Khazad-dûm, commonly known as Moria or the Dwarrowdelf, was an underground kingdom beneath the Misty Mountains. It was known for being the ancient realm of the Dwarves of Durin's Folk, and the most famed of all Dwarven realms.
Years of the Trees
The Dwarrowdelf was founded by Durin 'the Deathless' in the far distant past, long before the creation of the Sun and Moon. Durin had awakened at Mount Gundabad not long after the Elves first awoke, and as eldest among the Fathers of the Dwarves was acknowledged as preeminent among them, a status subsequently inherited by his descendants, the kings of the Longbeards.
From Mount Gundabad, Durin's growing clan "spread southward down the vales of Anduin", all the while "under attack from the Orcs of Morgoth". According to legend, Durin ultimately found "a glen of shadows between two great arms of the mountains, above which three white peaks were shining". Within this heavily wooded valley, a long series of short waterfalls led down to a long, oval lake, which appeared to have a magical quality: "There, like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars, though sunlight was in the sky above". Perceiving these stars as a crown glittering above his head, Durin took this as an auspicious sign, and named the lake Kheled-zâram, the 'Mirrormere'.
The three peaks overshadowing the lake he named Barazinbar 'the Redhorn', Zirakzigil 'the Silvertine' and Bundushathûr, 'Cloudyhead'. The icy cold springs below the lake he called Kibil-nâla (the source of the Silverlode), and the valley itself he gave the name Azanulbizar, the Dimrill Dale. Durin chose the eastward-facing caves above Kheled-zâram as the earliest beginnings of his new stronghold.
All of these places became revered amongst Durin's people in later days. His descendants erected a rune-carved stone monolith – Durin's Stone—on the site where he had first looked into the Mirrormere, and although it had become indecipherably weatherworn by the end of the Third Age—broken, cracked and faded—the influence of Durin I, the founding king of Khazad-dûm, was never forgotten.
The long reign of Khazad-dûm's first king was a golden age, remembered as Durin's Day (this name was also applied to the Dwarvish New Year). During that period Khazad-dûm grew continuously in size and population, until it became the "greatest of all the mansions of the Dwarves", even before the return of the Ñoldor to Middle-earth. By that time, Khazad-dûm was already "a name and a rumour from the words of the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains" to all the Eldar of Beleriand.
After his death, the reputation of Durin's realm continued to grow, not merely due to his spiritual ascendancy over the other Fathers of the Dwarves as their eldest, or to Dwarrowdelf's growing size, but to its great wealth founded upon the uniquely precious metal mithril, which was universally prized yet found nowhere else in Middle-earth.
Khazad-dûm played no part in the wars of Beleriand, and in fact gained a respite from orc attacks throughout the First Age, "when Morgoth needed all his strength" elsewhere. The Longbeards maintained contact with all the other six dwarf clans, and after early Men arrived in Rhovanion, Khazad-dûm quickly began trading with them, exchanging the products of their growing metallurgical and masonry skills for food, to the great profit of both peoples.
The eventual death of Durin 'the Deathless' occurred before the end of the First Age. He was buried in a tomb in Khazad-dûm.
Early in the Second Age, Khazad-dûm's realm of Longbeards was enriched in culture, skills, and population by large numbers of refugees from Belegost and Nogrod, cities ruined at the end of the First Age along with most of Beleriand in the cataclysmic final battle against Morgoth. The Dwarves of those cities struggled for forty further years after the cataclysms, before many of them made the difficult decision to leave their homelands behind and cross Eriador, to the now great and ancient Dwarrowdelf. The Dwarves of Belegost and Nogrod were not Longbeards, but Broadbeams and Firebeards. Whether they remained separate clans or groups within their new home, or became merged with the Longbeards, is not known.
At the same time, Orcs once again became "well-armed and very numerous, cruel, savage, and reckless in assault. In the battles that followed the Dwarves were outnumbered, and though they were the most redoubtable warriors of all the Speaking Peoples they were glad to make alliance with Men." The Longbeards consequently came to dominate the northern and central Hithaeglir and the lands east of there, although Khazad-dûm had always "regarded the Iron Hills, The Ered Mithrin, and the east dales of the Misty Mountains as their own land". Ultimately, these Men then assisted the dwarves of Khazad-dûm "in the ordering of the lands that they had secured".
With the foundation of the Ñoldorin realm of Eregion to the west of Khazad-dûm around SA 700, friendly relations between the Longbeards and the Elves were firmly established. Many of the Elves then became involved in the development of Khazad-dûm's mansions as a consequence, and it "became far more beautiful" during this period.
