Welcome back to everyone’s favorite www.isleyunruh.com monday feature! Middle-earth being the place of enchantment and wonder that it is, each month I will use my love of fictional cartography to transport you to another time and place. So why not take a moment to fill you head full of knowledge that will have no bearing at all on the real world?
This month I’ll be looking at the ruined city of Fornost Erain.
At the time of The Lord of the Rings, Fornost (known as Norbury to the Hobbits) was a crumbling ruin of ill reputation frequented only by the Dúnadain rangers. As Elrond explained it at his council:
‘In the North after the war and the slaughter of the Gladden Fields the Men of Westernesse were diminished, and their city of Annúminas beside Lake Evendim fell into ruin; and the heirs of Valandil removed and dwelt at Fornost on the high North Downs, and that now too is desolate. Men call it Deadmen’s Dike, and they fear to tread there. For the folk of Arnor dwindled, and their foes devoured them, and their lordship passed, leaving only green mounds in the grassy hills.
The city of Fornost, Elvish for “north” (forn) “fortress” (ost), was built during the founding of the Northern realm of Arnor by Elendil at the end of the second age. It was a little over a hundred miles North of Bree, and was the northernmost point of the great “Royal Road” that started at Minas Tirith to the far South.
Fornost was not always the abode of the Kings of Arnor, as mentioned above, this honor initially lay with the city of Annúminas some 100 miles to the West until the time of the death of Eärendur, tenth king of Arnor in 861 T.A. Then, because of a dispute over the throne between Eärendur’s sons, the Northern realm was split into Arthedain (to the West), Cardolan (to the South) and Rhudaur (to the east). Eärendur’s eldest son (and thus the true heir), Amlaith, ruled the Western realm of Arthedain and moved his king seat to Fornost.
Thus it was that for over a thousand years Fornost was the dwelling of the true heirs to Elendil in Arthedain. During this time there were were many deeds great and bold, too many to list in one place, but I have taken the liberty to highlight a few (by year):
No more direct male line descendants of Isildur are left in ruling seats of Rhudaur or Cardolan thus king Argeleb I claims kingship over all the Northern Realm. Evil men from Rhudaur, in secret league with Angmar, reject his claim and Argeleb is slain in a battle over the ownership of the Palantir of Amon Sûl (Weathertop as it was known to the Hobbits).
The Witch-king of Angmar, seeking to capitalize upon the inner strife of the Dunedain, invades Arnor. King Arvaleg I is slain in battle. While Fornost managed to repel the Witch-king’s attack, the Tower of Amon Sûl was destroyed. Thus the Palantíri of Amon Sûl and Annúminas are moved to Fornost for safe keeping.
Hobbit brothers Marco and Cavallo journey to Fornost to obtain formal permission from king Argeleb II to cross the Brandywine River and found The Shire.
Fornost finally falls to the Witch King as Arthedain is over-run. King Arvedui escapes to the north with the Palantíri only to drown in the Bay of Forochel. The Palantíri of Annúminas and Amon Sûl are lost forever.
Eärnur, the last king of Gondor, brings a fleet to Lindon and manages to defeat the Witch-king at the Battle of Fornost.
With the north realm destroyed, Aranarth son of Arvedui gives up his kingship and takes refuge with Elrond at Imladris (Rivendell).
Thus, in the aftermath of the destruction of the North Kingdom, the once great city of Fornost was abandoned and slowly fell to ruin for the next thousand years. Who knows what wonders might have still lain forgotten in its abandoned halls at the end of the Third Age. If anyone knew what secrets and lore still lay within the crumbling ruins of Fornost Erain, it would have been Aragorn. Of course he had more pressing matters to attend to as the Third Age drew to a close!
That’s it for Middle Earth Monday this month! Join me the 4th Monday of next month as I take a look at The Withered Heath!