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The original key must have dated back to the building of Orthanc, possibly before the beginning of the Third Age1
Orthanc is pronounced 'o'rthanc'
Orthanc means both 'Mount Fang' and 'Cunning Mind'


About this entry:

  • Updated 14 October 2012
  • This entry is complete

Key of Orthanc

The Key to Saruman's Tower

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The key or keys that granted entry to the otherwise impenetrable tower of Orthanc. They first enter history at the time of the Oath of Eorl, when that tower was sealed by the Gondorians, and the key taken to Minas Tirith. At the request of Saruman, Steward Beren later surrendered the key to him, and he took up his abode in the ancient Gondorian stronghold.



Presumably the tower of Orthanc had a key from the time of its construction in the early days of Gondor. This would make the key more than three thousand years old by the end of the Third Age, and it seems a little unlikely that the original key would still have been usable after all that time. It seems more plausible that copies were made over the years, and that perhaps the Key of Orthanc given to Saruman by Steward Beren was a replica of the original.


Orthanc was built by the original Gondorians, and held by them throughout most of the Third Age. Near the end of that Age (specifically, in the year III 2759), Steward Beren gave the Key to the Wizard Saruman, who held it until his defeat in III 3019.

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