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Old 01-13-2010, 01:43 PM   #1
Galin
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Into Hithlum

Concerning the geography of the Firth of Drengist and the Gate of the Noldor:

Feanor burns the ships, and (according to Of The Return Of The Noldor, Silmarillion): '... went up the long Firth of Drengist that pierced the Echoing Hills of Ered Lómin, and passed thus from the shores into the great land of Hithlum;...' and in the next sentence, the Orcs 'came through the passes of Ered Wethrin'. I note this second part only because it is so close to the first, but I don't get the feeling that Feanor had to seek out any mountain passes here (in a land new to him).

In other words, even though we are admittedly dealing with highly compressed history here, there seems to be no suggestion that Feanor crossed any mountains, or considerable heights, but rather followed a natural gap that 'pierced' the Ered Lómin. Fingolfin appears to have taken this course as well, because Morgoth sends an army that attempts to enter Hithlum from the West '... and came down the coasts to the Firth of Drengist, by the route that Fingolfin followed from the Grinding Ice.' (also from Of The Return Of The Noldor, Silmarllion).

This would seem a natural entry into Hithlum from the Sea, for large enough numbers even, and both the maps for The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin appear to reflect this. Description in the Grey Annals is similiar enough to the Silmarillion (section 43): 'Drengist is a long firth which pierces the Echoing Hills of Eryd Lómin that are the west fence of the great country of Hithlum. Thus the host of Feanor passed from the shores into the inner regions of Hithlum...'

Tolkien's map (The War of the Jewels) is interesting here: there looks to be a gap in the mountains, but also the river from the mountains of Mithrim has a clear gap in its course, above which is written Annon Gelyð...

Quote:
C 4 The clearly marked gap in the stream flowing into the Firth of Drengist represents its passage underground; with the name Annon Gelyð cf. Annon-in-Gelydh (the Gate of the Noldor) in the later Tale of Tuor, Unfinished Tales p. 18. (...)

Christopher Tolkien, The War of the Jewels
In the later Fall of Gondolin (Unfinished Tales) Annael speaks of departing into the South, but Tuor wonders how they can do so and escape the net of their enemies. The answer is: the Gate of the Noldor, made in the days of Turgon. In the Quenta Silmarillion it is noted that thus Tuor's flight from Hithlum: '... was marked by neither Man nor Orc, and no knowledge of it ever came to the ears of Morgoth.' (as in Qenta Noldorinwa, in The Shaping of Middle-Earth). There is another passage in the later Fall of Gondolin however, in which Tuor sees the Echoing Mountains: '... that in those regions marched north and south, fencing off the far coastlands of the Western shores'

This latter description seems to say there is no obvious gap, although generally speaking these mountains were a fence from the West. Anyway, could we have a pass through the mountains large enough to allow for a considerable host to travel, without actually crossing mountains. And if secrecy is wanted, later Annon-in Gelydh is available, but which must be close enough to this gap, as the tunnel issued into Cirith Ninniach.

But I note Karen Wynn Fonstad's map (pages 8 and 14 in my edition of her Atlas of Middle-earth, revised edition): it looks to me as if there is no real gap in the Echoing Mountains, and the Firth of Drengist seems to turn into the river that flows within Cirith Ninniach -- which river disappears into a cliff face, emerging later at the Gate of the Noldor.

This appears to follow Tuor's journey well enough, but what about in earlier days, considering the passage of both Feanor and Fingolfin's host into Hithlum? Or maybe I just missed something


Last edited by Galin; 01-14-2010 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 01-13-2010, 02:00 PM   #2
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Interesting and something I've thought about at a times as well. The simplest solution perhaps is that the mountains are passable here, I don't think a gap per se, but a pass an army can march over with some effort. During Tuor's days that passage, the only Western escape-route out of Hithlum they knew of, would no doubt be well guarded by the forces of Morgoth though so the Gates of Noldor was his only chance to get out.
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Old 01-14-2010, 05:32 AM   #3
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We see Tuor climb out of the cleft with ease, when he recieves the warning against the coming flood. Thus it could be that once you had walked deep enough into the cleft the, even an army would be able to leave it. (Probably the north side was less step, but tuor could reach it, because he was from the start on south of the River.

