Dale was situated in the valley between the south-western and south-eastern arms of the Lonely Mountain, nestled in a sharp U-shaped bend of the River Running. It was known as a merry town that traded, mainly in food-supplies, for the skills and craft-pieces of the Dwarves of Erebor. Dale's toy market was the wonder of the North and the town was renowned also for its bells.
In TA 2590 King Thrór re-established the Kingdom under the Mountain. The realm prospered and Northmen living to the south came up the River Running and built Dale. The town shared in the prosperity of the Dwarves and it was governed by the Lord of Dale, of whom the last was named Girion.
In TA 2770 Smaug descended upon the Dwarf-kingdom. Although the Men of Dale fielded warriors against the monster they could not prevent him from killing or scattering the Dwarves and then occupying the Lonely Mountain. After the attack the dragon would crawl out of the Front Gate of the Mountain by night and carry away people (especially maidens) from Dale to eat. The remaining population soon fled and the deserted city fell into ruin.
The death of Smaug and the Battle of Five Armies occurred in TA 2941. Three years after the battle, Dale was rebuilt by Bard the Bowman, who had killed the dragon and was the descendant of Girion. Dale soon again enjoyed prosperity: Bard founded the Kingdom of Dale and it gathered men from the Long Lake, the South, and the West. Lake-town was rebuilt and grew wealthy from traffic with Dale. Its people became known as Bardings, after their new ruler.
War of the Ring
During the reign of King Brand, the grandson of Bard the Bowman, Dale served as the capital for the lands he ruled, which extended far south and east of Lake-town. However, as Glóin revealed at the Council of Elrond, in TA 3017 a messenger from Mordor came to ask King Dáin II Ironfoot at the gate to the Lonely Mountain for news of Hobbits and to ask for Bilbo's Ring. Messengers had also come to King Brand and there were enemies gathering upon the Kingdom of Dale's eastern borders. During the War of the Ring, the Easterlings crossed the border and moved to attack the city. On March 17 TA 3019 the Battle of Dale began. Not able to hold back the Easterlings, the Bardings and their allies, the Dwarves of Erebor, retreated into the Lonely Mountain, but lost Kings Brand and Dáin Ironfoot who were both slain at the Gate of Erebor. For seven days the Men and Dwarves barricaded themselves in Erebor until news came from the south of the defeat of Sauron. The new kings of Dale and Erebor (Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm), broke the siege and chased the Easterlings out of Dale.
After the Battle of Dale, the Easterlings did not trouble Dale in the future. King Bard II also sent an ambassador to the crowning of King Elessar. Dale remained independent but in friendship with Gondor and under the protection and crown of the King of the West.
The word dale means "valley" - the city was built in the River Running's valley between two arms of the Lonely Mountain.
Other versions of the legendarium
J.R.R. Tolkien specifies no founding date for Dale. In The Hobbit, Thorin tells Bilbo that men built “the merry town of Dale” during the time when his grandfather Thrór was King under the Mountain, soon after TA 2590. This is the only definitive statement. However, in Unfinished Tales, a section contains a lengthy description of the wars between Gondor and the Wainriders. In that story, the following comment is found (after the defeat of King Narmacil II of Gondor in TA 1856):
As for the Northmen, a few, it is said, fled over the Celduin (River Running) and were merged with the folk of Dale under Erebor (with whom they were akin), some took refuge in Gondor, and others were gathered by Marhwini son of Marhari (who fell in the rearguard action after the Battle of the Plains).
—Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
It is possible to reconcile the texts if TA 1856 is seen as the year of the foundation of the first, primitive Northmen settlements in the area with the years after TA 2590 as the foundation of the city with the coming of the Dwarves; the canonicity of this, however, is unknown.
Portrayal in adaptations
- The City of Dale appears in the Erebor map, just south-east of the mountain itself. It appears to contain several houses, taverns and bridges, as well as a statue of a man. The city is built around the mountain's river.
Fall of Dale
In TA 2770 Smaug descended upon the Dwarf-kingdom. Although the Men of Dale fielded warriors against the monster the speed and power of the dragon's assault was overwhelming, whilst Girion, Lord of the city, fired several Black Arrows at Smaug, these were ineffective, save for one that removed a scale of the dragon's armour, creating a weakness.
- The ruined city of Dale appears briefly when Bilbo Baggins and the Dwarves are heading for Erebor.
Battle of Five Armies
Smaug is killed in T.A. 2941, but not before conflagrating Lake-town. The surviving refugees seek shelter in the ruins of Dale, and are bolstered by the arrival of Thranduil, who brings provisions alongside his army. They proceed to Erebor to bargain with Thorin; Bard wants to resolve the conflict without going to war, however, Thorin refuses to negotiate due to being consumed by the gold sickness that once plagued his grandfather. Returning to the city, Bard tells Thranduil what has happened and that going to war is the only option. During the night, Bilbo Baggins gives them the Arkenstone to ransom to Thorin in exchange for their promised treasure. During the Battle of the Five Armies, the Siege of Dale takes place, where both Elves and Men fight Azog's army.
The fighting spills into the streets of Dale, forcing Bard to retreat to defend the women and the children who remain among its ruins. The great hall on top of the hill serves as a refugee for most of the elderly, the women and the children during the fighting, although many of them choose to stand and fight. With Thorin leading a charge that pushes the Orcs back in the Long Valley, the defenders are able to get the upper hand before Thorin went to Ravenhill to confront Azog. A second army by Bolg arrives, but is thwarted by Beorn. Despite Dol Guldur's greater strength, the army is defeated. Those who survive the battle gather and honor those who have fallen.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||河谷鎮|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Valle|
|Amon Ereb • Brethil • Dor-lómin • Estolad • Ladros • Rhûn • Harad • Eriador|
|Arnor • Dunland • Gondor • Harad • Númenor • Rhûn • Umbar|
|Arnor (later split into Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur) • Rohan • City of Dale (later became a Kingdom) • Dunland • Lake-town (later part of the Kingdom of Dale) • Gondor • Harad • Khand • Kingdom of Rhovanion • Rhûn • Umbar • Vales of Anduin|
|Kingdom of Dale • Harad • Núrn • Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor • Rohan • Rhûn • Khand • Eriador • Rhovanion • Vales of Anduin|
- The Hobbit, "Thrór's Map"
- The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
- The Hobbit, "On the Doorstep"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
- The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
- The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
- The Hobbit, "The Last Stage"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, "Many Meetings"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, "The Council of Elrond"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years"