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Places in Middle-earth

Meneltarma, The

Type: Mountains, Hills, Promontories

Region: Numenor

Meaning: Pillar of Heaven

Other Names
The Holy Mountain
The Hallowed Mountain
The Pillar of the Heavens

Location: A tall mountain at the center of the island of Númenor, upon which was the Hallow of Eru; the source of the river Siril; its summit was thought to have become an island after the Downfall of Númenor.

Description: ... in the midst of the land was a mountain tall and steep, and it was named the Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven, and upon it was a high place that was hallowed to Eru Ilúvatar, and it was open and unroofed, and no other temple or fane was there in the land of the Númenóreans.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

Near to the centre of the Mittalmar stood the tall mountain called the Meneltarma, Pillar of the Heavens, sacred to the worship of Eru Ilúvatar. Though the lower slopes of the mountain were gentle and grass-covered, it grew ever steeper, and towards the summit it could not be scaled; but a winding spiral road was made upon it, beginning at its foot upon the south, and ending below the lip of the summit upon the north. For the summit was somewhat flattened and depressed, and could contain a great multitude; but it remained untouched by hands throughout the history of Númenor. No building, no raised altar, not even a pile of undressed stones, ever stood there; and no other likeness of a temple did the Númenóreans possess in all the days of their grace, until the coming of Sauron. There no tool or weapon had ever been borne....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, Description of the Island of Númenor

... in the spring of the year, when the time of the Erukyermë1 was come, [Aldarion and Erendis] ascended in the retinue of the King to the summit of the Meneltarma, which was the Hallowed Mountain of the Númenóreans. ... They did not speak, for no one, save only the King, spoke upon the height of Meneltarma....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 2, Aldarion and Erendis

... there none might speak any word, save the King only. Thrice only in each year the King spoke, offering prayer for the coming year at the Erukyermë in the first days of spring, praise of Eru Ilúvatar at the Erulaitalë2 in midsummer, and thanksgiving to him at the Eruhantalë3 at the end of autumn. At these times the King ascended the mountain on foot followed by a great concourse of the people, clad in white and garlanded, but silent. At other times the people were free to climb to the summit alone or in company, but it is said that the silence was so great that even a stranger ignorant of Númenor and all its history, if he were transported thither, would not have dared to speak aloud.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, Description of the Island of Númenor

No bird ever came there, save only eagles. If anyone approached the summit, at once three eagles would appear and alight upon three rocks near to the western edge; but at the times of the Three Prayers they did not descend, remaining in the sky and hovering above the people. They were called the Witnesses of Manwë, and they were believed to be sent by him from Aman to keep watch upon the Holy Mountain and upon all the land.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, Description of the Island of Númenor

The base of the Meneltarma sloped gently into the surrounding plain, but it extended, after the fashion of roots, five long low ridges outwards in the direction of the five promontories of the land; and these were called Tarmasundar, the Roots of the Pillar. Along the crest of the south-western ridge the climbing road approached the mountain; and between this ridge and that on the south-east the land went down into a shallow valley. That was named Noirinan, the Valley of the Tombs....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, Description of the Island of Númenor

Here [between the Hyarnustar and the Hyarrostar] flowed down Siril, the chief river of the land ... that rose in springs under the Meneltarma in the valley of Noirinan, and running through the Mittalmar southwards became in its lower course a slow and winding stream.

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 1, Description of the Island of Númenor

... in those days Valinor still remained in the world visible ... and at times, when all the air was clear and the sun was in the east, they would look out and descry far off in the west a city white-shining on a distant shore ... [It] was only the keenest eyes among them that could see this vision, from the Meneltarma, maybe, or from some tall ship that lay off their western coast ... But the wise among them knew that this distant land was not indeed the Blessed Realm of Valinor, but was Avallónë, the haven of the Eldar upon Eressëa, easternmost of the Undying Lands.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

Therefore Amandil withdrew to Rómenna ... for he feared that ... the Elf-friends were in peril. ... For the Meneltarma was utterly deserted in those days; and though not even Sauron dared to defile the high place, yet the King would let no man, upon pain of death, ascend to it, not even those of the Faithful who kept Ilúvatar in their hearts.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

When therefore the last portent came they heeded it little. For the land shook under them, and a groaning as of thunder underground was mingled with the roaring of the sea, and smoke issued from the peak of the Meneltarma. But all the more did Ar-Pharazôn press on with his armament.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

In an hour unlooked for by Men this doom befell, on the nine and thirtieth day since the passing of the fleets. Then suddenly fire burst from the Meneltarma, and there came a mighty wind and a tumult of the earth ... and Númenor went down into the sea.... And last of all the mounting wave, green and cold and plumed with foam, climbing over the land, took to its bosom Tar-Míriel the Queen.... Too late she strove to ascend the steep ways of the Meneltarma to the holy place; for the waters overtook her, and her cry was lost in the roaring of the wind.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth

Among the Exiles many believed that the summit of the Meneltarma ... was not drowned for ever, but rose again above the waves, a lonely island lost in the great waters; for it had been a hallowed place, and even in the days of Sauron none had defiled it.

The Silmarillion, Akallabêth


Notes

1 Erukyermë: 'Prayer to Eru,' the feast of the Spring in Númenor....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 2, Aldarion and Erendis: Notes, Note 16

2 Erulaitalë: 'Praise of Eru', the midsummer feast of Númenor.

Unfinished Tales, Index

3 Eruhantalë: 'Thanksgiving to Eru', the autumn feast in Númenor....

Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch 2, Aldarion and Erendis: Notes, Note 5


Etymology

menel 'the heavens' in Meneldil, Menelmacar, Meneltarma. ...

tar- 'high' (Quenya tara 'lofty'), prefix of the Quenya names of the Númenórean Kings; also in Annatar. Feminine tari 'she that is high, Queen' in Elentári, Kementári. Cf. tarma 'pillar' in Meneltarma.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Zimraphel. 6Jul03
Elena Tiriel 27Feb05, 5Mar05, 15Nov05

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