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Gondolin was completed in I 116 and fell to Melkor I 510
The Fourth of the Seven Gates guarding the Orfalch Echor through the Encircling Mountains to Gondolin
Constructed by Turgon's people as part of the defences of Gondolin
Guarded the way to Gondolin
Writhen is an old word meaning 'twisted' or 'writhing'1
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 20 June 2019
  • This entry is complete

Gate of Writhen Iron

The Fourth Gate of the Orfalch Echor

Map of Gondolin's Gate of Writhen Iron

The Seven Gates of Gondolin

The Orfalch Echor was the narrow secret pass that led through the Encircling Mountains to the Hidden City of Gondolin. That pass was guarded by Seven Gates, and at its highest point in the midst of the mountain range stood the Fourth Gate, also called the Iron Gate or the Gate of Writhen Iron.

At this point the pass of the Orfalch was blocked by a wall of black iron, with four towers watching over the road as it climbed toward the Gate. Between the two central towers was a huge iron Eagle, representing Thorondor alighting on a mountain peak. Within the wall was a complex of three separate iron gates, one after the other, and each was formed in the shape of twisting forest trees with writhing roots and entwined branches. The effect of looking through these three gates together was said to appear remarkably like the view through a tangled forest in moonlight. From these twisting tree limbs on the Fourth Gate, it took its name of 'Gate of Writhen Iron'.

Behind the Gate of Writhen Iron was its own detachment of dedicated soldiers, the Iron Guards. These Elves wore black mail armour, and each carried a black shield and wore a helmet formed in the shape of an Eagle's beak. Beyond the Iron Gate and its Iron Guards, the steep path of the Orfalch Echor levelled out as it passed on through the mountains. From here the roadway ran past a green sward dotted with the flowers known as uilos and onward towards the Fifth Gate, the Gate of Silver.



The word 'writhen' here apparently refers not to the iron of the Gate, but to the twisting tree-shapes represented there. Indeed, the worked trees that decorated the Gate are described as having '...writhing roots and woven branches...' (Unfinished Tales Part One I, Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin), so giving the Gate of Writhen Iron its name.


About this entry:

  • Updated 20 June 2019
  • This entry is complete

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