The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Founded before the first rising of the Sun; destroyed in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age
Location
To the east of Mount Dolmed in the Ered Luin
Race
Division
Probably Broadbeams1
Culture
Pronunciation
Probably 'gabi'lgathol'
Meaning
Probably 'great fortress' or 'great city'2
Other names

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  • Updated 7 March 2010
  • This entry is complete

Gabilgathol

The Dwarves’ own name for their city of Belegost

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Map of Gabilgathol

While Melkor was still held captive in Valinor, long before the rising of the Sun or Moon, the Dwarves first appeared in the Blue Mountains. These Dwarves seem to have belonged to two different clans, the Firebeards and the Broadbeams, and each of these founded their own city, on either side of Mount Dolmed in the middle of the range. The northern of these two cities (apparently founded by the Broadbeams - see note 1 below) was named Gabilgathol in the Dwarvish tongue.

The name Gabilgathol means 'great fortress' (compare, for example, Gabilán - 'great river' - a Dwarvish name for the River Gelion). It was translated into Elvish as Belegost, and by that name it was much better known in the histories of Beleriand. In the tongues of Men it would later become known as Mickleburg.

The Dwarves of Gabilgathol often aided the Elves of Beleriand. It was they who helped Thingol create his Thousand Caves of Menegroth, and long afterwards they fought beside the Elves in their Wars against Morgoth. The most renowned of the Dwarves of Gabilgathol was their lord Azaghâl, who wounded Glaurung during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.


Notes

1

The Dwarf-clans of the Firebeards and Broadbeams are mentioned in a late essay, Of Dwarves and Men in volume 12 of The History of Middle-earth. Both are associated with the Blue Mountains, and given the existence of two great Dwarf-cities in those Mountains, it seems safe to infer that each clan occupied one of the cities. Tolkien never makes the association in an explicit way, but based on the word order in that essay, it seems that Gabilgathol was the home of the Broadbeam Dwarves.

2

To all appearances, the Elvish name of this city, Belegost ('great fortress-city') seems to be a direct translation of the Dwarvish name Gabilgathol. At least, gabil- is established as being equivalent to Elvish beleg-, 'great'. Though -gathol is less certain, it seems reasonable to assume that it equates to -ost, meaning a fortress or fortified city.

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