- "See! The beacons of Gondor are alight, calling for aid. War is kindled. See, there is the fire on Amon Dîn, and flame on Eilenach; and there they go speeding west: Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and the Halifirien on the borders of Rohan."
- —Gandalf, in The Return of the King
The warning beacons of Gondor were an alarm system for the realm of Gondor in case of attack.
The beacons were great fireplaces permanently manned by men of Gondor, and were placed on seven foot-hills in the range of the White Mountains. From east to west they were the Amon Dîn, Eilenach, Nardol, Erelas, Min-Rimmon, Calenhad, and Amon Anwar (or Halifirien). Amon Dîn, Eilenach, and Min-Rimmon were the oldest of the beacons.
In the late Second Age and early Third Ages, they mainly served to warn southern Gondor of a danger for the northern province of Calenardhon, or vice versa, but after the Steward of Gondor Cirion granted Calenardhon to the Éothéod, they were used mainly to warn the people in Anórien of danger. Calls for aid between Gondor and Rohan were exchanged by a messenger carrying the Red Arrow instead.
Portrayal in the films
One of the major changes made to the story by Peter Jackson's film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is that when Gandalf and Pippin ride to Minas Tirith the beacons are not lit, since the despairing Denethor has decided not to send for help. In the movie there is a beacon just above the city, and to summon the Rohirrim, Gandalf asks Pippin to evade the guards and light it. Once he has done so, the film depicts the other beacons being lit one by one until the last is sighted by Aragorn who is in Edoras, and it is this (and not the Red Arrow, which is not mentioned in the film) which finally helps him to persuade Theoden to muster the Rohirrim to Gondor's aid.
In the film depiction, some viewers believed the number of beacons to be far greater than the seven described in the book. In actual fact, the film makers showed each beacon being lit from several angles, such that each close up is of the beacon shown as having been lit in the distance of the previous shot. If viewed in this way, one can count seven beacons, however the film still differs from Tolkien's writings as it depicts the first as directly above Minas Tirith instead of atop Amon Dîn as in the novel. The beacons are additionally situated much higher up in the movies, at altitudes that would make permanent manning impractical and generating sufficient flame very difficult. The last beacon, Halifirien is not in view of Edoras in the books.
|Warning beacons of Gondor|
|Amon Dîn | Eilenach | Nardol | Erelas | Min-Rimmon | Calenhad | Amon Anwar (Halifirien)|
- The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Five, Ch. I: "Minas Tirith"
- Unfinished Tales, Part Three: The Third Age, chapter II: "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"