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"Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers."
The Two Towers, "The Passage of the Marshes"

The Dead Marshes, also known as the Mere of Dead Faces, was a wide[1] area of dark stagnant marshes east of the Emyn Muil and bordered on the east by the Dagorlad plain, site of the ancient Battle of Dagorlad during the War of the Last Alliance.[2]

History[]

DEAD MARSHES location map in middle earth

The Dead Marshes marked in red

The marshes predated the Battle of Dagorlad, but were not named until after the Battle of Dagorlad in the year 3434 of the late Second Age when the the Last Alliance of Elves and Men fought the forces of Mordor.[3] In the battle, many of the Galadhrim under Malgalad fled into the marshes where they were slain.[4] These Elves were later buried near the marshes, but over a long period of time, the graves were swallowed up as the marshes grew bigger. The water preserved the bodies and they remained visibly floating as Dead Faces which became Loicolícuma[5] sometime after.[2]

In the year 1944 of the Third Age when Gondor was at war with the Wainriders from Rhûn, King Ondoher's army was caught by surprise in Dagorlad, resulting in his death. As a consequence, many confused soldiers of his defeated army attempted to escape the Wainriders into the marshes where they presumably drowned.[6] When the general Eärnil II came north and defeated the Wainriders in the Battle of the Camp, he drove their remnant into the Dead Marshes where most of them perished.[7][8]

On February 1 of the year 3017, Aragorn II entered the outskirts of the marshes, discovering and capturing Gollum there before taking him to Mirkwood where he handed him over to Thranduil[8] in the Woodland Realm.[9]

The War of the Ring[]

Dead-Marshes-Water

Dead Faces in the water of the marshes

During the quest to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom, Gollum led Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee through the marshes. They entered the Dead Marshes at dawn on March 1 of the year 3019.[10] The passage was marked by lights and candles that danced about which Gollum called "candles of corpses"; it is likely that those who became entranced by the lights and attempted to touch the bodies drowned in the water and went down to join the dead. Frodo soon became entranced by these lights and attempted to reach out to feel the Dead Faces. Though Sam broke him out of his trance, Frodo was able to catch a small glimpse of the history of the more fair Dead Faces.[11] Gollum then told them that the dead could not be touched, suggesting that he once attempted to do so in the past. While passing through the marshes, a Nazgûl on a Black Wing passed overhead, terrifying Gollum enough that he started to slip into old speech-habits, which he had almost given up after swearing to serve the one who hold the ring. They exited the Marshes on the morning of March 2,[10] 3019.[2]

Inspiration[]

On December 31 of the year 1960, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to L.W. Forster speculating that while he did not believe that either world war "had any influence upon" The Lord of the Rings, the landscape of the "Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon" may have been subconsciously based upon his time in Northern France fighting in the Battle of the Somme during World War I. Despite this, however, Tolkien stated that they were more influenced by "William Morris and his Huns and Romans, as in The House of the Wolfings or The Roots of the Mountains" than any personal experience of his own.[12]

Tom Shippey elucidates on the resemblance of the Dead Marshes to a World War I battlefield in the 1996 documentary, A Film Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien.

In adaptations[]

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers[]

Dead Marshes sculpture

Sam, Gollum, and Frodo's experience at the Dead Marshes, portrayed as a limited edition miniature by Briggite Wuest of Wētā Workshop.

In the second installment of Peter Jackson's film trilogy in 2002, the Dead Marshes are shown as foggy ponds with jets of fire rather than the misty candle-flames described in the book. Frodo actually falls into one of the ponds, in which ghostly figures appear, and surround and reach for him, before Gollum pulls him out.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power[]

Map of lands east of Nen Hithoel - TRoP

The Grey Marshes shown in relation to Nen Hithoel and the Undercliffs.

In the fifth episode of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Season One, Elanor Brandyfoot's family is shown to pass through the marshes as part of their migration east. The location is here known as the Grey Marshes since the events of Season One take place before the Battle of Dagorlad.

