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


About this entry:

  • Updated 15 September 2022
  • Updates planned: 2

East Anórien

The lands between Anduin and the White Mountains

Anórien was a fief of Gondor established by Anárion son of Elendil. Like its founder, it took its name from the Elvish word for the Sun, as did its chief city, Minas Anor beneath Mindolluin. Anórien in its entirety was a narrow region, ranged between the rivers Entwash and Anduin to the north, and the White Mountains to the south. The eastern part of this narrow land was referred to at times as its own lesser region, known simply as East Anórien.

The eastern border of Anórien was formed by the Great River Anduin, from the point where the last of the many Mouths of Entwash fed into it. From there the river ran down approximately southwards for about seventy miles, dividing Anórien from Ithilien to the east. Halfway along this stretch the river broke into two streams for a time, forming the long island of Cair Andros.

Westward from the Great River, the region of East Anórien followed the line of the White Mountains, and included a wide stretch of forest spreading outward from the mountains' feet. The mass of this woodland was known as the Drúadan Forest, home of the Wild Men of the Woods, out of which the peak of Eilenach rose. A smaller wood to the east of the main Drúadan Forest was known as the Grey Wood. The Great West Road out of Minas Tirith looped around these forested regions, returning to the foothills of the White Mountains as it passed the Beacon-hill of Nardol to the west of the trees. From a point southward of Nardol, the Stonewain Valley carved a direct course through the White Mountains to Minas Tirith at their eastern end.

Beyond the Drúadan Forest, it's unclear how much more of Anórien was considered as belonging to 'East Anórien'. Assuming that the region was divided approximately in half, then East Anórien would have extended westward from the forests as far as the Beacons of Nardol and Erelas. The existence of East Anórien implies a corresponding West Anórien (which would have run approximately from Erelas westward as far as the Halifirien and the Mering Stream), though in fact no instance of the term 'West Anórien' is specifically recorded.

East Anórien in the History of Gondor

Lying in the heartland of Gondor, Anórien was always one of the more populated of the South-kingdom's fiefs, even aside from the great cities of Minas Anor and Osgiliath that lay on its southern borders. In the earlier centuries of Gondor's existence, it was protected from the East by the Great River and the provinces that lay beyond, but as the tides of history shifted, this situation began to change. In III 1248 a huge Easterling army gathered, presenting a real risk of invasion. These Easterlings were defeated by King Rómendacil II, who then set about reinforcing the defences of Gondor. From his time, fortifications were raised along the line of Anduin and on the isle of Cair Andros, ready to face any future incursion into East Anórien.

Some two centuries after these fortifications were raised, Gondor suffered the civil war of the Kin-strife. During fighting in Osgiliath, the palantír of that city was lost, and some centuries after that, the Ithil-stone was also lost when Minas Ithil was captured. These palantíri had made communication possible across the realm, and so in about this time Gondor began to create a system of Beacons to send news of danger across the lands. The first of these were raised in East Anórien, established on peaks of the White Mountains running westward from Minas Tirith. The first of the Beacons were raised on Amon Dín and the Eilenach within the Drúadan Forest.1

The need for heightened defence in this time meant that many of the people who had dwelt in the western province of Calenardhon removed to Anórien, leaving their former land almost deserted. Nonetheless, some centuries later, Anórien faced an almost insurmountable threat as a force of Balchoth approached from the northeast. With no means to counter these invaders, Steward Cirion sent north for aid, and Eorl the Young came to the relief of Gondor. Cirion granted Calenardhon to Eorl and his people, giving rise to the realm of Rohan, and leaving Anórien as Gondor's sole remaining possession northward of the White Mountains.

As the years passed, the evil power beyond Anduin continued to grow. The Orcs of Mordor began to regularly raid that land, so that its people deserted it and fled westward across the river. The Steward at that time, Túrin II, rebuilt East Anórien's fortifications along the banks of the Great River and on the island of Cair Andros, anticipating possible raids by Orcs out of Ithilien.

East Anórien in the War of the Ring

East Anórien played its first part in the events of the War of the Ring in early July III 3018. At that time a shiver of unknown fear passed through the land, seeming to move from the east away towards the west and north. This nebulous fear came from the Nazgûl travelling through the region, invisible to mortal eyes but unable to cloak the sense of dread that went with them. Their quest lay far to the north, where they had been sent to seek out the land of 'Shire' where the Ring was rumoured to be found. At about this time, too, a lone rider travelled out of Minas Tirith and along the Great West Road through East Anórien. This was Boromir, the son of Steward Denethor, who was also travelling northward to seek out the hidden valley of Imladris.

The coming of the War was felt more directly some months later, as the Men of Minas Tirith began to repair the wall of the Rammas Echor that guarded their city in the eastern parts of East Anórien. On 9 March III 3019, Shadowfax rode urgently eastward toward the City of Gondor, bearing Gandalf and Pippin Took, as Gondor lit the Beacons of the White Mountains to summon aid from Rohan. A day later, East Anórien found itself directly invaded: Cair Andros was captured by Orcs and Easterlings, and Sauron's forces entered the land. This invasion had a strategic purpose: to hold the road from the west so that the Riders of Rohan would have no way to bring help to their allies in Gondor.

In the event, Sauron's forces failed to engage the Rohirrim. King Théoden found an alternative route through the White Mountains, using the hidden Stonewain Valley to reach Minas Tirith and join the Battle of the Pelennor. Even after the defeat of the Dark Lord's armies in that battle, the invaders of East Anórien remained there for some days. While Aragorn led his followers out from Minas Tirith toward the Black Gate, Elfhelm led three thousand Riders into Anórien to defeat the invaders. The Orcs and Easterlings were driven back to Cair Andros, and another part of Aragorn's force was sent to help retake the island.

The road along the White Mountains through East Anórien was the main route to Minas Tirith from the North, and so in the days after the defeat of Sauron it was busy with travellers. On 19 July III 3019, a great procession set out from the City and passed westward through East Anórien and on toward Rohan; this was the funeral procession of Théoden, who had fallen in battle. Among this funeral escort were Frodo Baggins and the remaining members of the Fellowship of the Ring, their Quest complete, setting out on their long homeward journey.



The identity of the third Beacon is a little less clear than for the first two. References in Unfinished Tales make it Min-Rimmon, far to the west of the first two Beacons (and indeed so far west that it could hardly have been considered to lie within East Anórien). There is reason to think that this is an artefact of textual development, and in fact the third of the Beacons was the next in sequence after Eilenach (that is, Nardol).


About this entry:

  • Updated 15 September 2022
  • Updates planned: 2

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2022. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Discus, the DISC profiling solution.
A Reliability and Validity Study is available for the Discus personality profiling system.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry