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Mirkwood was a great forest in Middle-earth located in the eastern region of Rhovanion between the Grey Mountains and Gondor.

It was also known as Greenwood the Great, Eryn Galen or Taur-e-Ndaedelos, and was later re-named Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves.

Description

Map of Mirkwood in Wilderland, from The Hobbit.

Mirkwood was a dense and heavy woodland that made up much of the eastern portion of Rhovanion or the Wilderland, that maintained its borders and relative shape for many ages. Its natural land features included (in the northern part of the forest) the Mountains of Mirkwood, a sizable river referred to in Tolkien's map as the Forest River, that ran from the Grey Mountains down to Long Lake, and a smaller river that ran from the Mountains of Mirkwood to join with the Forest River west of the Elven-king's Halls.[1] This smaller river was enchanted (or polluted) to such an extent that it caused slumber and forgetfulness to anyone who fell into it.[2]

Mirkwood's climate was relatively mild.[3] Except for ways through the thickets of the forest, there were very few common routes through Mirkwood save for the Old Forest Road and the Forest Path. Mirkwood was approximately 600 miles long from north to south, and 250 miles across at its width. During the events of The Hobbit it was home to giant spiders, and the kingdom of King Thranduil and his Wood-elves[4]; the Woodmen of Mirkwood also inhabited a small part of the forest.

History

Mirkwood 01.jpg

The forest that would become Mirkwood dates back to the earliest days of Middle-earth. The Elves passed through it on their Great Journey from Cuiviénen into the Far West - it was where they made their first long stop before continuing onward. Thereafter, Greenwood the Great was the dwelling of the Wood-elves (the Nandor, elves descending from the wandering Teleri elf Lenwë) for many thousands of years. The Sindarin Elf Oropher, one of the Grey-elves, who was the grandfather of Legolas, established the Woodland Realm proper, and it become the primary settlement of the Elves from the Second Age onward. It was around this time that Men, possibly ancestors of the Northmen, began making permanent settlements in and around the forest. When Oropher was killed in the War of the Last Alliance, the kingship passed to his son Thranduil.

Light peering through the thick trees of Mirkwood

Mirkwood had been called Greenwood the Great until around the year TA 1050, when the shadow of the Dark Lord Sauron fell upon it, and men began to call it Mirkwood, or Taur-nu-Fuin and Taur-e-Ndaedelos in the Sindarin tongue. From then on, Mirkwood became a haunted place inhabited by many dark and savage things. Sauron, or the 'Necromancer' as he disguised himself, established himself at the hill-fortress of Dol Guldur, an old Elven fortress in the forest's southern region, and drove Thranduil and his people ever northward

During the Watchful Peace Dol Guldur was abandoned for a time and the Elves had respite, but after four hundred years Sauron returned to Dol Guldur and pressured the Elves once more. By the end of the Third Age they were a diminished and wary people, who had entrenched themselves north of the Mountains of Mirkwood. The Old Forest Road (also called the Dwarf Road or Men-i-Naugrim) crossed the forest east to west, but because it was so close to Dol Guldur the road was too dangerous to travel. The Elves then made a path farther to the north, the Forest Road, starting at the Forest Gate and ending somewhere in the marshes west of the Long Lake of Lake-town.

Quest of Erebor

Entrance to the Elvenking's Halls

Bilbo Baggins, along with Thorin Oakenshield and his band of Dwarves, ventured into Mirkwood during their quest to regain the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug, taking the elven path. There, the dwarf Bombur fell into the Enchanted river (causing him to fall asleep). Later, they came across many great Giant Spiders also known as the Spawn of Ungoliant. Shortly after the Dwarves' escape, they were captured by the elves. After or during these events the White Council attacked Dol Guldur, and Sauron fled to Mordor, his influence in Mirkwood diminished for a while, but Dol Guldur was soon re-occupied by three Nazgûl. Years later Gollum, after his release from Mordor, was captured by Aragorn and brought as prisoner to Thranduil's Halls. He escaped during an Orc raid, and fled south to Moria.

After Sauron was vanquished at the conclusion of the Third Age, the darkness was lifted from Mirkwood, Dol Guldur was utterly destroyed by Galadriel and Thranduil gave the forest the name Eryn Lasgalen (Sindarin for wood of green leaves), similar to its old name Eryn Galen, or Greenwood.

