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Orfalch Echor

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The Orfalch Echor was the ravine of the Dry River in the Encircling Mountains, the route by which the hidden city of Gondolin was approached. At its lower end was the First Gate, the Gate of Wood. The Orfach continued through the the remainder of the Seven Gates of Gondolin, reaching the Seventh Gate, the Gate of Steel. At the upper end was a high sward that offered a view of Tumladen and the city in its center.[1]


To decipher Orfalch Echor, it can be compared to the similar but early (Gnomish) name Glorfalc "Golden Cleft" (in later writings called Cirith Ninniach)[2]. The element falc in that name meant "cleft", and it seems probable that later Sindarin falch has a similar meaning.

The initial element of Orfalch is probably derived from the root ORO "up, rise"[3], while the element echor "outer circle" is also attested in the name Rammas Echor "Great Wall of the Outer Circle"[4].

Thus, the meaning of Orfalch Echor might be something like "Upper Cleft of the Outer Circle".


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "Appendix: Names in the Lost Tales – Part II", p. 341
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", ORO
  4. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 512