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A war between Rohan and the Dunlendings occurred in the late Third Age, during Helm Hammerhand's reign.



After Gondor's former province of Calenardhon was awarded to Eorl the Young by Cirion for his services at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant, the Dunlendings, who had been infiltrating and settling the province from the west, were driven out by the Rohirrim. As a result the Dunlendings developed a deep hostility to the new arrivals for stealing 'their' lands. They frequently raided Rohan and were always a source of trouble to it. However, the Rohirrim and Dunlendings still had to live side by side with one another and apparently intermingled and intermarried and had peace for a time.

In the twenty-eighth century of the Third Age, a man known as Freca, said to have both Rohirrim and Dunlendish blood rose in power and wealth and lorded over the Dunlendings on both sides of the Adorn river. He peacefully cooperated with the Kings of Rohan and was supposed to obey the king's summons and attend his councils; however, in later years when he sought the throne of Rohan, he grew arrogant and only came when he felt like it.[1]


In TA 2754, Freca, drunken with pride and ambition he boldly rode into the King's house with a force of men for a meeting. Freca began making demands to King Helm that his son Wulf should be wedded to Helm's daughter which would no doubt give he and his family power. Helm refused and insulted him before his men. Humiliated, Freca flew into an angry rage nearly starting a fight in the hall. Helm finally met him face to face outside of Edoras in a field and after insulting him further struck him down with one blow from his fist, and he died soon afterwards. Still furious, Helm proclaimed all of Freca's heirs the enemy of Rohan.[1]

War and Siege

Four years later in TA 2758, the Dunlending led by Wulf came for their revenge at a time when Gondor could not help them. Rohan was invaded from the east and from Isengard with the Dunlendings reinforced by Corsairs of Umbar who sailed up the rivers Lefnui and Isen. The armies of Rohan were defeated. Edoras was conquered and Wulf sat in Meduseld calling himself King of Rohan. The Dunlendings were cruel, taking slaves and forcing the surviving Rohirrim to flee to the dales in the White Mountains. Helm fled to the Hornburg, taking great losses at the Fords of Isen but the worse was yet to come. A long and terrible winter fell upon the north of Middle-earth affecting both sides. Helm and his loyal remnant of Rohirrim endured a long siege throughout the winter, bringing terror to the besiegers, but in time he, his sons, and followers perished in the cold or in battle.

When the Long Winter was over Fréaláf Hildeson, Helm's nephew came down from Dunharrow with a small force and regained Meduseld, retaking Edoras. Wulf was slain and soon all the remaining enemy forces were driven out with the help of Gondor whose forces led by Beregond were now able to aid their ally.[1] Fréaláf then blockaded Isengard, forcing the Dunlendings in the fortress to eventually surrender.


Fréaláf Hildeson now became King of a second line of Kings in Rohan. Saruman also came to Rohan proclaiming friendship, wooing the new king with gifts, and praising their victory over their enemies and for many years appeared on the outside to be Rohan's friend, living peacefully in Isengard, granted to him by Gondor. Helm's body was brought from the Hornburg and buried in the ninth mound of the Kings of Rohan. Rohan was weakened for many years to come but so were the Dunlendings, who posed no threat during Rohan's sixty four year struggle with Orcs in the White Mountains. Years after, King Folcwine restored the realm to its former strength.[1]


The defeat of Dunlendings in the war left behind bitter memories in their people, who continued to hate Rohan and its rulers, still coveting the land that they failed to capture for themselves. Hundreds of years later when the fallen Wizard Saruman became powerful and hostile to Rohan, they joined with him and his allies to attack Rohan during the War of the Ring.


Foreign Language Translated name
Danish Krigen mellem Rohan og Dysterland


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A: Annals of the Kings and Rulers, II: The House of Eorl
  2. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Third Age, "Deepening Difficulties"