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Last Bridge

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The Last Bride.jpg
Last Bridge
Physical Description
TypeBridge
LocationEastern Eriador on the East-West Road
RealmsArnor
Rhudaur
DescriptionAncient stone bridge

The Last Bridge was an ancient stone bridge[1] that carried the East-West Road over the River Hoarwell (Mitheithel), about a hundred miles east of Weathertop and roughly the same distance west of Rivendell.[2] Its three arches[3] crossed the rushing river at the bottom of a deep valley[1] and to the east the land rose again into the wooded hills of the Trollshaws.[2] It was the only practicable crossing point south of the river's sources in the Ettenmoors.[3]

[edit] History

How ancient the bridge was is unknown. It may have been as old as the East-West Road, which possibly dated to the First Age,[4] or it may have been built or improved by the Númenóreans.[5] In the Third Age the bridge was within the bounds of the realm of Arnor and then Rhudaur,[2] and probably these two realms kept up the maintenance of this strategic structure.

In T.A. 2941[6] Thorin and Company passed over the bridge on their way to the Lonely Mountain. After the crossing the one of the ponies bolted back into the river and its load of food was lost. This loss of provisions and the dwarves' inability to ignite a fire in the wind and rain led to the encounter of Bilbo Baggins and his companions with the unfriendly trio of trolls.[1]

On 11 October T.A. 3018[7] three Black Riders were guarding the bridge against Aragorn and the hobbits on their journey to Rivendell. Their plan was foiled by Glorfindel, who drove them away[3] and left his token, a green beryl, on the Bridge. Two days later[7] Aragorn found the beryl, took it as a sign that the bridge was safe, and led the hobbits over it.[3]

[edit] Other Versions of the Legendarium

In the 1960 abandoned rewrite of The Hobbit the Last Bridge was more prominent in the story. When the Company came to the bridge they found its single arch broken (J.R.R. Tolkien had forgotten in this draft that the bridge had three arches in The Fellowship of the Ring - see above). The company had to cross the dangerous ford instead. Gandalf (not yet vanished as in the published story) tried the crossing first on his horse Rohald. His success led to the dwarves crossing, followed by Bilbo, although one of the pack-ponies still bolted back into the river.[8]

The 1960 rewrite ended in the next chapter just as the Company came to the edge of the valley of Rivendell. In a note regarding contents yet to write it was stated "Ch. III should make clear Elrond's care for roads etc. from Greyflood to <Mountains>".[9] This would explain how the Last Bridge got fixed before Frodo Baggins arrived and found structure intact.

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Flight to the Ford"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn", notes 3 and 4
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Index, Roads, (2) East of the Blue Mountains
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, "The Fifth Phase", "New Chapter II. The Broken Bridge", pp. 795-796
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit, Return to Bag-End, "The Fifth Phase", "New Chapter III. Arrival in Rivendell", p. 803