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Places in Middle-earth

North Road of Ithilien, The

Type: Roads, Lanes, Ways

Region: Gondor

Other Names
The Great North Road
The Southward Road

Location: The ancient north-south road running through Ithilien between the Anduin and the Ephel Dúath, from the Morannon to the Crossings of Poros, where it meets the Harad Road; probably built in the late Second Age, much of it had fallen into disrepair by the end of the Third Age.

Description:
Table of Contents:

Description
History

Description

[Early Third Age:]
... at this period the Morannon was still in the control of Gondor, and the two Watchtowers ... were still manned. The road through Ithilien was still in full repair as far as the Morannon; and there it met a road going north towards the Dagorlad, and another going east along the line of Ered Lithui.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 15

[End of the Third Age:]
The road had been made in a long lost time: and for perhaps thirty miles below the Morannon it had been newly repaired, but as it went south the wild encroached upon it. The handiwork of Men of old could still be seen in its straight sure flight and level course: now and again it cut its way through hillside slopes, or leaped over a stream upon a wide shapely arch of enduring masonry; but at last all signs of stonework faded, save for a broken pillar here and there, peering out of bushes at the side, or old paving-stones still lurking amid weeds and moss. Heather and trees and bracken scrambled down and overhung the banks, or sprawled out over the surface. It dwindled at last to a country cart-road little used; but it did not wind: it held on its own sure course and guided them by the swiftest way.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 4, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

It was some hundred miles ... from the Cross-roads to the Morannon....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

[Said Faramir,] 'We of Gondor do not ever pass east of the Road in these days, and none of us younger men has ever done so, nor has any of us set foot upon the Mountains of Shadow.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 6, The Forbidden Pool


History

[About 10-11 July 1944 III, Battle against the Haradrim at Poros:]
But Eärnil, Captain of the Southern Army, won a great victory in South Ithilien and destroyed the army of Harad that had crossed the River Poros.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

[About 12-13 July 1944, the rear guard of the retreat from the Battle against the Wainriders at the Morannon:]
Minohtar had withdrawn his line to the head of the great North Road of Ithilien, half a mile beyond the point where it turned east to the Watch-towers of the Morannon. ...

The Wainriders came on in little order, still exultant and singing songs of victory, seeing as yet no signs of any defenders to oppose them, until they found that the road into Gondor turned south into a narrow land of trees under the shadow of the dark Ephel Dúath, where an army could march, or ride, in good order only down a great highway. Before them it ran on through a deep cutting...

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: The Northmen and the Wainriders

[About 20-21 July 1944, the Battle of the Camp:]
Hastening north, [Eärnil] gathered to him all that he could of the retreating Northern Army and came up against the main camp of the Wainriders, while they were feasting and revelling, believing that Gondor was overthrown and that nothing remained but to take the spoil. Eärnil stormed the camp and set fire to the wains, and drove the enemy in a great rout out of Ithilien. A great part of those who fled before him perished in the Dead Marshes.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion

[2885, the Invasion of Ithilien by Haradrim:]
When Ithilien was invaded in great strength, King Folcwine of Rohan ... [sent] many men to Gondor. With their aid Túrin won a victory at the crossings of the Poros; but the sons of Folcwine both fell in the battle.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion: The Stewards

[5-7 March 3019, Frodo and Sam journey from the Black Gate to Ithilien:]
The dusk was deep when at length they set out ... A single red light burned high up in the Towers of the Teeth, but otherwise no sign could be seen or heard of the sleepless watch on the Morannon.

For many miles the red eye seemed to stare at them as they fled.... They did not dare to take the road, but they kept it on their left, following its line as well as they could at a little distance. At last, ... the eye dwindled to a small fiery point and then vanished: they had turned the dark northern shoulder of the lower mountains and were heading southwards.

With hearts strangely lightened they now rested again, but not for long. They were not going quick enough for Gollum. By his reckoning it was nearly thirty leagues * from the Morannon to the cross-roads above Osgiliath, and he hoped to cover that distance in four journeys. So soon they struggled on once more ...

... they could see the southward road, now bearing away from the black roots of the hills and slanting westwards. ...

In a little while Gollum led them down on to the southward road; and after that they went on more quickly, though the danger was greater. ...

So they passed into the northern marches of that land that Men once called Ithilien ... At the first signs of day they halted again. They had come to the end of a long cutting, deep, and sheer-sided in the middle, by which the road clove its way through a stony ridge. Now they climbed up the westward bank and looked abroad.

[* A league is approximately three miles.]

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 4, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

[7 Mar 3019, Faramir's Rangers ambush Haradrim:]
'It is close on ten leagues hence to the east-shore of Anduin,' said Mablung, 'and we seldom come so far afield. But we have a new errand on this journey: we come to ambush the Men of Harad. Curse them!'

'Aye, curse the Southrons!' said Damrod. ... 'Now of late we have learned that the Enemy has been among them, and they are gone over to Him, or back to Him' ...

[Said Mablung,] 'These cursed Southrons come now marching up the ancient roads to swell the hosts of the Dark Tower. Yea, up the very roads that craft of Gondor made. And they go ever more heedlessly, we learn, thinking that the power of their new master is great enough, so that the mere shadow of His hills will protect them. We come to teach them another lesson. Great strength of them was reported to us some days ago, marching north. One of their regiments is due by our reckoning to pass by, some time ere noon -- up on the road above, where it passes through the cloven way. The road may pass, but they shall not! Not while Faramir is Captain.' ...

The guards stood alert and tense in the shadow of the trees. Suddenly the horns rang out louder and beyond mistake from above, over the top of the slope. Sam ... could hear plainly the ringing grate of steel on steel ... men were yelling and screaming, and one clear loud voice was calling Gondor! Gondor! ...

'They are coming!' cried Damrod. 'See! Some of the Southrons have broken from the trap and are flying from the road. There they go! Our men after them, and the Captain leading.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 4, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit

[9 March 3019, Frodo and Sam reach the Morgul-road:]
Presently, not far ahead, looming up like a black wall, they saw a belt of trees. As they drew nearer they became aware that these were of vast size, very ancient it seemed, and still towering high....

'The Cross-roads, yes,' whispered Gollum.... 'We must go that way.' Turning eastward now, he led them up the slope; and then suddenly there it was before them: the Southward Road, winding its way about the outer feet of the mountains, until presently it plunged into the great ring of trees. ...

... they crept down on to the road, and stole along its westward edge under the stony bank ... At length they reached the trees, and found that they stood in a great roofless ring, open in the middle to the sombre sky.... In the very centre four ways met. Behind them lay the road to the Morannon; before them it ran out again upon its long journey south; to their right the road from old Osgiliath came climbing up, and crossing, passed out eastward into darkness: the fourth way, the road they were to take.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 4, Ch 7, Journey to the Cross-roads

[20-23 March 3019, the Host of the West marches from the Cross-roads to the Morannon:]
The day after, being the third day since they set out from Minas Tirith, the army began its northward march along the road. ... They went openly but heedfully, with mounted scouts before them on the road, and others on foot upon either side, especially on the eastward flank; for there lay dark thickets, and a tumbled land of rocky ghylls and crags ...

... the hearts of all the army ... were downcast, and with every mile that they went north foreboding of evil grew heavier on them. It was near the end of the second day of their march from the Cross-roads that they first met any offer of battle. For a strong force of Orcs and Easterlings attempted to take their leading companies in an ambush.... But the Captains of the West were well warned by their scouts ... and so the ambush was itself trapped. ...

And from that evening onward the Nazgûl came and followed every move of the army.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 10, The Black Gate Opens

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 19Jul04, 30Sep04

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