It was also known as Greenwood the Great, Eryn Galen, or Taur-e-Ndaedelos, and at a time was renamed Eryn Lasgalen, the Wood of Greenleaves.
Greenwoods was a dense and heavy woodland that made up much of the eastern portion of Rhovanion or 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.
Greenwoods climate was relatively mild. 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; the Woodmen of Mirkwood also inhabited a small part of the forest.
This forest existed since the earliest days of Arda. 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. 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, 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.
The Area 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, The southern part of 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 in the marshes west 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, 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 southwest 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. The southernmost portion of the forest became known as East Lórien for a time, while the central portion was given to the Woodmen.
Portrayal in adaptations
Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy
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 of Rhudaur. Before he departed, Gandalf gave the Company one more piece of advice: The first, he told them to be wary in the forest because the air was befouled with dark magic that would cause hallucinations. Next, he warned them of a stream that had been enchanted with a dark spell and to cross by the bridge 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 traveled 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. He was able to quickly complete his passage, but fearing for the others, yelled for them to stop, only to find 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 and into the water, forcing the other Dwarves to fashion a stretcher and carry him.
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. They began quarreling and even fighting amongst themselves. As they argued, Bilbo took notice of extensive webbing around them. Bilbo then 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. Slipping he ring he’d found onto his finger, he became invisible to the monsters and found he could understand them as they spoke. He managed to kill one of his captors with Sting and cut his companions loose 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 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 his companions from their cells and the company escaped in barrels bound for Lake-town.
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 in the First Age; Dorthonion, later called Taur-nu-Fuin of Beleriand, and the other in the Third Age 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 • Eriador • Estolad • Ladros|
|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|