Or I could imaging that Feanor and Fingolfin used the tunnel. But that the fortification with water covering the complete flour and the steps for easier travel were later build by Turgon.

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Old 01-14-2010, 07:10 AM   #4
Galin
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When Tuor first came out of the tunnel he was in a deep ravine with tall sheer sides. On the fourth day, moving West, the channel grew wider and its walls lower and less sheer, and there were 'high hills' on either side -- here he is able to climb out, but he does so on the South side I think, and he will ultimately travel South.

So I would say that anyone getting into the ravine going east (Feanor and Fingolfin would be travelling eastward of course), would soon enough find themselves in a deep ravine with sheer sides.

Anyway, I can see Tolkien glossing over that the Noldor crossed some mountains here, and perhaps this was the easiest point of passage, if still mountains; but I don't think the reader is supposed to think Feanor and Fingolfin both found and used some earlier version of the Gate.

To my mind surely this would be something notable! even for very compressed history. Two hosts decide to climb down into the cleft, and both used some early version of Annon-in-Gelydh? Hmm, for myself, I don't think Tolkien meant this.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:32 PM   #5
Galin
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I just ran across this: concerning Amon Darthir: '... over whose shoulder there was a steep pass. By this the hardy could cross Ered Wethrin and come down by the wells of Glithui into Beleriand' The Children of Húrin also notes:

'He trusted that Ered Wethrin was a wall insurmountable, both against escape from the north and against assault from the south; and there was indeed no other pass, for the unwinged, between Serech and far westward where Dor-lómin marched with Nevrast.' The Departure Of Túrin

This seems notable in any case, especially considering the first movements of the Noldor, and the movements of the Noldor into Beleriand.
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Old 01-21-2010, 12:58 PM   #6
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Yes, you are right, there seems to be a continuity-problem here. It is hard to believe that both Feanor's and Fingolfin's hosts spontaneously crawled through the underground tunnel.
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Old 01-22-2010, 04:43 AM   #7
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But Galin's quote does not apply to the Ered Lómin. It is a discription of the Ered Wethrin, the southern and western fence of Hithlum.

About the Ered Lómin quote to look at both from The Silmarillion.
First after the Dagor Aglareb:
"When nearly one hundred years had run since the Dagor Aglareb, Morgoth endeavoured to take Fingolfin at unawares (for he knew of the vigilance of Maedhros); and he sent forth an army into the white north, and they turned west and again south and came down the coasts to the Firth of Drengist, by the route that Fingolfin followed from the Grinding Ice. Thus they would enter into the realm of Hithlum from the west; but they were espied in time, and Fingon fell upon them among the hills at the head of the Firth, and most of the Orcs were driven into the sea. This was not reckoned among the great battles, for the Orcs were not in great number, and only a part of the people of Hithlum fought there."

Second from a few years after the Dagor Bargolach:
"Battle was joined upon the very plains of Hithlum, and Fingon was outnumbered; but timely help came from Círdan. His ships in great strength sailed into Drengist and there landed a force that came up in the hour of need upon the west flank of the enemy."

This shows clearly that the Ered Lómin was passable for troups. I think, both the Orcs and Círdans people used the pass or passes that Feanor and Fingolfin had used. And the first quote shows that these passed were at the head of the firth of Drengist.

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Old 01-22-2010, 11:55 AM   #8
Galin
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But does this not help raise the question of why Tuor used the Gate instead of the pass -- a pass of some kind that others appear to have used, or sought? Arguably one could use this pass, eventually climb into the ravine where it was less steep, and climb out again (now generally moving South) -- if dangerous, one would still be in the ravine as Tuor ended up in any case.

If the pass was well watched in Tuor's time, that could explain things, but at the moment I don't recall that being mentioned.

Last edited by Galin; 01-22-2010 at 03:30 PM.
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