Rivendell, also known as Imladris in Sindarin, was an Elven town and the house of Elrond located in Middle-earth. It is described as "The Last Homely House East of the Sea" in reference to Valinor, which was west of the Great Sea in Aman.
The peaceful, sheltered town of Rivendell was located at the edge of a narrow gorge of the river Bruinen, but well hidden in the moorlands and foothills of the Misty Mountains. One of the main approaches to Rivendell passed through the nearby Ford of Bruinen.
War of the Elves and Sauron
Rivendell was established by Elrond in the Second Age of Middle-earth in SA 1697. In the War of the Elves and Sauron, Eregion was laid waste and Elrond was sent from Lindon with a host of Elves to aid Eregion in resisting Sauron. However Elrond arrived too late and along with the refugees from Eregion was forced to retreat back to a valley which they made into a stronghold. This was the beginning of Rivendell. Sauron laid siege to it but with the arrival of the Númenóreans the besieging force was destroyed.
The Last Alliance
Following the establishment of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men the hosts of Gil-galad and Elendil marched to Imladris and made camp there to prepare their arms and then proceeded over the High Pass southeast to Dagorlad.
When Angmar rose to power in the fourteenth century of the Third Age, Rivendell was again besieged during the period TA 1356 to TA 1409. This siege was broken by reinforcements brought over the mountains from Lothlórien and Angmar was subdued for a time.
However in TA 1974 Arthedain fell to Angmar. Elrond then sent Glorfindel and a host of Elves to meet with the armies of Eärnil II and Círdan, defeating Angmar for good at the Battle of Fornost. After the fall of Angmar the heirs of Isildur were fostered in Rivendell.
Quest for Erebor
During the Quest of Erebor, Bilbo Baggins and the Company of Thorin stopped off at Rivendell. Bilbo described it as "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all." After the quest, Bilbo and Gandalf returned there and were greeted again by Elrond and the Elves.
War of the Ring
Years later, Frodo Baggins and his Hobbit companions journeyed to Rivendell, where they met with Bilbo, who had retired there after his eleventy-first birthday. Several other Elves, Dwarves and Men also arrived at Rivendell on separate errands; at the Council of Elrond they learned that the fates of all of their kind were related to that of the One Ring.
Elrond departed Rivendell in TA 3021, marking the end of the Third Age. Afterward, Rivendell was for a time the home of his sons Elladan and Elrohir and also of Celeborn. It is untold when Rivendell was finally abandoned.
In Imladris, there was a large hall with a dais and several tables for feasting. Another hall, the Hall of Fire, had a fire in it year-round with carven pillars on either side of the hearth; it was used for singing and storytelling on high days, but stood empty otherwise, and people would come there alone to think and ponder. The eastern side of the house had a porch at which Frodo Baggins found his friends once he had awakened, and was where the Council of Elrond was held.
Rivendell was protected from attack (mainly by the River Bruinen, Elrond, and Elven magic), but Elrond himself said that Rivendell was a place of peace and learning, not a stronghold of battle.
Many notable Elves lived in Rivendell:
- Elrond, Lord of Rivendell and the House of Elrond
- Celebrían, Lady of Rivendell and Elrond's wife
- Elladan, a son of Elrond. Stayed in Rivendell with Elrohir into the Fourth Age and (perhaps) beyond
- Elrohir, a son of Elrond. Stayed in Rivendell with his brother Elladan
- Arwen, daughter of Elrond, who stayed there throughout the War of the Ring
- Celeborn, who stayed there for a while in the Fourth Age before sailing West.
Imladris is a Sindarin term which means "deep valley of the cleft": from imlad ("glen, deep valley") and rist ("cleft") or riss ("ravine"). An alternative (or complementary) etymology gives Rivendell as the Anglicised version of the Westron name Karningul (itself a translation of Imladris).
