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Places in Middle-earth

Ephel Dúath

Type: Mountains, Hills, Promontories

Region: Mordor/Allies

Meaning: Fence of Shadow

Other Names Mountains of Shadow
(Note: the Ered Wethrin in Beleriand was also called the Mountains of Shadow)

Location: The north-south mountain range between Gondor and Mordor.

Description: Upon the west of Mordor marched the gloomy range of Ephel Dúath, the Mountains of Shadow, and upon the north the broken peaks and barren ridges of Ered Lithui, grey as ash. But as these ranges approached one another, being indeed but parts of one great wall about the mournful plains of Lithlad and of Gorgoroth ... they swung out long arms northward; and between these arms there was a deep defile. This was Cirith Gorgor, the Haunted Pass, the entrance to the land of the Enemy. High cliffs lowered upon either side, and thrust forward from its mouth were two sheer hills, black-boned and bare.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 3, The Black Gate Is Closed

And in the days of Telemnar, the third and twentieth of the line of Meneldil, a plague came upon dark winds out of the east, and it smote the King and his children, and many of the people of Gondor perished. Then the forts on the borders of Mordor were deserted, and Minas Ithil was emptied of its people; and evil entered again into the Black Land secretly, and the ashes of Gorgoroth were stirred as by a cold wind, for dark shapes gathered there. It is said that these were indeed the Úlairi, whom Sauron called the Nazgûl, the Nine Ringwraiths that had long remained hidden, but returned now to prepare the ways of their Master, for he had begun to grow again.

And in the days of Eärnil [II] they made their first stroke, and they came by night out of Mordor over the passes of the Mountains of Shadow, and took Minas Ithil for their abode; and they made it a place of such dread that none dared to look upon it. Thereafter it was called Minas Morgul, the Tower of Sorcery; and Minas Morgul was ever at war with Minas Anor in the west.

The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Etymology

gwalh, wath 'shadow' in Deldúwath, Ephel Dúath; also in Gwathló, the river Greyflood in Eriador. Related forms in Ered Wethrin, Thuringwethil. (This Sindarin word referred to dim light, not to the shadows of objects cast by light: these were called morchaint 'dark shapes'.)

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 24Jun04, 29Jun04, 5Dec04

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