The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Destroyed at the end of the First Age
Location
A triangular land south of the Crissaegrim, between the rivers Sirion and Mindeb
Pronunciation
di'mbar
Meaning
'Sad (or gloomy) dwelling-place'

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  • Updated 20 September 2022
  • This entry is complete

Dimbar

The empty land beneath the Crissaegrim

Map of Dimbar

A narrow land in the northern parts of Beleriand, Dimbar lay in the angle between the great river Sirion and its eastern tributary Mindeb. These rivers formed naturally boundaries, especially Sirion on the west, which was too strong and deep to be crossed for most of its length, except at a single ford, the Brithiach, in the north of the land. In the south, the two rivers came together to form a wedge of land running into the great forests of central Beleriand, and here Dimbar was bordered to the west by the Forest of Brethil, and to the east by the Forest of Neldoreth in Thingol's protected realm of Doriath.

In the north of Dimbar the land began to rise, and its southern plains gave way to foothills and then a mountain wall of sheer and impassable cliffs. In the far northwest, a narrow and empty crevasse ran out from these cliffs. This was the remnant of a river that had once flowed out from the rocks and down into Sirion, but that river had run dry even in ancient times.

Dimbar in History

Dimbar seems to have been devoid of settlements, and indeed is described as an empty land, but nonetheless it had a part to play in history. In early times in Beleriand, while Melkor was imprisoned and starlight shone down on Middle-earth, Dimbar was important because of the Brithiach, one of the few fords of the wide river Sirion, which lay on its northwestern borders. A road was made from that ford, running eastward across the land, and then over Dimbar's eastern border-river of Mindeb. From there, the road ran on through the wide valley beyond, leading far along the northern fringes of Doriath's forests into East Beleriand.

When Melkor returned to Middle-earth, the peace of Dimbar was broken. The Dark Lord had escaped from Aman with the aid of a creature named Ungoliant, a being in the form of a monstrous spider. Ungoliant then travelled into the forests above the valley beyond Mindeb, and she filled those forested heights with her offspring. Meanwhile the danger of Melkor was met by Melian of Doriath with the raising of the Girdle of Melian, a web of enchantment that protected her realm. This sorcery ran along the woods on Dimbar's southeastern borders, and then on through the valley beyond. Where Dimbar had once been the western gateway to Beleriand's northern road, it now lay on the borders of a dangerous valley, Nan Dungortheb, with monsters to the north and enchantments to the south. Only the hardiest would now dare to travel the road through Dimbar that led into that Valley of Dreadful Death.

Nonetheless, there were those who still braved the land. Despite the danger to the east, the river Sirion on Dimbar's western border still lay strongly under the power of the Vala Ulmo, and that Power guided the Noldorin prince Turgon to a place in the rugged northwest of Dimbar. Turgon found his way to the bed of the Dry River and followed it into the mountains, following a sheltered tunnel beneath those mountains to discover a concealed plain beyond. There he secretly built the Hidden City of Gondolin, with the gateway to that city, the Hidden Way beneath the high peaks, lying in the far north of Dimbar.

In the dangerous days that followed, there was little traffic along the road through Dimbar, but it was not entirely unused. Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, sister to King Turgon, departed from Gondolin through Dimbar into the east and returned, years later, with a son, Maeglin. Celegorm and Curufin, two of the Sons of Fëanor, also passed this way after their expulsion from Nargothrond, seeking their brothers to the east.

After the Dagor Bragollach

For centuries, the Noldor had contained Melkor (now more usually called Morgoth) in his northern fortress of Angband, but in the winter of I 455 he broke their Siege. The battle that followed, the Dagor Bragollach, had far-reaching effects across Beleriand, and even quiet Dimbar was caught up in the events that followed.

The power of Ulmo was still strong in Sirion at this time, and so when two warriors were separated from the fighting and forced over the ford of the Brithiach into Dimbar, the Vala caused a concealing mist to rise. Thus Húrin and Huor escaped pursuit, and the watchful Eagle Thorondor lifted them up and carried them over the Encircling Mountains into Gondolin. So began an association between King Turgon and the House of Hador that would eventually lead, long afterward, to the birth of Eärendil.

Less than twenty years later, Turgon heard news of a great alliance of Elves forming to impose a final defeat on Morgoth, and chose to lead out his armies to join them. Those armies emerged from the hidden gate in the northern mountains of Dimbar and marched off to war. Afterward, they returned in defeat; the great battle in the north had turned to disaster, and Turgon had barely escaped with his surviving warriors.

After this terrible loss, known as the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Dimbar began to be drawn more directly into the Wars of Beleriand. From the occupied heights of Taur-nu-Fuin, Orcs discovered a steep and perilous way, the Pass of Anach, that led down to the sources of Mindeb in the far northeast of Dimbar. So the forces of the Enemy began to cross into Dimbar itself, where they were resisted by the marchwardens of Doriath.

Led by Beleg Strongbow, the Elves of Doriath forced back the Orcs for a while, and Dimbar had a brief respite from its invaders. Beleg had another more personal mission, however, and he left Dimbar to seek his friend Túrin. With Beleg gone, the Orcs redoubled their incursions through the Pass of Anach, and Dimbar fell to their numbers, as did all the lands along Doriath's borders eastward of Dimbar. From this time onward, Dimbar was under the power of Morgoth, a threat on the northern borders of both Doriath and of Brethil.

As the Orcs made further inroads, the peoples on Dimbar's borders defended themselves as they could. To the southwest beyond Brethil a new land was named, Dor-Cúarthol, the Land of Bow and Helm, from which Beleg and Túrin fought back against the Orcs. The Two Captains of this land would soon be betrayed, and the Orcs carried Túrin away, passing through Dimbar and back up through the Pass of Anach with their prize. Afterward their course was followed by Beleg, whom they had left for dead, but now trailed the captors of his friend. Beleg would succeed in rescuing Túrin in the northern highlands of Taur-nu-Fuin, but the Elf lost his life there, and Túrin never returned to Dimbar.

The Orcs now wandered across Dimbar as they pleased, so that it was dangerous for Elves or Men to travel there, but nonetheless a few did so at times. One of these was Voronwë, a messenger sent out by Turgon who had encountered the Man Tuor in the ruins of Vinyamar. Tuor had been given a message for Turgon from the Vala Ulmo, and Voronwë agreed to guide him to the Hidden City. The two braved the patrols of Orcs in the north of Dimbar to find the Hidden Way that led to Gondolin.

Ulmo's message to Turgon was a warning: that his city would not stand forever against Morgoth, and that he should abandon Gondolin and flee to the coasts. Even warned by a Vala, Turgon would not leave his shining city, but the message nonetheless filled the King with foreboding, so that he shut up even the Hidden Way into his kingdom from the northern highlands of Dimbar. So it was that when Húrin later came to Dimbar seeking to return to the city he had known in his youth, he found no way now to pass down the Dry River's secret path.

After Húrin abandoned his hope of rediscovering Gondolin, Dimbar does not appear in history again. Despite Turgon's caution, his city eventually fell, but Morgoth assaulted it over the mountains to the north, and did not enter Dimbar. Eventually, alongside most of Beleriand and its realms, the land of Dimbar was swallowed by the Great Sea in the aftermath of the War of Wrath that brought the First Age to its close.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 20 September 2022
  • This entry is complete

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