Tolkien Gateway

Durthang

Durthang
Fortress
Shadow of Mordor - Durthang.jpg
General Information
LocationNorthern Ephel Dúath, west of the valley of Udûn
TypeFortress
InhabitantsGondorians (early)
Orcs and other evil creatures (later)
GalleryImages of Durthang
"A few miles north, high up in the angle where the western spur branched away from the main range, stood the old castle of Durthang, now one of the many orc-holds that clustered about the dale of Udûn."
The Return of the King, "The Land of Shadow"

Durthang was an old castle in northern Mordor. It stood in the northern Ephel Dúath, on the southwestern slopes above the valley of Udûn, overlooking the Morannon and the Isenmouthe.[1][2]

Contents

[edit] History

It is possible that Durthang was originally a fortress of Gondor.[3] The Gondorians had constructed several fortresses overlooking the entrance to Mordor in the aftermath of the War of the Last Alliance like the Towers of the Teeth[4] or the Tower of Cirith Ungol[5].[6][note 1] After the Great Plague devastated Gondor in T.A. 1636,[7] the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased and the fortresses that guarded the passes were unmanned in T.A. 1640 because of a lack of troops,[8][9] which possibly included Durthang. It is possible that Durthang was later reoccupied and manned by troops from Gondor, because in T.A. 1944 when king Ondoher of Gondor and both his sons fell in a battle against the Wainriders north of the Morannon[10][11] the Morannon and the Towers of the Teeth were still manned by troops from Gondor.[12] It is possible that Durthang was occupied by Orcs in T.A. 1980 when the Witch-king came to Mordor and gathered the Nazgûl there.[13] At the time of the War of the Ring Durthang was an Orcish stronghold.[1]

[edit] War of the Ring

On 18 March, T.A. 3019,[14] a troop of Orcs from Durthang caught up with a band of Orcs that was marching eastward in Mordor. Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee were in that band, disguised as Orcs and they were forced to march along with the troop for some distance before they were able to slip away.[1]

[edit] Etymology

Durthang is Sindarin for "Dark Oppression",[15] from dûr ("dark") + thang ("oppression").[16]

[edit] Portrayal in adaptations

1987-96: Middle-earth Role Playing:

In the Gates of Mordor adventure module it is mentioned that Durthang was built by the Dúnedain of Gondor at the beginning of the Third Age after the fall of Sauron to keep evil things from re-entering Mordor and to monitor the interior of Mordor. It is mentioned that the Gondorian troops abandoned Durthang after the plague and that it was afterwards occupied by the immortal demonic werewolf Gaurhir and a garrison of orcs. The castle of Durthang consists of five interconnected towers with its spire surpassing a height of 200 feet. Durthang consists of a ground floor, three levels and caverns below the ground floor.
In the Gorgoroth campain module it is described that Sauron called the Ringwraith Hoarmurath of Dír to Mordor in T.A. 1640 and that he met with seven of the other Ringwraiths except the Witch-king at the castle of Ostigurth and then occupied the abandoned castle Durthang and resided there until T.A. 2000 when he joined the other Ringwraiths in the siege of Minas Ithil. After the Ringwraiths conquered Minas Ithil in T.A. 2002 the Ringwraith Hoarmurath of Dír took Minas Morgul as his permanent residence. From T.A. 2000 on the demonic werewolf Gaurhir took command of Durthang and remained there as Hoarmurath's servant. It is mentioned that the basic garrison of Durthang consists of 36 Uruk-hai and 90 orcs.
In the Teeth of Mordor module in the Fortresses of Middle-earth series it is described that Isildur began a grand plan to seal off Mordor and that the construction of Durthang began before the end of T.A. 3019 and was completed during the reign of Anardil (T.A. 324 - T.A. 411). It is mentioned that by T.A. 1640 the last citadel guarding Mordor was abandoned. It is said that in the same year of the closing of the Dúnadan fortresses guarding Mordor Sauron sent all Ringwraiths except the Witch-king and Khamûl to lake Núrnen with the mission to ready Mordor for his return. It is described that they sent scouts north who found that the Gondorian fortresses were abandoned and that the Ringwraith Hoarmurath of Dír occupied Durthang. It is further said that Gondor concerned with internal matters scarcely noted the activity.

2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor:

Durthang is one of the strongholds in Udûn, which is the starting location of the game.

2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Durthang was added, along with a number of landmarks in Mordor, in the game's sixth major expansion.
It was originally called "Durthand", and was the stronghold of an order known as the "Thandrim". During the reign of Eärnil II, Durthand was cut off from support from Gondor, leaving many Thandrim to starve. In a year, the sixty survivors surrendered to "Ugrukhôr", one of Sauron's chief lieutenants, in exchange for safe passage through the Black Gate. Ugrukhôr let the Thandrim leave Mordor, only to have archers slay them all as soon as they passed the Black Gate, save one he spared to report these events to Gondor: "Halannon the Survivor".
Shortly after Sauron's fall, Durthang is still occupied by Orcs and Black Númenórean servants of Ugrukhôr.

Notes

  1. The history of Durthang is not explained in the text, but the Sindarin name (possibly Gondor Sindarin), location, and description in The Land of Shadow, strongly suggest that it shared the same history as other Gondorian fortresses. Robert Foster accepts this scenario which he states like a fact in The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, without providing a specific source. Christopher Tolkien also seems to accept it as "...originally a fortress of Gondor" in the Sauron Defeated Index, but without disclosing a source for that statement.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Land of Shadow"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Map of Rohan, Gondor, and Mordor"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Index I: To Part One The End of the Third Age", entry Durthang, p. 444
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed", second paragraph
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  6. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry "Durthang"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1636 of the Third Age
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Telemnar
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1640 of the Third Age
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Ondoher
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", note 15
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1980 of the Third Age
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", entry for 18 March 3019
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 610
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entries dûr, thang