Portrayal in adaptations

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy

Mirkwood is featured in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

The Greenwood was a large woodland in Rhovanion. Along with the nearby woodland of Lorinand, It was first populated by Elves trying to get from Lake Cuivienen to the Far West. From then on out, the Elves called it Greenwood. Some of the Elves dreaded the crossing of the Misty Mountains west of Greenwood and stayed there, becoming the Silvan Elves, although some of them later did continue west, becoming the Green Elves of Beleriand.

It was later bisected by the Dwarf Road, constructed by Dwarves in an attempt to link their realm of Khazad Dum with their mansions in the Iron Hills. Later still it become the dwelling place of men (who in turn fled from the east where other Men were swayed by Sauron). Some of these Men would go on to migrate west into Beleriand, becoming the Men of the houses of Beor and Hador. Their kin that remained in Rhovanion became the Northmen, and those that remained specifically in Mirkwood were called the Woodsmen of Greenwood. The Skin-Changers were also descended from these.

The Woodland Realm

After the War of Wrath, Sindarin prince (and refugee of the woodland realm of Doriath) Oropher went to rule the Silvan Elves of Greenwood, just as the Noldorin Lord and Lady Celeborn and Galadriel (also refugees of Doriath) would rule Lorinand. Given the superiority of his bloodline, Oropher styled himself The Elvenking, and became the lord of the Woodland Realm.

He used the aid of the Dwarves to build an underground realm under the Mountains of Mirkwood to the North, where his stronghold was. His people built a new road, leading to their realm, called the Elf-path, with an Elven Gate at the forest's western border.

Oropher was slain in the battle of Dagorlad, and was suceeded by his son Thranduil. Married to the Elvenqueen, Thranduil would gradually retreat into the underground fortress, as the influence of Gondor reached the southern border of the woods, where they built a fortress on the hill of Amon Lanc. Around this time, the Woodsmen residing in that part of the forest cut much of its trees, creating its Eastern Bight.

At some point in the early Third Age, one of the wizards, Radagast the Brown, settled in Rhosgobel on the Southern borders of Mirkwood. Also residing on the borders of the Woodland (specifically, in the Gladden Fields) were Halflings, an offshoot of the Northmen, who would go on to migrate west and away from the shadow of Angmar. Some however remained behind and two of these, Déagol and Sméagol, would find The One Ring, lost to the Anduin nearby.

Thranduil's Woodland Realm did not interfere in the wars of Gondor and the Northmen with the Easterlings, but still maintained a friendship with the people of Dale, Esgaroth and Dorwinion (the latter two were involved in a trade route that supplied Thranduil's cellars with wine), as well as the Dwarves that would later settle Erebor. Thranduil sent the White Gems of Lasgalen in order to have them fashioned into a necklace for his wife, but she never got to wear them.

Thranduil became involved in the war with Angmar, launching at least one attack on its fortress of Gundabad.. He forfeited when his wife was captured and killed in Gundabad. He placed an statue in her likeness at the Elven Gate into the realm, and began retreating from the affairs of the outside world entirely.

In TA 2340, an Orc raid from Angmar resulted in the deaths of two of Thranduil's Silvan subjects and while he hunted the Orcs down and adopted the victims' surviving child, Tauriel, he would not participate in the battle of Fornost and the ultimate downfall of Angmar.

Shadow over Greenwood

In 2941, a shadow fell on Greenwood. Eminating from the abandoned fortress of Amon Lanc (since then renamed Dol Guldur), it resulted in the trees twisting, their sap made foul. Wild animals were dying and replaced by bats and Giant Spiders. Orcs and Goblins from the Misty Mountains, led by Azog and Bolg, secretly came into an alliance with the Necromancer in Dol Guldur, and the Nine entombed in the High Fells of Rhudaur were released and summoned to Dol Guldur. The stream coming down from the Mountains of Mirkwood became enchanted, as was the forest's air, and the Elven Road - while considered safe - fell into disuse, its bridge over the stream broken. The woodsmen living nearby came to call the forest Mirkwood.

