A rare term used as a translation of Angband (literally 'prison of iron', but often called the Hells of Iron), the fortress of Morgoth in the later First Age. The reference is figurative: Angband was a place of imprisonment and suffering, but its lord Morgoth had no power over the spirits of the Dead.1 The term is also seen in a reference to the flying mounts of the Nazgûl during the later Third Age, which were called 'hell-hawks' by some in Gondor. This may be a cultural memory of the horror of Angband (long since destroyed at that time) or may be a more direct reference to Mordor and its Dark Tower.
In the later form of Tolkien's legendarium, Morgoth had no power over the Dead, but in earlier versions he was actually able to summon spirits to Angband, so that they would be imprisoned there rather than reaching the Halls of Mandos. This earlier tradition explains the origin of the name 'Hells of Iron' - under that conception Angband was almost an exact counterpart of the more familiar notion of Hell - but this aspect of Morgoth's power is no longer present in later versions of the tales.
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