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Probably the result of the War of the Last Alliance, II 3429 - II 34411
The desolate land between the plain of Dagorlad and the Black Gate of the Morannon
Associated with the Black Land of Mordor, ruled by Sauron, a Maia; Orcs and Men allied with Sauron passed through this land to enter Mordor
Cirith Gorgor, the Haunted Pass guarded by the Morannon, lay to the south of the Noman-lands
Unclaimed or unoccupied land2
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 31 March 2024
  • This entry is complete


The barren lands outside Mordor’s Black Gate

Map of the Noman-lands

The name given to a desolate region near the Gates of Mordor, in and around the land where the Battle of Dagorlad had been fought at the end of the Second Age. Even at the end of the Third Age, little grew in this stark land, in which withered peats lay separated by tracts of dried mud. This was an area of low sloping rises that lay between the Dead Marshes to the northwest, and the blasted ash heaps of the Desolation of the Morannon extending out from Mordor's Black Gate.

There can be little doubt that Tolkien chose the name 'Noman-lands' to reflect the 'No Man's Land' of the First World War, of which he had personal experience. Indeed, he used the label 'No Man's Land' on early maps for The Lord of the Rings, though the term did not survive into the published book. Unlike the historical 'No Man's Land', however, the Noman-lands of Mordor do not seem to have originated in war. They were said to have been made through the '...dark labour of [Mordor's] slaves...' (The Two Towers IV 2), so they were apparently created intentionally.



The origins of the Noman-lands are extremely difficult to date. Our only references to them come from the time of the War of the Ring, with little indication of how long these lands had been devastated. Tolkien's choice of the name implies a connection with warfare, hence the assumption here that the Noman-lands arose during the long War of the Last Alliance, the last major war to be fought in this area until the end of the Third Age.

It is not impossible that the Noman-lands predated that War, perhaps going back as far as about the year II 1000, when Sauron first established himself within Mordor. There were no wars during this earlier period, so if the Desolation did indeed predate the War of the Last Alliance, it would seem to have arisen simply due to Sauron's malign influence on the landscape around Mordor.


The term 'Noman-lands' (or 'No Man's Land') is most familiar with reference to the First World War, when it was used for land held by neither of the opposing forces. There can be no real doubt that Tolkien had precisely this meaning in mind when he chose his name for this desolate region. It might very well have formed a literal 'No Man's Land' in this specific sense at the end of the Second Age, when it lay between the armies of the Last Alliance and the Black Gate of Mordor.

The use of the phrase in war, however, was itself a borrowing from an older usage, in which the phrase simply meant unclaimed or unoccupied land, generally on the borders between two states or fiefs. This older meaning seems to have been more relevant at the end of the Third Age, when this blighted landscape was desolate and uninhabited, but had not been the site of warfare for many centuries.


About this entry:

  • Updated 31 March 2024
  • This entry is complete

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