Mirkwood was a great forest in Middle-earth 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.


Map of Mirkwood

Map of Mirkwood in Wilderland, from The Hobbit.

Mirkwood was a dense and heavy woodland that made up much of the eastern part 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. 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.[1]


Mirkwood 01

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, Mirkwood 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, so that by the end of the Third Age they were a diminished and wary people, who had entrenched themselves within the Mountains of Mirkwood. The Old Forest Road (also called the Old Dwarf Road) crossed the forest east to west, but because it was so close to Dol Guldur the road was mostly unusable. The elves then made a path farther to the north, which ended somewhere in the marshes south of the Long Lake of Esgaroth or Laketown.

Quest to Erebor


Light peering through the thick trees of Mirkwood

Desolation - Mirkwood

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. There, the dwarf Bombur fell into the Enchanted river. 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 reduced to a powerless spirit of malice at the conclusion of the Third Age, the darkness was lifted from Mirkwood, and it became known again by its old name of Eryn Lasgalen (Sindarin, wood of green leaves), or Greenwood.

Portrayal in adaptations

Gene Deitch's version

Mirkwood Forest
The forest of Mirkwood seen in the 1966 film[3]

Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film trilogy

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

Inner Mirkwood Palace
Inner Mirkwood Palace
Mirkwood Peek 01
Presumed appearance of Mirkwood
Mirkwood Peek 02
Entrance to the palace
Mirkwood Peek 04
Mirkwood's interior
Mirkwood Peek 03
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.

Translations around the World

Foreign Language Translated name
Portuguese (Brazil) Floresta das Trevas
Portuguese (Portugal) Floresta Tenebrosa
German Düsterwald
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Bosque Negro
Italian Bosco Atro
French Forêt Noire
Hungarian Bakacsinerdő
Chinese (Hong Kong) 幽暗密林
Dutch Demsterwold
Polish Mroczna Puszcza
Russian Лихолесье


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  1. 1.0 1.1 The Atlas of Middle-earth pp. 53, 76, 80, 180-89.
  2. The Hobbit

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