The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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  • Updated 15 July 2003
  • Updates planned: 3

The old stone bridge that carried the East-West Road over the River Mitheithel, about a hundred miles east of Weathertop. Its three arches crossed the wide river at the bottom of a valley, and to the east the land rose again into the wooded hills of the Trollshaws, in which Bilbo and his companions encountered an unfriendly trio of trolls. Indeed, there is an oblique reference to an 'ancient stone bridge' in chapter 2 of The Hobbit that seems to be a reference to the Last Bridge.

No record of its builders survives, but it was most likely constructed by the Dúnedain of Arnor, or perhaps of the later kingdom of Rhudaur, in which it lay. There was no other means of crossing the river for hundreds of miles to the north, and so the Bridge had great strategic value. In the War of the Ring, three Black Riders attempted to hold it against Aragorn and the hobbits on their journey to Rivendell. Their plan was foiled by Glorfindel, who drove them away and left his token, a green beryl, on the Bridge.

The Last Bridge is not mentioned at all in the text of The Hobbit, though this is implied to be the point where Thorin and Company lost one of their ponies in the river Hoarwell, and from where they spied the Trolls' firelight in the distance. In detailed revisions made in 1960 (but never actually incorporated into the canonical text) Tolkien makes this identity specific, and gives us more details. It seems that the bridge was broken at this date - by the Trolls themselves, in fact - and the difficulty of crossing caused the loss of the Dwarves' pony. By the time that Frodo and his companions passed this way some seventy-seven years later, the bridge was once again intact. due to the fact that Elrond kept watch over this stretch of the East Road and had his people make repairs as needed.

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