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Known by this name from about III 1050 until III 3019
Running east to west through the northern parts of Mirkwood
At one time occupied by Elves1
The Enchanted River rose in the north of these hills
'e'moon-noo'-fui'n' (ui as in English 'ruin')
Literally 'hills under nightshade',2 but usually translated 'Mountains of Mirkwood'
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 16 July 2023
  • This entry is complete
Map of the Emyn-nu-Fuin

A range of tall wooded hills that ran through the northern parts of the great dark Forest of Mirkwood, to the north of the Forest Road that ran beneath the trees. In earlier days, when the Forest had been known as Eryn Galen, the Greenwood, Silvan Elves had lived in these mountains, and named them Emyn Duir, the Dark Mountains, for the shadows of the firs that grew thickly on their slopes.

In about the year III 1050, a true Shadow began to spread through the trees, a Shadow emanating from the dark fortress of Dol Guldur. A being known only as the Necromancer had established himself on the hill of Amon Lanc in the south of the Forest, and from there his malign influence spread northward through the trees. It was at this time that the Greenwood became known as Taur-nu-Fuin, a name commonly translated as 'Mirkwood'.

The Shadow spread as far north as the mountains of Emyn Duir, and they also gained a new name: Emyn-nu-Fuin, the 'hills under nightshade', commonly translated as the Mountains of Mirkwood. Evil creatures3 of the Shadow began to lurk on their slopes, and the Elves who had lived there fled into the far north of the Forest, where they founded the Woodland Realm in the far northeast.

The Shadow on the Wood persisted through some two millennia. The Necromancer was finally driven from Dol Guldur in III 2941, but the tower was soon reoccupied by his servants, the Nazgûl (this 'Necromancer' having been, it was later discovered, an identity of the Dark Lord Sauron). The Shadow was finally defeated in the War of the Ring, and the Forest was renamed once again, as Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves. Presumably, the mountains of Emyn-nu-Fuin also gained a new name at this time (or perhaps reverted to their earlier name of Emyn Duir).



At the end of the Second Age, there were Silvan Elves living in the western vales of these hills, though at that time the hills were known as Emyn Duir, the Dark Mountains. That name referred only to the dense shade of the trees, and not to the Shadow that would pass through the Forest and eventually lead to its becoming known as 'Mirkwood'. That same Shadow of Sauron caused the Elves of these hills to remove to the northern fringes of the Forest, where they established the Woodland Realm.

The encroaching darkness was also the cause of the change of name from Emyn Duir to Emyn-nu-Fuin 'hills under nightshade'. We do not have sufficiently detailed dating evidence to say whether there were still Elves in these hills at the time they became known as Emyn-nu-Fuin, but given that they were fleeing the Shadow that gave rise to that name, on balance it seems likely that they would already have departed.


When the darkness of Sauron began to spread through the Greenwood of Eryn Galen, it gained a new Elvish name borrowed from the First Age. That name was Taur-nu-Fuin, literally 'Forest under Nightshade' but usually translated 'Mirkwood'. At that time the hills within the Forest gained a new name of their own, Emyn-nu-Fuin, that mirrored that of the Forest as a whole. The name Taur-nu-Fuin had originated from another forest of the First Age that had similarly come under the power of the Dark Lord, the wooded northern highland that had formerly been known as Dorthonion.


The creatures that began to infest the mountains are not described in any detail, but we might surmise that these were - at least in part - the giant spiders also found elsewhere in northern Mirkwood. It is telling that a stream that ran northward out of Emyn-nu-Fuin, the Enchanted River, had black water, and drinking this water would cause a deep enchanted sleep. Similar dark streams were described in the valley of Ered Gorgoroth during the First Age, whose mountains were also infested with unnatural spiders of the same kind.


About this entry:

  • Updated 16 July 2023
  • This entry is complete

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