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Eriador political 250.jpg
Arnor, T.A. 250‎ (Lindëfirion)
Eriador political 861.jpg
Arnor, T.A. 861‎ (Lindëfirion)
Other names Kingdom of the North,
The Lost Realm,
The North-kingdom,
The North-realm,
The Northern Kingdom
Type Kingdom
Location Eriador
Realm Arnor; Reunited Kingdom (after T.A. 3019)
Capital Annúminas
Founded S.A. 3320
Ruler Kings of Arnor
Summary One of the Númenórean Realms-in-exile
Inhabitants Men: Dúnedain of the North (Faithful), Arnorians, Eriadorians
Language(s) Westron; Sindarin
Lifespan dissolved T.A. 861; restored T.A. 3019
"Sheep were bleating in flocks. Green walls and white walls rose. There were fortresses on the heights. Kings of little kingdoms fought together and the young Sun shone like fire on the red metal of their new and greedy swords. There was victory and defeat and towers fell, fortresses were burned and flames went up into the sky."
-Tom Bombadil: Tales from The Red Book of Westmarch

Arnor (S. "Royal-land", "Land [of the] King"), or the Northern Kingdom, was a kingdom of the Dúnedain in the land of Eriador in Middle-earth. It was the original seat of the High King of Arnor who ruled over both Arnor and Gondor.

Other names

  • Arthor na Forlonnas
  • Follondië
  • Forlonnas
  • Turmen Follondiéva


Early history

Arnor was founded at the end of the Second Age (S.A. 3320) by Elendil the Tall, whose sons founded Gondor at the same time. The history of the two kingdoms is intertwined; both kingdoms are known as the Realms of the Dúnedain in exile.

Before the foundation of Arnor there was already a sizable Númenórean population living in Eriador, a result of the slow emigration of Númenóreans which had started under Tar-Meneldur and Tar-Aldarion. The region was home to Middle Men of Adan stock, and the early colonists soon interbred with the indigenous population. Elendil and his people were aided by High King of the Noldor Gil-galad and his people, and his ships sailed up the Lune river. He established the city of Annúminas as his capital. Arnor was originally favored over the more southern regions (Gondor) because the Elves under Gil-galad lived near it across the river Lhûn. However, in later days after the Númenóreans fell under Sauron's shadow, they settled more to the south. This led to a situation where Elendil arrived in an area populated by people who, like his own Númenóreans, were mainly still friends with the Elves, and unlike Gondor to the south, in Arnor much knowledge of the Elder Days was preserved.

The Palantíri

Main article: Palantíri

The Palantíri or 'seeing stones' were spherical stones that could communicate with each other and give visual impressions to a skilled remote user. These stones, salvaged from Númenor, were divided originally between Elendil and his two sons. They were usually heavily guarded and under the control of the kings. There were seven of these stones in total, with three of them assigned to the Northern Kingdom, and the other four going to Gondor. They were:

  • the Elostirion-stone, in the tower of Elostirion, and was used to communicate with the master stone in Tol Eressëa of the Elves, along the Straight Road. It could not contact the other Middle-earth stones.
  • the Amon Sûl-stone, in the watchtower of Amon Sûl. A large stone, it was often used to contact its corresponding large stone in Gondor, at the great dome in Osgiliath.
  • the Annúminas-stone, in the capital city of Annúminas. Though one of the lesser stones, it was the stone most often used by the Kings of Arnor.

War of the Last Alliance

Main article: Last Alliance and War of the Last Alliance

At the end of the Second Age, Arnor allied itself with Noldorin High King Gil-galad of Lindon in a great alliance opposing Sauron, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men. In conjunction with southern forces from Gondor, they confronted Sauron's armies in the War of the Last Alliance. This war was fought over a period of several years on the Dagorlad plain and in Mordor itself, at the Siege of Barad-dûr. Both Elendil and his son Anárion were slain in this conflict, but Isildur cut the One Ring from Sauron's finger and prevailed. Elrond, Gil-galad's herald, urged Isildur to cast the Ring into Mount Doom and destroy it, but Isildur refused, and the Ring survived. Arnor suffered heavy casualties in the war, and some parts of the land were partially depopulated.

Arnor's second king Isildur (also King of Gondor) was killed in T.A. 2 by Orcs in the Disaster of the Gladden Fields. His three eldest sons were killed with him, but the fourth and youngest, Valandil, who had remained at Rivendell due to his youth, became king of Arnor. Isildur also lost the One Ring at this time, when it slipped off his finger as he tried to escape pursuing Orcs. Arnor never fully recovered from this devastating loss of its manpower.

Because Valandil and his heirs did not claim the throne of Gondor, the realms were split, but Arnor's ruler kept the title High King, whereas in the south the ruler was 'just' King.

Decline and breakup

Main articles: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur.