This friendship also resulted in a massive westwards extension of the subterranean realm of Khazad-dûm. Its habitable parts remained in the eastward side, but passages were delved through miles of rock that terminated at a gigantic stone portal—the West Gate. This stood on the borders of Eregion, and "opened out into their country and was chiefly used by them." Celebrimbor, the Lord of Eregion, used ithildin lettering on this gate on behalf of its builder: his friend Narvi , a great craftsman of Khazad-dûm. The inscription read, Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant i thiw hin: "I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Eregion drew these signs."
The West Gate allowed the Elf lady Galadriel and her followers to pass eastwards through Khazad-dûm and establish Lothlórien downstream of Azanulbizar. Galadriel's rule enabled Nandorin elves to return to Lothlórien; they had earlier evacuated the area to escape Khazad-dûm's growing power.
All of the Dwarrowdelf was originally illuminated by many "shining lamps of crystal", although the halls of the highest level were also lit with windows and shafts carved through the mountain sides. These levels lay between flights of fifty or more stone steps, with seven hollowed out of the mountains above ground level, and many more subterranean levels—or 'Deeps'—beneath the Great Gates at the head of the Dimrill Dale. Every level comprised a multitude of arched passages, chambers and many pillared halls, often with "black walls, polished and smooth as glass". Below the level of the Gates lay mines, treasuries and even dungeons, although far below the lowest Deep of Khazad-dûm, lay primordial tunnels in perpetual darkness, gnawed by 'nameless things' that had lived there since the earliest beginnings of Arda. Few if any actually ever glimpsed these creatures, and no description of them is extant (with the possible exception of the Watcher in the Water, which Gandalf suggested may have come from these regions.)
One important feature of the Dwarrowdelf was the defensive structure known as Durin's Bridge, "a slender bridge of stone, without kerb or rail", that spanned a fifty foot wide chasm of indeterminate depth, allowing enemy soldiers to cross it only in single file (one after another), not side by side. Another, steeped in legend, was the Endless Stair, which ascended "from the lowest dungeon to the highest peak", where it terminated within Durin's Tower, carved from the solid rock at the tip of Zirakzigil.
During the War of the Elves and Sauron Eregion was destroyed and the survivors, along with a relief army led by Elrond were in danger of being overtaken and destroyed. But Durin III sent an army of Dwarves which attacked Sauron's army in the rear, allowing the Elves to escape. Following the battle the Dwarves retreated into their city and closed the gates. It is unclear if the Ring of Power possessed by the House of Durin was given to them by Sauron, as the Dwarves themselves held that it had been given by Celebrimbor himself directly to Durin III, although it had certainly been created by the Dark Lord.
Afterwards, Sauron harboured deep hatred for Khazad-dûm and ordered his Orcs to trouble Durin's folk at every turn, even though "the halls of Khazad-dûm were too deep and strong and filled with a people too numerous and valiant for Sauron to conquer from without". Despite this, "its people began to dwindle" from this time, possibly due to the loss of provisions that had been provided by Men in the vales of Anduin. During the reign of Durin IV the Dwarves joined the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, fighting against Sauron in the Battle of Dagorlad and Siege of Barad-dûr.
Throughout the early Third Age, the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm expanded their treasure, but their numbers began to dwindle. The majority of their wealth was based on their hoards of Mithril, which they mined in their deepest tunnels, and as the centuries went by the Dwarves delved ever deeper for the precious metal.
In TA 1980, they dug too deeply and greedily for Mithril and to their loss they unearthed a nameless terror in the depths beneath the city. This dreadful creature wrought destruction throughout the city wiping out most of the Dwarves and slaying King Durin VI. Thereafter the creature was named Durin's Bane. The Dwarves tried to fight but the following year Durin's son Náin I was also slain, forcing the Dwarves to abandon their home for good. After the Dwarves had left, Khazad-dûm gathered dust and stood dark and empty, but for the sinister creature that lurked in the depths. This was when it was named Moria, the Black Pit.
The monster, later revealed as a Balrog of Morgoth, remained alone in Moria for nearly five centuries until it was populated once again, but not by Dwarves. The Orcs, refugees from the north, began to raid the abandoned city of its treasures and occupied it. They came upon the Balrog and began to worship it as their deity. Sauron started to send out troops of Orcs and Cave Trolls to populate Moria, making the abandoned city a stronghold for them to multiply. During the Battle of Azanulbizar, many of these Orcs were felled in the valley beneath the eastern gate of Moria in TA 2799, and the numbers were reduced dramatically. But the Balrog still remained and many Orcs and Trolls with him, and so Khazad-dûm remained a stronghold of evil.
