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  • Updated 13 October 2018
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The Highway

Finrod’s long road from Nargothrond to Minas Tirith

After his return to Middle-earth from the West, Finrod Felagund founded a great underground stronghold on the river Narog. This secret stronghold, Nargothrond, was the main seat of his power and the heart of his realm, lying far from the dangerous lands North of Beleriand. Far closer to Morgoth's fortress of Angband, Finrod also held the narrow Pass of Sirion, the main pass leading through the mountains from the plain of Ard-galen into Beleriand itself. On the island of Tol Sirion in the course of the river Sirion, Finrod built a second fortress to guard the Pass. This was Minas Tirith (not to be confused with Minas Tirith in Gondor, built long afterward) and for most of its history this northern watch-tower was in the keeping of Finrod's brother Orodreth.

The tower of Minas Tirith lay more than two hundred miles from the Doors of Nargothrond, and so Finrod constructed a road that his Elves could use to pass easily between the two. This long road became known simply as the Highway. We do not have a detailed map of its southern course, but it appears to have run northward along the western bank of Narog for some miles, and then crossed at the shallower point near the inflow of Ginglith. From there, the Highway ran on across the Guarded Plain of Talath Dirnen, bending around the foothills of Amon Rûdh to reach the Crossings of Teiglin on the southwestern fringe of the Forest of Brethil.

From the Crossings of Teiglin we have a more detailed picture of the Highway's northward course. From this point it continued through Brethil, within the western eaves of the forest, for about forty miles. As it emerged from Brethil a road split from the main Highway, running eastwards towards Nan Dungortheb and East Beleriand beyond. We know that some of the features on this eastward road predated the coming of Finrod to Middle-earth, which implies that Finrod's Highway may have been following the course of an existing roadway, at least along its northerly course. From Brethil, the road ran on to meet the river Sirion, and followed the river's course for some miles before reaching its final destination, Minas Tirith on Tol Sirion.

In the year I 457, soon after the Dagor Bragollach and the breaking of the Siege of Angband, the tower of Minas Tirith was attacked and captured by Sauron. After this time Tol Sirion became Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves, and the Highway was no longer used by the Elves of Nargothrond to reach their northern tower. There was a single exception: some years after the tower's loss, Finrod agreed to aid Beren in his quest for the Silmaril, and they set out from Nargothrond for the Pass of Sirion, doubtless along Finrod's Highway. Attempting to make their way through the Pass in secret, they were detected and captured, and Finrod was slain in the dungeons of the tower he himself had built centuries earlier.

Nargothrond itself survived for nearly forty years after Finrod's death, but eventually it was revealed to Morgoth and he sent the Dragon Glaurung against it. After the Fall of Nargothrond, the old Highway of Finrod Felagund remained, but the only travellers on the road were the forces of Morgoth who had conquered both of the old strongholds of Finrod.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 13 October 2018
  • Updates planned: 2

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