The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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Welcome to The Encyclopedia of Arda

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a personal project - a tribute to and a celebration of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The site is evolving into an illustrated hypertext encyclopedia of Tolkien's realms and peoples. It already contains about four thousand entries, and we're constantly adding new entries and expanding existing ones.

Inside the encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Arda contains thousands of articles covering topics from J.R.R. Tolkien's world, some brief, some lengthy and some containing detailed essays and discussions.

You'll also find a selection of interactive tools, including a chronicle to help you explore Tolkien's fictional history, and calendar to translate dates and events, a lexicon of names, a glossary of old and rare words, and much more.

Context and approach

The content of the Encyclopedia is written in the same context as Tolkien himself used; he presented himself simply as a translator, rather than originator of the tales. Hence, we try to describe his world from a 'historical' rather than a literary perspective, though sometimes it's useful to explore ideas in their wider context. Where relevant, therefore, you'll also find a few references to Tolkien's life or opinions, or to real historical or mythological parallels to events in his universe.

About the name Arda

Arda was the name given by the Elves to their World and all it contained, and so 'Encyclopedia of Arda' seemed a peculiarly apt title for this project.

Special thanks

Thanks to all those who've e-mailed us over the years with their suggestions, corrections, ideas and just general support.

But the real Special Thanks, though, belong to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien for his extraordinary and unparalleled creation.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1997-2018. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

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Featured Entry

Mountains of Iron

The peaks of northern Middle-earth

In the depths of time, when Melkor fought against the Valar for power over Arda, his great stronghold was at Utumno in the far North of the World. To protect Utumno, the Dark Lord raised a range of mountains that arced across Middle-earth, following a curve along the edges of the arctic frosts. These were the Ered Engrin or Mountains of Iron (also commonly called the Iron Mountains). In the western part of the range, where they came closest to Valinor, he reinforced his defences by building another great fortress, Angband, which in those early times was commanded by Melkor's lieutenant, Sauron.

At the end of the War of the Powers, the Valar overcame Utumno's defences and captured Melkor, taking him in chains back to Valinor. There he remained for three ages, until he returned once again to Middle-earth. Though Utumno had been destroyed, Angband remained behind the western end of the Mountains of Iron. There Melkor took up his power again, and tunnelled into the mountains. He created a way through to the south for his forces, and raised Thangorodrim, three immense towers as tall as the Iron Mountains themselves.

The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda