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Men settled in Dorthonion after c. I 360;1 the last of the Men of Dorthonion, Beren, abandoned the land in I 464
Dorthonion, the mountainous highland northward of Beleriand
Men of the following of Bëor who entered the service of the Eldar of the House of Finarfin
People of the House of Bëor
Settled primarily in the region known as Ladros2
Dorthonion is pronounced 'dortho'nion'
Dorthonion means 'land of pines'


About this entry:

  • Updated 24 October 2022
  • This entry is complete

Men of Dorthonion

Descendants of the House of Bëor

Dorthonion was a land of forested highlands that formed part of the northern bulwark of Beleriand in the First Age. After the return of the Noldor to Middle-earth, this was one of several lands that fell under the dominion of Finrod son of Finarfin, who gave its direct rule over to his brothers Angrod and Aegnor.

It was Finrod who first encountered the race of Men as they wandered over the Blue Mountains, far away to the east and south of Dorthonion. Among those first Men to find their way into Beleriand was a leader named Bëor, and the Elf-lord developed a special friendship with Bëor and his people. Some years later, Finrod granted a part of Dorthonion to the descendants of Bëor as a fief, and the chieftains of the House of Bëor became the lords of Ladros, a region in the northeast of Dorthonion.

The first of these lords of the Men of Dorthonion was Boromir, the great-grandson of Bëor, who ruled in relatively peaceful times, and lived into his old age. He was succeeded by his son Bregor, who had a similarly prosperous rule, and lived to the age of eighty-nine.

The Dagor Bragollach and its Aftermath

Bregor's heir Bregolas was not so fortunate as his forebears. He succeeded to rule over the Men of Dorthonion in I 448, and knew just seven years of peace before disaster struck. In I 455, rivers of fire and burning vapours burst out from Angband and flowed southward across the plain of Ard-galen, followed by hosts of enemies. Lying on the southern edge of that plain, the heights of Dorthonion were in the direct path of this unforeseen Battle of Sudden Flame. The Elf-lords Angrod and Aegnor fell in that battle, as did Bregolas of Ladros, along with many of the warriors of the House of Bëor.

Those who could not fight were led away from Dorthonion by Emeldir, the wife of Bregolas' brother Barahir. After this time, Dorthonion fell under the power of the Dark Lord, and was transformed to become the haunted domain known as Taur-nu-Fuin. There were now almost no Men of Dorthonion remaining, but a handful stayed in the land and fought on. Led by Barahir, a band of thirteen survived among the hills and fells of Ladros, and struck at the servants of Morgoth where they could.

Barahir and his outlaw band continued their struggle for the next five years, but their cause was hopeless. They were betrayed to the hunters of Sauron by one of their own, and almost all were slain by the waters of Tarn Aeluin. Now only a single defender of Dorthonion remained alive: Beren son of Barahir, the last heir of lost Ladros. Forced to abandon the land of his birth, he escaped through the perilous mountains of Ered Gorgoroth on Dorthonion's southern face and found his way into the forest kingdom of Doriath. So the people of the Men of Dorthonion came to an end, but Beren himself would follow a fate that would lead him into the histories of Middle-earth.



We have two lines of evidence for dating the settlement of Dorthonion, and the first comes from Quenta Silmarillion 17, Of the Coming of Men into the West, where we're told that 'The Edain did not long dwell content in Estolad...' and that '....after some fifty years many thousands had entered the lands of the Kings.' These lands included Dorthonion (and indeed the coming of Men to Dorthonion is specifically mentioned in the same passage) which implies a date of about I 360 or shortly thereafter.

The second line of evidence comes the fact that we know the first lord of the Men of Dorthonion was Boromir, who was a great-grandson of Bëor the Old, and this raises something of a problem. In the year I 360, Boromir's father Boron was still alive, and would remain so for at least another four decades, which raises the question: why did Boromir become the first lord of the Men of Dorthonion, and not his father Boron?

There are at least two possible answers to this. Perhaps the most obvious solution would be to assume a much later date for the settlement of Dorthonion - in I 410, say, when Boron was dead and Boromir would have inherited the leadership of his people (the latest possible date on this reading would be I 432, the date of Boromir's own death). This does not, however, sit easily with the clear statement in the Silmarillion that this people 'did not long dwell' in Estolad, since it would require 'not long' to be a period of about forty years.

Perhaps a more plausible explanation would be that Boron gave up the leadership of his people to his son long before his death. Many of the older Edain remained behind in Estolad (Boron's contemporary Marach was known to have done just this), so perhaps Boromir led his people to Dorthonion while his father remained behind. Alternatively, it's possible that Boron entered the direct service of the Eldar as his grandfather Bëor had done, leaving Boromir to inherit his lordship. Lacking any detailed biography of Boron, it's impossible to be sure on these points, but a scenario like this fits the earlier dating of about I 360 much more easily, and reconciles the limited lines of evidence available.


We don't know of any specific settlements in Ladros, at least until the Dark Lord's forces overran Dorthonion after the Dagor Bragollach. After that time Barahir and his outlaws camped at Tarn Aeluin in the highlands between Ladros and Dorthonion proper, but that tarn was not a settlement beforehand (indeed we're told that there were '...wild heaths about it, and all that land was pathless and untamed...' in Quenta Silmarillion 19, Of Beren and Lúthien). Our only real glimpse of the former settlements of the Men of Dorthonion is of the house of Gorlim, one of Barahir's companions, which was a lonely homestead surrounded by fields and woods rather than part of a village or town.

See also...

Angrim, Ragnor


About this entry:

  • Updated 24 October 2022
  • This entry is complete

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