In TA 2989, the Longbeards, descendants of the ancient Durin Folk living at the Lonely Mountain, ignited an attempt to reclaim and recolonize their ancestral dwelling - Khazad-dûm. The expedition was led by Balin son of Fundin, one of Thorin Oakenshield's Company of Dwarves who accompanied Bilbo Baggins on the Quest of Erebor. He led a group of Dwarves from Erebor to Moria, and successfully drove back the Orcs, taking many of the eastern halls and recovering priceless ancestral treasures such as Durin's Axe. However, the Balrog remained active and the number of Orcs was too great compared to their small company and all, including Balin, were slain in TA 2994.
Quest of the Ring
When the Hobbits Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin; the Men Aragorn and Boromir; the Dwarf Gimli; the Elf Legolas; and the Wizard Gandalf set out from Rivendell on the Quest of the Ring, they were forced to make their way through Moria after the failed attempt of climbing Caradhras (Redhorn) where they were pursued by Wargs. They entered through the western-gate near a lake with dark waters from which a tentacular monster emerged and attempted to kill Frodo. When inside, the Fellowship passed through many tunnels and great halls until finally reaching the Chamber of Mazarbul and finding a book, explaining the last accounts of Balin's expedition.
They were then taken by surprise as Orcs and cave Trolls pursued them through Moria to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm where the Balrog rose from the depths. Gandalf bravely confronted the creature and the two briefly dueled on the bridge before plunging together into the abyss below. This saved Gandalf's friends' lives as they carried on out of Moria into Dimrill Dale. Gandalf and the Balrog both survived the fall; the wizard then pursued the monster up the Endless Stair to the peak of Celebdil, where a final battle took place. In the end, Gandalf defeated the Balrog and cast its corpse down onto the mountain side, before succumbing to the wounds of his battle.
Following their exile from Khazad-dûm, the Longbeard Dwarves always yearned for their homeland, even after more than a thousand years had passed; Azanulbizar became "the deep-shadowed valley which we cannot forget", just as they felt compelled to continue incorporating "the image of those mountains into many works of metal and stone, and into many songs and tales. They stand tall in our dreams.."
With the destruction of the Balrog, the way was at last clear for the Longbeards to reclaim the Dwarrowdelf, and it is told that a few centuries into the Fourth Age, Durin VII – a descendant (some sources say the son) of Thorin III Stonehelm – at last led his people back to their longed-for ancient homeland, retrieving what they could of Khazad-dûm's once-mighty riches.
- Dwarrowdelf (Westron translation of Khazad-dûm)
- Hadhodrond (Sindarin translation of Khazad-dûm)
- Halls of Durin
- Mines of Moria
Portrayal in adaptations
Moria is depicted in both Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film The Lord of the Rings, and in the 2001 live-action film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Its depths are seen in Frodo's dream at the very start of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, as Gandalf fights the Balrog while falling.
Moria appears again briefly in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in a flashback to the Battle of Azanulbizar, in which Azog kills Thrór, only then to be defeated (though not killed) by Thorin Oakenshield.
Moria is depicted in the video games The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth (Good campaign only), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, The Lord of the Rings Online, and The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Морыя (Moria)
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Мория (Moria)
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||摩瑞亞 (Moria)
|Georgian||მორია (Moria)/კჰაზად-დუმ (Khazad-dûm)|
|Greek||Μορια (Moria)/Κχάζαντ-Ντουμ (Khazad-dûm)|
קְהָזָד דוּם (Khazad-dûm)
|Kazakh||Моріа (Cyrillic) Moria (Latin)|
|Serbian||Морија (Cyrillic) Moria (Latin)
Казад-дум (Cyrillic) Kazad-dum (Latin)
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Морія (Moria)
|Uzbek||Мория (Cyrillic) Moriya (Latin)|
|Dwarven Realms of Middle-earth throughout the Ages|
|Years of the Trees:||Amon Rûdh | Belegost | Khazad-dûm | Mount Gundabad | Nogrod | Nulukkizdîn | Blue Mountains|
|First Age:||Amon Rûdh | Belegost | Khazad-dûm | Mount Gundabad | Nogrod | Nulukkizdîn | Iron Hills | Blue Mountains|
|Second Age:||Khazad-dûm | Belegost | Nogrod | Mount Gundabad | Blue Mountains | Iron Hills|
|Third Age:||Grey Mountains | Iron Hills | Khazad-dûm | Lonely Mountain | Blue Mountains | Dunland|
|Fourth Age:||Glittering Caves | Khazad-dûm | Lonely Mountain | Blue Mountains | Grey Mountains | Iron Hills|
- The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, "Of the Sindar"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers, III. "Durin's Folk"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Ch. VI: "Lothlórien"
- J. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings
- The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter X: "Of the Sindar"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
- Unfinished Tales (George Allen & Unwin publication), Part 2, Chapter IV, pg. 235
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IV: "A Journey in the Dark"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter V: "The Bridge of Khazad-dûm"
- The Complete Guide to Middle-earth