The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
The long shallow valley of the Great River Anduin, running southward for some thousand miles through Middle-earth
The Vales were mostly populated by Men, with the main exception being the Elves of Lórien
The confluence of the Langwell and Greylin, near the western end of the Grey Mountains
Anduin is pronounced 'andoo'in'
Anduin means 'long river'
Other names
Sometimes called simply the 'Vale of Anduin', and also the Vale of the Great River


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 August 2014
  • This entry is complete

Vales of Anduin

The valley of the Great River

Map of the Vales of Anduin

The course of Anduin through its upper and lower Vales.

The long valley of the River Anduin, running north-to-south through Middle-earth from the cold north to the wide Bay of Belfalas in the south. From the beginning of Anduin at the confluence of the Langwell and Greylin rivers, to its wide Mouths at Ethir Anduin, the Vale of the Great River ran for some thousand miles. This great length is divided into upper and lower stretches.

The upper Vales ran between the Misty Mountains and the vast forest known as Greenwood the Great. This was a populous region in earlier times, and many of the Men who lived here were descended from the Edain of the First Age, or their relatives who had never crossed the Blue Mountains to the west. The earliest records of the Hobbits also place their ancestors in this part of Anduin's Vales.

As time passed, these upper Vales became more and more crowded, and a shadow settled on the Forest, turning it from Greenwood the Great to Mirkwood. At this time, some of the peoples of the Vales were forced to move: the Hobbits travelled westward for the most part, while the horse-loving race of Men known as the Éothéod passed northward to the region around Anduin's source. As the Third Age passed, this part of the valley became more and more dangerous, and eventually raids of Balchoth through the Forest left the region south of the Gladden's inflow all but deserted.

South of Mirkwood, the river ran on through two great loops known as the Undeeps, and on southwards into the hills of the Emyn Muil. It's unclear whether this flat stretch belonged to the Vales proper, but once Anduin had flowed through the Gates of Argonath, and poured over the Falls of Rauros, it entered the region known as the lower Vales of Anduin.

The lower Vales were much warmer than the upper, and settled by Men who gave allegiance to Gondor, at least in the earlier part of the Third Age. The horses from this region were much prized, even in the days before the Rohirrim settled in the lands along Anduin's western bank. At Osgiliath, the Great River flowed through the largest city anywhere in its vales, and then ran on, widening as it went, to form a vast delta at the Mouths of Anduin before it flowed on into the Great Sea.

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