Translations[]

Foreign Language Translated name
Afrikaans Dooie Vleie
Albanian Keneta Vdekur
Armenian Մահվան Ճահիճներ
Arabic المستنقعات الميتة
Azerbaijani Ölü Bataqlıqlar
Basque Hildako Padura
Belarusian Cyrillic мёртвыя Балоты
Bengali মৃত জলাভূমি
Bulgarian Cyrillic Мъртвите блата
Catalan Pantans Morts
Chinese (Hong Kong) 死亡沼澤
Corsican Paludes Morti
Czech Mrtvé močály
Danish Dødemarsken / Dødemandsmarsken
Dutch Dode Moerassen
Esperanto Mortintoj Marĉoj
Estonian Surnud Sood
Finnish Kalmansuot
French Marais des Morts
Galician Marismas Mortas
Georgian მკვდართა ჭაობი
German Totensümpfe
Greek Βάλτοι των Νεκρών
Gujarati ડેડ ભેજવાળી જમીન
Hebrew ביצות המתות
Hindi मृत दलदल
Hungarian Holt-láp
Icelandic Dauðarmýrar
Irish Gaelic Riasca Marbh
Italian Paludi Morte
Indonesian Rawa-rawa Mati
Japanese 死者の沼
Latin Paludes Mortuae
Latvian Miroņu Purvi
Lithuanian Negyvosios Pelkės
Japanese デッド沼地
Korean 죽은 늪
Kurdish (Sorani) مردوو تاڵاوەکانی Mirî Avzêl (Kurmanji)
Macedonian Cyrillic мртвите блата
Malaysian Paya-paya Mati
Malayalam ചത്ത ചതുപ്പുകളുടേയും
Maltese Bassasiet Mejta
Manx Claddeeyn Marroo ?
Mongolian Cyrillic үхсэн элбэгтэй
Nepalese मृत मार्शेस
Norwegian Daumyrene (Werenskiold tr.)
Daudemyrene (Bugge Høverstad tr.)
Occitan Mòrt Paluns
Pashto مړه جبه
Persian باتلاق مرده
Polish Martwe Bagna
Portuguese Pântanos Mortos (Brazil) Pântanos dos Mortos (Portugal)
Romanian Smârcurile Morții
Russian Мёртвые Топи
Sanskrit डेअद् मर्शेस्
Serbian Мртве баруштине (Cyrillic) Mrtve Baruštine (Latin)
Sindhi مئل دلدل
Sinhalese මළ වගුරු
Slovak Mŕtve močiare
Slovenian Mrtva močvirja
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Ciénaga de los Muertos
Swahili Mabwawa Wafu
Swedish Dödaträskmarker
Tagalog Poso ng mga patay
Tajik Cyrillic Деад Марсҳес
Tamil இறந்த சதுப்பு
Telugu డెడ్ చిత్తడినేలలు
Turkish Ölü Bataklıklar
Turkmen Öli Batgalyklar
Ukrainian Cyrillic Мертві болота
Urdu مردہ دلدل
Uzbek Деад Марсҳес (Cyrillic) O'lik Botqoqliklar (Latin)
Venetian Palude de Morte
Vietnamese đầm lầy chết
Welsh Corsydd Marw
Yiddish טויט מאַרשיז
Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:

Provinces/Regions:

Arnor | Dunland | Ettenmoors | Forochel | Forodwaith | Gondor | Harad | Ithilien | Khand | Lindon | Minhiriath | Mordor | Rhovanion | Rhûn | Rivendell | Rohan | The Shire

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Caradhras | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Mount Gundabad | Old Forest | Orod-na-Thôn | Tower Hills | Weathertop Hill

City/Fortifications:

Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost Erain | Hornburg | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Last Homely House | Tower of Amon Sûl | Tower of Orthanc | Osgiliath | Umbar | Utumno

Miscellaneous:

Argonath | Astulat | Buckland | Cair Andros | Dagorlad | Dead Marshes | Enedwaith | Fords of Isen | Gap of Rohan | Grey Havens

The rest of Arda:

Aman | Burnt Land of the Sun | Dark Land | Empty Lands | Neldoreth | New lands | Númenor | Tol Eressëa

References[]

  1. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, "The Hunt for the Ring", pg. 342
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers, Book Four, Ch. II: "The Passage of the Marshes", pgs. 232-7
  3. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  4. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", Appendix B: "The Sindarin Princes of the Silvan Elves"
  5. The Essays of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, "A Secret Vice", Notes, pgs 214, 222-3
  6. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, Part Three: The Third Age, II: "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", (i) The Northmen and the Wainriders
  7. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion," pg. 329
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  9. The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Ch. II: "The Council of Elrond", pg. 266
  10. 10.0 10.1 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Great Years"
  11. The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers, Book Four, Ch. V: "The Window on the West", pg. 275
  12. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition, Letter 226, pg. 432
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