Quest of Erebor

During Thorin Oakenshield's and Bilbo Baggins' journey, they and their company wished to enter Mirkwood as a shortcut to the Lonely Mountain. At the edge of the forest at the Elven gate, Gandalf was tasked by Galadriel to investigate the High Fells. Before he departed, Gandalf gave the Company one more piece of advisement: The first, he told them to be wary in the forest because the air was befowled with dark magic that would cause hallucinations. Next, he warned them of an stream that had been enchanted with a dark spell and to cross the bridge stone only. He last warned them to stay on the Elf-path, for if they strayed away from it, they would never find it again.

The company traveled through the forest and stayed on the path as Gandalf had told them. However, the forest soon began twisting their minds, and causing Thorin and Company to either hallucinate or feel weakened. They travelled for days until they come across the enchanted stream Gandalf told them of but found that the bridge had been destroyed. Kíli had found a way to cross by using the vines to get to the other side. Thorin sent Bilbo across first, but as the Hobbit crossed, Bilbo began feeling the river's enchantment pulling him. Quickly, he had made across but Bilbo, fearing for the others, yelled for them to stop but turned and found that the company was already crossing. Thorin reached the other side before the others. During this time, Thorin and Bilbo spotted a White Stag approaching them. Though Bilbo was amazed by the creature, Thorin immediately fired at the creature, but the stag disappeared. Meanwhile, Bombur had succumbed to the spells and had fallen asleep, forcing the other dwarves to fashion a stretcher and carry Bombur.

Thorin began succumbing to the polluted air of the forest and hurriedly led his company off the path. During the rest of their time in the dark forest, Nori had lost trace of the path the company had went on. Bilbo managed to snap out of the dark spell and told his companions they were lost but the Dwarves began to feel the foul air of the forest. Bilbo took it upon himself to find out where he and the company were at. When the company was distracted, Bilbo climbed up a tree while Thorin heard whispers Bilbo had warned him about earlier and told the company they were being watched. Meanwhile, when Bilbo reached the top, he saw they were almost to the Lonely Mountain. At the same time, Bilbo's dwarven friends were captured by gigantic spiders. When he shouted to the dwarves he knew they were in the right direction, Bilbo heard no response from them and saw something coming. Soon, Bilbo suffered the same fate as his companions and was captured by the other spiders.

However, Bilbo managed to free himself from his spider cocoon and killed his attacker with Sting. He soon rescued his companions when he saw one of the Spiders threatening to eat Bombur. While the dwarves escaped their captors, Bilbo was separated from the group, where he attacked a baby spider due to the Ring's influence. Soon, the Hobbit heard his company in distress. Legolas of the Woodland Realm cornered Thorin Oakenshield and Company, along with Tauriel and other Elves. After defeating the spiders, the company was captured for "snooping around" in the lost kingdom.

Thranduil had Thorin and his company locked up in the King's dungeons with the exception of Bilbo who managed to evade capture yet again and had been trailing the Elves. Thranduil attempted to reach an accord with Thorin but the dwarf refused because he would not give up Bilbo Baggins. Soon, Bilbo freed Thorin and their friends from their cells and the company escaped in barrels bound for Esgorath.

Battle of the Five Armies

News of Smaug's death reached Thranduil, who took his army from Mirkwood, and led them to the Lonely Mountain.

War of the Ring

Battle of Mirkwood

After the Battle of Dol Guldur, when Sauron was banished from Dol Guldur, the Woodland was largely cured from his influence, but Dol Guldur remained out of Thranduil's borders within the realm.

During the War of the Ring, Thranduil sent his son and several emissaries to Rivendell to participate in the Council of Elrond. In defending his realm against an invasion of Orcs from the Misty Mountains, Thranduil fended off much of Sauron's forces and therefore contributed to the victory over the Dark Lord.

Inner Mirkwood Palace.jpg
Inner Mirkwood Palace
Mirkwood Peek 01.png
Presumed appearance of Mirkwood
Mirkwood Peek 02.png
Entrance to the palace
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Mirkwood's interior
Mirkwood Peek 03.png
The forest

Video Games

Mirkwood is depicted in multiple video games, such as The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, The Hobbit (2003 video game), The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, The Lord of the Rings Online, and The Lord of the Rings: War in the North.

