Welcome back to everyone’s favorite www.isleyunruh.com Monday feature! Middle-earth being the land 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 your head full of knowledge that will have no bearing at all on the real world?
This month I discuss the dwarven guardhouse on the southern arm of the Lonely Mountain:
After that they went on again; and now the road struck westwards and left the river, and the great shoulder of the south-pointing mountain-spur drew ever nearer. At length they reached the hill path. It scrambled steeply up, and they plodded slowly one behind the other, till at last in the late afternoon they came to the top of the ridge and saw the wintry sun going downwards to the West.
Here they found a flat place without a wall on three sides, but backed to the North by a rocky face in which there was an opening like a door. From that door there was a wide view East and South and West.
“Here,” said Balin, “in the old days we used always to keep watchmen, and that door behind leads into a rock-hewn chamber that was made here as a guardroom. There were several places like it round the Mountain. But there seemed small need for watching in the days of our prosperity, and the guards were made over comfortable, perhaps — otherwise we might have had longer warnings of the coming of the dragon, and things might have been different. Still, “here we can now lie hid and sheltered for a while, and can see much without being seen.”
Erebor, or, as it was more commonly known, The Lonely Mountain, was a solitary star-shaped peak in the northeastern Rhovanion. Its peak sloped down into six long arms, and the southernmost of these ended in the steep hill known as Ravenhill. So named for the race of super-intelligent talking ravens who made their home in the rookery at its top, Ravenhill was also the site of a guard tower and lookout post which could not only see all of the Valley of Dale, but also all of the lands to the south and west of the mountain too.
Ravenhill was about a league away from the front gate of Erebor, the same gate from whence the River Running flowed. A road led from the look out post to the front gate itself, but the desolation of the dragon Smaug had long since destroyed the bridge over the River Running. The guard post upon its heights was a cunningly wrought fort of dwarven stonework, hewn into the living rock itself. Inside was room for over a hundred, with a further chamber for living quarters as the guards were switched out. So strong was the fort that even the wrath of Smaug had been unable to shatter its walls during the destruction of Dale.
It was from Ravenhill that Gandalf and Thranduil, king of the elves fought the goblin hordes during the battle of five armies. And it was from Ravenhill that a small contingent of men and dwarves held out, separated from the rest of their fellows under seige at the front gate. For, the old that is strong does not wither, and the guard house upon Ravenhill was both old and strong, and was not easily breached.