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  • Updated 30 July 2015
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Great Shelf

The Eyrie of the Misty Mountains

A wide rocky shelf on the eastern side of the Misty Mountains, somewhat northward of the High Pass, that was home to the great Eagles of northern Middle-earth. High on a peak of the mountains, it was inaccessible to those unable to fly, standing above a high precipice and backed by a wall of rock. It was to the Great Shelf that Gandalf and the Dwarves were brought to meet the Lord of Eagles during the Quest of Erebor, and so it appears to have been the Eagles' equivalent of a royal seat, or at least a place of some importance.

The text of The Hobbit implies (without stating categorically) that it was within the main range of the Misty Mountains (as Bilbo was carried through the air towards it he saw that 'the pale peaks of the mountains were coming nearer'1). There is, however, reason to think that the geography of the Great Shelf is a little more involved than this simple reading might suggest.

The Hobbit also includes an illustration entitled 'The Misty Mountains looking West from the Eyrie towards Goblin Gate', and that picture shows a view across a sparsely treed plain towards the main range. Since this view is explicitly towards the West, it follows that the Great Shelf was in fact on the westward side of a peak that stood apart from the main range, looking back towards them rather than out into the Vales of Anduin. This does indeed seem to be Tolkien's intention: a close examination of the 'Wilderland' map in The Hobbit shows a small group of lesser peaks rising out of the plain just to the east of the Misty Mountains at the point labelled 'Goblin-gate & Eyrie'.


Notes

1

The Hobbit 6, Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

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  • Updated 30 July 2015
  • Updates planned: 2

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