The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Guarded Gondolin from I 116 to its Fall in I 510
Location
Running through the Encircling Mountains from the Dry River to the plain of Tumladen
Origins
Gates were built across the Orfalch by Turgon, and later Maeglin
Race
Division
Culture
Settlements
A guarded pass leading to the city of Gondolin
Pronunciation
o'rfalch e'chorr ('ch' as in Scots 'loch')
Meaning
Probably 'high cleft of the outer circle'1

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 13 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

Orfalch Echor

The road to the Hidden City

Map of the Orfalch Echor
Schematic map of the Orfalch Echor and its Gates (not to scale)
Schematic map of the Orfalch Echor and its Gates (not to scale)

The ravine of the Dry River in the Encircling Mountains, the route by which the Hidden City of Gondolin was approached.


Notes

1

The name Orfalch Echor dates back to the earliest phase of Tolkien's world in the Lost Tales, but is never directly explained, so a certain amount of deduction is needed to interpret it. There's a strong clue in the old name for the pass later called the Cirith Ninniach, which in the Lost Tales is called Glorfalc, interpreted 'Golden Cleft'. Because we known that glor- means 'gold', then falc is evidently 'cleft'. The prefix or- means 'high, above, on', so in this context the ravine of the Orfalch would be the 'high cleft'.

Echor refers to a surrounding or encircling defence (as in the Rammas Echor, the defensive wall that surrounded Gondor's Pelennor Fields. The same element is seen in Echoriath, the Encircling Mountains through which the cleft of the Orfalch ran. Thus the entire name can be read as the 'high cleft of the outer circle' or perhaps 'high cleft of the Encircling (Mountains)'.

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 13 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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