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


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  • Updated 22 May 2010
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Great Road

The North-South Road that joined the Two Kingdoms

The long road, constructed by the Dúnedain during the closing years of the Second Age, that joined the North-kingdom of Arnor to the South-kingdom of Gondor. It ran for some 1,100 miles, from Fornost1 in the far north, south through Bree, and on across Minhiriath. To carry it through the marshlands around the Greyflood, great causeways were built, and the famed Bridge of Tharbad carried the road across the river itself. From there, it passed on through Enedwaith, across the Fords of Isen, and along the northern feet of the White Mountains before entering Anórien and finally reaching the gates of Osgiliath.

The road was maintained long into the Third Age, but with the loss of the North-kingdom and war and pestilence afflicting Gondor, it began to fall into disrepair. By the end of that Age, only the southern section of the road that ran between Gondor and Rohan was still in regular use. Elsewhere the road had decayed: in Enedwaith the fens had left it almost impassable, the Bridge of Tharbad had fallen, and in the north it had become so overgrown that it came to be known as the Greenway.

This Great Road is often called the North-South Road, and is not to be confused with the other Great Road of Middle-earth. Also built by the Dúnedain, that Great Road ran east to west through the lands of the North-kingdom.



At the time the road was built, the capital of Arnor was not Fornost, but Annúminas, about a hundred miles to the west. We might expect, therefore, that the Great Road would lead to Annúminas rather than Fornost. However, the geography of the region, and especially the course of the River Baranduin, made a direct route from Bree to Annúminas impractical. It seems inevitable that a further road must have joined the two great cities of Arnor, but its route is not shown on any extant map.

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