Behind the scenes
The valley of Imladris (within which the town of Rivendell is situated) was based upon the landscape of Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. J.R.R. Tolkien was said to have journeyed to this region; his original painting of Rivendell is significantly similar to the Lauterbrunnen itself.
Portrayal in adaptations
Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit
In The Hobbit animated film created by Rankin/Bass, Rivendell is depicted as a large, triangular wooden house. Inside is shown a large dining hall and a back patio, when Thorin and Company come to visit and learn about the swords Orcrist and Glamdring and about Thrór's Map.
Rankin/Bass' The Return of the King
In The Return of the King animated film created by Rankin/Bass, Rivendell appears again in the beginning and end of the film, depicted similarly to that in the previous film. Inside is shown the great fireplace hall where Gandalf, Elrond, and the Hobbits celebrate Bilbo's birthday.
The Hobbit film trilogy
In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, on the Quest of Erebor, Gandalf intends to pass through Rivendell and ask Elrond for advice, particularly in deciphering Thrór's Map, and sends word to Elrond in advance. Thorin, having developed a hatred of all Elves following the Elven-king's betrayal, objects to this at least twice, but Gandalf uses the threat of a Warg attack to lead the company towards the Hidden Valley, where Elrond and a company of Riders intercept the Warg-riders.
With the Dwarves' suspicion and disrespect of the Elves, they nearly come to blows with Elrond's company, and later consume all the food in Rivendell's kitchens, bathe naked in their sacred fountains, steal some of Elrond's silverware (which then falls into the hands of the Goblins in Goblin-town) and use his furniture as fuel for campfires. Elrond, for his part, is hospitable but suspicious of the Dwarves' endeavour, as is Saruman who convenes the White Council in Rivendell in response to the Dwarves' quest. Bilbo, unlike the Dwarves, finds Rivendell so enchanting that he almost abandons the quest to remain, and later returns on his way back from the Quest, and again when he leaves the Shire following his 111th birthday.
Unknown to Elrond at the time, Sauron has secretly returned and seeks to destroy Rivendell (as well as Lórien) by re-establishing Angmar. In order to do so, he forges an alliance with Smaug, who will hold the Iron Hills Dwarves and the Men and Elves of Rhovanion at bay to secure Angmar's flank. This is thwarted by the Quest of Erebor, in which Smaug is slain, the subsequent Battle of Five Armies, in which the Orc armies meant to remake Angmar are decimated; and the attack of the White Council, in which Sauron and his Nazgûl are banished into the east.
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, years later, Frodo Baggins and his companions journey to Rivendell, where they meet Bilbo. Several other Elves, Dwarves, and Men are summoned to Rivendell; at the Council of Elrond they learn that all of their errands are related to the fate of the One Ring, and they have to decide what to do with it. In the end, the Hobbits influence the decision.
Following the destruction of the One Ring at the end of the Third Age, Elrond's ring loses its power, and Elrond, with many of his household, leaves Rivendell to sail for Valinor from the Grey Havens; this marks the start of the Fourth Age.
The Lord of the Rings Online
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Рывендэл (Rivendell)
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Ломидол (Rivendell)
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||瑞文戴爾|
|French||Fondcombe / Combe Fendue / Fendeval|
|Greek (Hellenic)||Σχιστό Λαγκάδι|
|Italian||Gran Burrone (in the first Italian translation of Lord of the Rings,the new Italian translation of the Hobbit ) / Forraspaccata (in the first Italian translation of the Hobbit) / Valforra (in the new Italian translation of Lord of the Rings)|
|Norwegian||Elverhøy (Werenskiold tr.)|
Kløvendal (Bugge Høverstad tr.)
|Spanish (Spain and Latin America)||Rivendel|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Рівенделл (Rivendell)
Forests & Mountains:
The rest of Arda:
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Second Age"
- The Hobbit, Chapter III: "A Short Rest"
- The Hobbit, Chapter XIX: "The Last Stage"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter I: "Many Meetings"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter II: "The Council of Elrond"
- Parma Eldalamberon, Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F