Arnor's capital was Annúminas on Lake Evendim, but by T.A. 861 Fornost Erain had become the capital instead as Annúminas became depopulated and was slowly abandoned. After the death of its tenth king, Eärendur, in T.A. 861, Arnor was shaken by conflict between the three sons of Eärendur. The eldest son, Amlaith, claimed Kingship over all Arnor but was reduced to only ruling the region of Arthedain as his kingdom, while the other sons founded the breakaway kingdoms of Cardolan and Rhudaur. Arnor was refounded de jure by Arthedain's king Argeleb I, when Cardolan placed itself under the suzerainty of Arthedain. However, even Arthedain was eventually destroyed. The people of Arnor were mostly wiped out by the continuing wars, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire, Men survived in Bree and probably other villages, and the Dúnedain of Arnor created new homes in the Angle south of Rivendell, where some of them became known as the Rangers of the North.

Conflict with Angmar

Main article: Great Northern Wars

Arnor's greatest enemy in the north by the middle of the Third Age was Angmar, ruled by the Witch-king of Angmar. During the reign of Malvegil (c. T.A. 1300), this new power arose beyond the Ettenmoors. This land became populated with the Orcs and men of Sauron, and began attacking Rhudaur and Cardolan. Eventually this Witch-king was identified as in fact the chief of Sauron's Ringwraiths. Years later, Argeleb I of Arthedain reasserted control over Cardolan, and fortified a line along the Weather Hills. Despite this action, Argeleb fell in battle with Angmar and its ally, Rhudaur. His son Arveleg I, however, counterattacked in conjunction with Cardolan and drove the enemy back. He held this frontier in force for quite some years successfully. Then in T.A. 1409, Angmar crossed the Hoarwell river into Cardolan and attacked again. This time, Weathertop was captured and Arveleg fell in battle. While Amon Sûl fell, the palantír was recovered and taken to Fornost. While Cardolan was laid waste, Angmar was eventually stopped by Elven forces from Lindon and Rivendell, where Elrond countered them.

The Great Plague

Main article: Great Plague

Another threat appeared to the northern successor kingdoms, this time one that swords and spears could not deter. A major plague began in the east, in the vicinity of the Sea of Rhûn, northeast of Mordor. After doing great damage in Rhovanion, it struck Osgiliath in Gondor in T.A. 1636, killing King Telemnar and his family. In seriously affected areas, the plague killed 50% or more of the populace. This plague, which barely affected western Gondor, spread northwards to Cardolan.

In Cardolan, it struck severely, wiping out the last of Dúnedain of Cardolan at the Barrow-downs. The Witch-king, exploiting the tragedy, sent evil spirits, the Barrow-wights, to infest the area. The Hobbits of the Shire were damaged by it, but not heavily. The plague lost its strength, however, at this point, so that most of Arthedain was unaffected.

The fall of Arthedain

In T.A. 1974, the final chapter in Arthedain's history began. The Witch-king attacked during the harsh winter weather. The capital of Fornost fell, and the remaining Arnorian forces were driven over the Lune river into Lindon. King Arvedui was compelled to flee to Forochel, and ask aid of the Snowmen there. His son, Aranarth, journeyed to Círdan at the Havens to inform him of Arthedain's fall. Círdan responded by sending a ship north to rescue Arvedui. When the Snowmen of Forochel saw the ship arrive, they were uncomfortable and nervous about the escape plan. Their chief replied to Arvedui:

"Do not mount on this sea-monster! If they have them, let the seamen bring us food and other things that we need, and you may stay here till the Witch-king goes home. For in summer his power wanes; but now his breath is deadly, and his cold arm is long."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1018

It turned out that the Snowmen were right. A storm blew in that night and drove the ice towards the shore, and the ship was crushed and sank, with great loss of life, including King Arvedui. He unfortunately fulfilled Malbeth the Seer's prophecy about him at his birth that he would be the 'Last king' of Arthedain. So the North-kingdom ended, but the Hobbits survived in the Shire. They eventually chose a Thain from among themselves to replace the King, and the first of these was Bucca of the Marish, in T.A. 1979.

Showdown with Angmar

Envoys from Arthedain had journeyed to Gondor to ask assistance from the southern Dúnedain in fighting the Witch-king's forces. Gondor, however, was preoccupied with its own threats from the Easterlings, and so could not respond immediately. Gondor had been in a weakened condition since the death of King Ondoher and his two sons in the Battle of the Camp fighting the Easterlings in T.A. 1944. Arvedui of Arnor tried to claim the southern throne but this claim was rejected by Gondor. Eärnil, the victorious commander in the above battle and a member of the royal house, claimed the throne, and was confirmed by the Gondorian royal council.

