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  • Updated 10 November 2020
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Land of the Girdle

The protected realm of Doriath

A name for the forest land of Doriath, the realm of Thingol and Melian that lay at the heart of Beleriand. The name indeed represents an approximate translation of Doriath, which literally means 'land of the fence' in reference to its protective Girdle of Melian.

In the ages before the Sun and Moon were created, Thingol and Melian ruled the Sindar under the stars of Middle-earth. At this time their land was usually named Eglador, and the Elves of Beleriand wandered freely across its borders. This situation suddenly changed when Morgoth returned to Middle-earth and launched a sudden assault on Thingol and his people. This First Battle proved ruinous for the Elves, and afterward Orcs roamed unhindered on Eglador's western borders.

In the face of this danger, Thingol withdrew his people into the central forests of his land, and Melian the Maia raised a magical barrier around those woods. This was the Girdle of Melian (using 'girdle' in its old sense of a 'belt'), a barrier that could not be seen, but would catch interlopers in a maze of darkness and confusion. It was from this time that the land became known by the new name of Doriath, the fenced Land of the Girdle.

Soon afterward, the Noldor returned to Middle-earth and succeeded in driving Morgoth back to his northern fortress of Angband. Nonetheless, the Girdle was maintained, and the forests of Doriath remained inviolate behind it for some five centuries. In all that time, the barrier was almost never crossed without the leave of Thingol and Melian. The sole exception was Beren, who was driven by a fate so strong that even Melian's magic could not keep him from entering the Land of the Girdle.

Doriath's protection lasted until the time when Thingol was slain in his own halls. He was murdered by Dwarves whom he had invited into his land to work the Silmaril recovered by Beren and Lúthien. With the slaying of Thingol, Melian fell into a deep grief, and eventually departed from Doriath and returned into the West. With Melian gone, her Girdle also vanished, and the land was left open to its enemies.

When those enemies came, they were not Orcs of Morgoth, but Elves following the Sons of Fëanor, who invaded Doriath to claim the Silmaril held in its vaults. Thingol's grandson Dior, who had briefly taken up the Kingship of Doriath, was slain in that raid, and the land that had once been guarded by the Girdle of Melian was left in ruins.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 10 November 2020
  • Updates planned: 2

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