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East Road

"I shan't call it the end, till we've cleared up the mess." — Sam
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Matěj Čadil - Great East Road.jpg
East-West Road
Physical Description
LocationRunning from Blue Mountains through central Eriador to the Misty Mountains
RealmsEriador, Arnor, The Shire
InhabitantsHobbits, Men, Dwarves, Elves
General Information
Other namesGreat East Road

The East-West Road or Great East Road was the long road that ran east to west through Eriador, and crossed the Greenway at Bree. More commonly called simply the East Road.

The Great East Road was originally laid by the Dwarves probably during the First Age[source?], and ran from the Iron Hills through Rhovanion to Khazad-dûm, from which it continued across Eriador to the Blue Mountains, and then on into Kingdom of Doriath in Beleriand.

The western parts were built to facilitate the passage of companies of Dwarf craftsmen (and later, their armed escort) across eastern Beleriand, before the Battle of the Thousand Caves by the dwarves of Nogrod ended their trade.[source?]

After the ruination of Nogrod and neighbouring Belegost, focus shifted to the eastern part of the ancient road, which had been built by the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm in the Misty Mountains. Khazad-dûm's inhabitants, the Longbeard Dwarves, continued to grow in power and influence, and their trading needs meant that the road from the Iron Hills that travelled through Mirkwood to their gates, known as the Dwarf-road, became widely known. On the western side of the Misty Mountains, after traversing the High Pass, the road continued to the Blue Mountains, and this part ultimately became known as the Great East Road in later days.

When the Númenórean realm-in-exile of Arnor was founded, the Arnorians took over the maintenance of the Great East Road, and built several fortresses on or near it (including Weathertop), and expanded or created bridges over the rivers Brandywine (Bridge of Stonebows) and Hoarwell (Last Bridge). After Arnor was divided in Third Age 861, the Great East Road formed the boundary between two of its successor states, Cardolan and Rhudaur.

By the time of the War of the Ring in the late Third Age, where the Great East Road met the Greenway lay the ancient village of Bree. A days ride east lay The Forsaken Inn, beyond which lay Rivendell. West of the crossroads the Hobbits had colonized the Shire, and their most important towns lay athwart the East Road; (Hobbiton and Michel Delving to name two).

[edit] Other versions

Originally, the Road made two great curves: a great loop south of Weathertop to the North-east and then made a great bend southwards, round the feet of the Trollshaws; the text of the First Edition reflects this by saying "the Road bent back again southward towards the River". Because of Christopher Tolkien's "carelessness" in the 1954 published map, the Road has only a small northward curve between Weathertop and the Last Bridge, and then runs in a straight line to the Ford of Bruinen. In the Second Edition onwards, in order to agree with the map, the portion of the text was corrected to "the Road behind held on its way to the River Bruinen".[1]

The relevant map in Barbara Strachey's atlas Journeys of Frodo reflects the earlier descriptions.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: XI. From Weathertop to the Ford, Note on the course of the Road between Weathertop and Rivendell"