The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Occupied sometime between c. III 1000 and c. III 30001
Location
The western edge of Mirkwood2
Race
Division
Order
Pronunciation
rho'sgobel
Meaning
Ultimately from rhosc, 'Brown', and gobel, 'a fenced homestead'
Other names
Occasionally given in translation as 'Brownhay' (where 'hay' is an old word for 'hedge' or 'fence'), though this version does not appear in any canonical works

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About this entry:

  • Updated 21 November 2014
  • This entry is complete

Rhosgobel

Radagast’s dwelling on the edge of Mirkwood

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Map of the possible locations of Rhosgobel
(A) is the best evidenced and most consistent location for Rhosgobel, though some sources suggest that it stood further north, at the position marked by (B) on this map.

The fenced home of Radagast the Brown on the western edge of Mirkwood. Radagast appears to have dwelt there as late as the time of the Quest of Erebor, but by the time of the War of the Ring some eighty years later he was known to have abandoned his old home. We have no definite information to explain when or why he left, or under what circumstances, and indeed it is implied that he had not completely abandoned Rhosgobel even then. After the Council of Elrond, searchers were sent to seek Radagast at Rhosgobel; they were unsuccessful, but the fact that they tried shows that there must have been at least some expectation that he might be found in the area.

Evidence for Rhosgobel's exact location is open to interpretation. There is support for it standing in the southern part of the Forest, about a hundred miles north from Sauron's fortress of Dol Guldur, but other sources place it farther north, much closer to the Carrock and the home of Beorn. The journey of Elrond's scouts to seek Radagast took them to the southern parts of Mirkwood, so, on what little evidence we have, the former location seems to be better supported.


Notes

1

We have no solid information to confirm when the Wizard Radagast settled at Rhosgobel, and hardly any basis for guessing when that might have been, except that it must have been after the arrival of his Order in Middle-earth in about III 1000.

Whenever Rhosgobel was founded, it seems that Radagast still dwelt there long into the Third Age. In The Hobbit (chapter 7), Gandalf speaks of 'my good cousin Radagast who lives near the Southern borders of Mirkwood', which strongly suggests that he was still at Rhosgobel in the year III 2941 when Bilbo's adventures took place. In fact, given its location close to Dol Guldur, it probably played an important part of the attack against Sauron that took place in that year.

At the Council of Elrond in III 3018, however, Gandalf announced that Radagast 'at one time dwelt at Rhosgobel' (The Fellowship of the Ring II 2). So, we must assume that the Brown Wizard left his home sometime between these two dates. The estimate of c. III 3000 given above is based on this reasoning, though clearly there is considerable margin for error here.

2

There is a certain amount of confusion over the exact location of Rhosgobel. The initial draft map for The Lord of the Rings, reproduced in volume 7 of The History of Middle-earth, shows it in the far south of the forest, precariously close to Dol Guldur. However, in the notes to The Istari in Unfinished Tales, Christopher Tolkien quotes the location as being 'in the forest borders between the Carrock and the Old Road', which would place it much farther to the north.

The latter location seems to fit the established dating rather better, allowing for Radagast to remain there safely long into the Third Age. However, the only remotely canonical statement comes from The Fellowship of the Ring II 3, where the scouts of Elrond 'had come down into Wilderland and over the Gladden Fields and so at length had reached the old home of Radagast at Rhosgobel.' This description can only reasonably apply to the southern location, near Sauron's stronghold at Dol Guldur.

The relations between these two variable accounts are unclear. The southern version appears to be the older, so perhaps Tolkien intended to revise Rhosgobel's location to place it in less direct danger from Sauron. If so, however, that change never made it into the text of The Lord of the Rings. We can place Rhosgobel, therefore, on the western fringe of the Narrows of the Forest, opposite the East Bight.

See also...

Radagast, Wizards

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