The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Apparently built in about the year III 1250, but this is open to question1
The northern entrance to Nen Hithoel
Apparently built by King Rómendacil II (but see note 1)
'Argonath' is pronounced 'a'rgonath'
Argonath means 'Two kingly stones'
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 14 September 2022
  • This entry is complete
Map of the Gates of Argonath

As the Great River Anduin flowed southwards into the region of the Emyn Muil, the land rose up on both sides of the river, leaving a narrow passage between two lines of cliffs. Eventually, this river-passage opened out into the wide lake of Nen Hithoel. In ancient days, this was considered to mark the entrance into the kingdom of Gondor, and King Rómendacil II of that realm raised two great monuments to mark the north-gate of his Kingdom. These two huge statues were carved on either side of the river, together known as the Argonath, or Pillars of the Kings. They represented Isildur and Anárion, the sons of Elendil, who had been Gondor's earliest rulers.



The details of the Argonath's origins given in this entry are taken from Appendix A (iv) to The Lord of the Rings, which states of Rómendacil II: 'He it was that built the Pillars of the Argonath at the entrance to Nen Hithoel.' Rómendacil was King of Gondor between the years III 1304 and III 1366, but before taking the throne he had served as Regent since III 1240, and the context of this quote strongly suggests that Pillars were raised during his Regency period, in about the year III 1250.

To complicate matters, all of this seems to be flatly contradicted by The Silmarillion. In Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, the raising of the Pillars is apparently described as taking place long before, during the last years of the Second Age: ' marvellous and strong they built in the land in the days of their power, at the Argonath...' This is probably a simple error (and as the ultimate canonical source, the account in The Lord of the Rings must take precedence).

To resolve this apparent contradiction, we might imagine that the 'marvellous works' raised in Elendil's time weren't necessarily the Pillars of the Argonath themselves - perhaps they refer to the long narrow channel that led into Nen Hithoel, with the mighty statues at the entrance to the channel being raised more than a thousand years later by Rómendacil. It's very doubtful that Tolkien intended any of this, but it does help to reconcile the contradictory accounts.


About this entry:

  • Updated 14 September 2022
  • This entry is complete

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

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2004, 2008, 2022. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Discus from Axiom Software Ltd.
Got a question about Discus or DISC? Why not take a look through our Knowledge Base and see what you can learn?
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry