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.
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. This smaller river was enchanted (or polluted) to such an extent that it caused slumber and forgetfulness to anyone who fell into it.
Mirkwood's climate was relatively mild. Except for ways through the thickets of the forest, there were very few commonly used routes through Mirkwood save the Old Forest Road and the Forest Path. Mirkwood was approximately 600 miles long from north to south and 250 miles across from west to east at its width. During the events of The Hobbit it was home to giant spiders, and the kingdom of King Thranduil and his woodland elves; The Woodmen of Mirkwood also inhabited a small part of the forest.
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.
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 established himself at the hill-fortress of Dol Guldur, an old Elven fortress that Oropher had control of, on Amon Lanc within its 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 south of the Long Lake of Lake-town.
Quest of Erebor
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. 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 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.
- 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.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Basque||Oihan Beltza (Mirkwood)
Oihan Berde Handiak (Greenwood the Great)
|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)
|Dutch||Demsterwold (Mirkwood) / Grote Groenewoud (Greenwood the Great)|
Suur Rohelaas (Greenwood the Great)
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)
Große Grünwald (Greenwood the Great)
დიდებული მწვანეტევრი (Greenwood the Great)
|Italian||Bosco Atro/Bosco tetro (Mirkwood)
Boscoverde il Grande (Greenwood the Great)
緑森大森林 (Greenwood the Great)
|Kazakh||Міркуоод (Cyrillic) Mirkwood (Latin)|
Store Grønnskogen (Greenwood the Great)
|Polish||Mroczna Puszcza (Mirkwood)
Wielkim Zielonym Lasem (Greenwood the Great)
|Portuguese||Floresta das Trevas (Brazil)
Floresta Tenebrosa (Portugal)
Великим Зеленолесьем (Greenwood the Great)
|Serbian||Мирквоод (Cyrillic) Divim Mrkoj (Latin)|
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Bosque Negro (Mirkwood)
Gran Bosque Verde (Greenwood the Great)
ป่าใหญ่กรีนวู้ด (Greenwood the Great)
Büyük Yeşil Orman (Greenwood the Great)
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Мірквуда (Mirkwood)
Ерін Ласгален (Eryn Lasgalen)
|Uzbek||Миркwоод (Cyrillic) Mirkwood (Latin)|
|Amon Ereb • Brethil • Dor-lómin • Estolad • Ladros • Rhûn • Harad • Eriador|
|Arnor • Dunland • Gondor • Harad • Númenor • Rhûn • Umbar • Eriador|
|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 • Greenwood the Great • Eriador|
|Kingdom of Dale • Dunland • Harad • Núrn • Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor • Rohan • Rhûn • Eryn Lasgalen • Khand • Eriador • Rhovanion • Vales of Anduin|