Notes

  • Despite being called Mirkwood ever since Third Age 1050, Mirkwood is referred to by Radagast and Gandalf in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as the Greenwood, with Gandalf mentioning to the White Council that the woodsmen there only recently started calling it Mirkwood because of the sickness that had fallen over it.
  • Mirkwood also appears in The Fall of Arthur, as well as in one of Eriol's poems as Myrcwudu (Old   English:  'Mirkwood'), which was an ancient Germanic legendary name for a great dark boundary-forest found in various different applications. Ælfwine's reference was to near the Eastern Alps, while the reference in the Fall of Arthur was somewhere east of the Rhine.
  • In Middle-earth, Mirkwood refers to two forests, one which was later renamed Taur-nu-Fuin of Beleriand, and the other west of the Lonely Mountain in Rhovanion.


Translations

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሚርክዎኦድ
Arabic ميركوود
Armenian Միրկւոոդ
Basque Oihan Beltza (Mirkwood)

Oihan Berde Handiak (Greenwood the Great)

Belarusian Cyrillic Ліхалессе
Bengali মির্ক্wওওদ
Bosnian Mrka Šuma
Bulgarian Cyrillic Мраколес (Mirkwood)

Зеленогор Велики (Greenwood the Great)

Catalan Bosc Llobregós (Mirkwood)

Gran Bosc Verd (Greenwood the Great)

Chinese (Hong Kong) 幽暗密林 (Mirkwood)

巨綠森 (Greenwood the Great)

Czech Temný hvozd (Mirkwood)

Velký zelený hvozd (Greenwood the Great)

Danish Dunkelskov
Dutch Demsterwold (Mirkwood) / Grote Groenewoud (Greenwood the Great)
Estonian Sünklaas (Mirkwood)

Suur Rohelaas (Greenwood the Great)

Finnish Synkmetsä (Mirkwood)

Suuri vihermetsä (Greenwood the Great)

French Forêt Noire/Forêt de Grand'Peur (Mirkwood)

Vertbois le Grand (Greenwood the Great)

Galician Bosque Escuro (Mirkwood)

Gran Bosque Verde (Greenwood the Great)

German Düsterwald (Mirkwood)

Große Grünwald (Greenwood the Great)

Georgian ბნელტევრი (Mirkwood)

დიდებული მწვანეტევრი (Greenwood the Great)

Greek Μίρκγουντ
Gujarati મિર્ક્વૉદ
Hebrew מירקווד/יעראופל
Hindi मिर्क्वोओद
Hungarian Bakacsinerdő
Italian Bosco Atro/Bosco tetro (Mirkwood)

Boscoverde il Grande (Greenwood the Great)

Japanese 闇の森 (Mirkwood)

緑森大森林 (Greenwood the Great)

Kannada ಮಿರ್ಕ್ವುಡ್
Kazakh Міркуоод (Cyrillic) Mirkwood (Latin)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Миркwоод
Macedonian Cyrillic Миркwоод
Marathi मिर्क्वोओद
Mongolian Cyrillic Миркүоод
Nepalese मिर्क्वोओद
Norwegian Mørkeskogen/Myrkskog (Mirkwood)

Store Grønnskogen (Greenwood the Great)

Pashto میرکووود ?
Persian میرک‌وود
Polish Mroczna Puszcza (Mirkwood)

Wielkim Zielonym Lasem (Greenwood the Great)

Portuguese Floresta das Trevas (Brazil)

Floresta Tenebrosa (Portugal)

Romanian Codrul Întunecat
Russian Лихолесье (Mirkwood)

Великим Зеленолесьем (Greenwood the Great)

Sanskrit मिर्क्वोओद्
Serbian Мирквоод (Cyrillic) Divim Mrkoj (Latin)
Slovak Temnohvozd
Slovenian Mrkolesje
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Bosque Negro (Mirkwood)

Gran Bosque Verde (Greenwood the Great)

Swedish Mörkmården

Mörkveden

Tamil மிர்க்௰ஓத் ?
Thai เมิร์ควู้ด (Mirkwood)

ป่าใหญ่กรีนวู้ด (Greenwood the Great)

Turkish Kuyutorman (Mirkwood)

Büyük Yeşil Orman (Greenwood the Great)

Ukrainian Cyrillic Мірквуда (Mirkwood)

Ерін Ласгален (Eryn Lasgalen)

Urdu مرکوود ?
Uzbek Миркwоод (Cyrillic) Mirkwood (Latin)
Yiddish מירקוואָאָד


References

  1. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Third Age, "Introduction"
  2. The Hobbit
  3. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Thematic Maps, "Landforms"
  4. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Regional Maps, "Eriador"
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