King Arvedui sent increasingly urgent messages to Gondor about the crisis he faced from Angmar's continuing assaults. Eärnil II was unable to react quickly due to his need to order Gondor after succeeding to the throne, however. The king sent his son and heir Eärnur north to the Havens with a powerful fleet. Unfortunately, it was not in time to save Arthedain, and the northern kingdom perished. When Eärnur's naval forces landed in the Grey Havens, they dazzled both Men and Elves with their size and majesty. From these ships debarked the most powerful army seen in the north of Middle-earth in centuries. Círdan's people were quite impressed with the strength of Gondor's army, particularly its cavalry forces, dominated by riders from the Vales of Anduin. Círdan and Eärnur combined their forces, along with the remnant of Arnor's army, in the greatest joint Elf-Man army since the War of the Last Alliance; this great Host of the West re-crossed the River Lune and marched northward. These allies drove relentlessly toward the Arnorian capital of Fornost, where the Witch-king had occupied the palace complex there.

Angmar is vanquished

When the Witch-king saw the invading Host, he failed to take it for the serious threat that it in fact was. Instead of awaiting the invaders in the fortress city of Fornost, he confidently marched his forces out to meet them in the open. He expected to defeat them as easily as Arvedui's forces the previous year. But there was an appreciable difference this time—the ground and naval might of Gondor. The allied Host continued to advance, and instead of establishing a merely defensive position, they attacked him from the Hills of Evendim, and a large battle broke out. The Witch-king's army could not stand before the allies, however, and began to retreat back towards their capital. Any hopes for an orderly withdrawl were in vain, however.

Gondorian cavalry forces, attacking from the north, routed the forces of Angmar, and put them to flight signaling an end to what became known as the Battle of Fornost. The Witch-king, in full flight, forsook his new conquests, and made for Angmar. But the cavalry under Eärnur continued the pursuit and rode down what remained of his forces. To add to his difficulties, an Elven force under Glorfindel also attacked from Rivendell, and completed his forces' destruction. At the last, the Witch-king charged Eärnur in frustration, but his horse shied away from the evil wraith. As Eärnur once again mastered his horse, Glorfindel uttered his famous prophecy:

"Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the hand of man will he fall."
The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, p. 1027.

This prophecy would not be fulfilled until a thousand years later, at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Chieftains of the Dúnedain

Main article: Chieftains of the Dúnedain

After the death of King Arvedui, his son, Aranarth, perceived that the northern Dúnedain had become too few to reestablish the realm of Arthedain. He took his dwindling people and turned them into wanderers who traveled from place to place in Eriador. Instead of calling himself a king or prince, he assumed the title Chieftain. Through them the royal line of Arnor was maintained successfully for a thousand years until the refounding of Arnor in Fo.A. 1. Aranarth brought his son Arahael to Rivendell and gave him to Elrond for safekeeping until he was grown. This became a tradition that was followed through the rest of the Third Age. Also brought to Elrond were the heirlooms of the House of Elendil: the Sceptre of Annúminas, the Ring of Barahir, the shards of Narsil, and the Star of Elendil.

So the Dúnedain survived in the shadows, waiting for a better day when the kingdom of Arnor would be reborn. There were sixteen Chieftains in direct descent, with Aragorn Elessar being the last. There were many perils in Eriador in that time, and many of the Chieftains died premature deaths. One of these was Aragorn II's father, Arathorn II, who was slain by Orcs raiding the area.

War of the Ring

Main article: War of the Ring

The Kingdom of Arnor had been fallen for a thousand years by the time the War of the Ring broke out, but northern forces did participate in the War. Aragorn II was a Dúnedain Ranger of the North, and there were several hundred of them operating during the conflict. A company of this group accompanied Aragorn through the Paths of the Dead and during the attack on Umbar which captured the Corsair fleet. They participated at the last battle, fighting under his banner, at the Battle of the Morannon, where Sauron was finally thrown down.

There was conflict in other areas of the North. There were three different invasions of Lothlórien, which were thrown back by the Elven army under Celeborn and Thranduil. Finally, Celeborn led an attack resulting in the capture of Dol Guldur and put an end to Sauron's northern threat.

There was also a battle fought in the Shire, between Saruman's Ruffians and Hobbit militia forces. This was the last battle fought in the War of the Ring, and resulted in the death of Saruman and the death or capture of his followers. This became known as the Battle of Bywater, and represents the Hobbit contribution to the War.

Restoration and the Reunited Kingdom

Main article: Reunited Kingdom

Faramir, son of Denethor II the last Ruling Steward, presented his rod of office to the new king, and received it back from him. Aragorn II then was crowned by Gandalf as King Elessar, refounded the Kingdom of Arnor as part of the Reunited Kingdom, and made Annúminas his new capital city. He was wed to the Elven lady Arwen Undómiel, who became Queen Evenstar of Arnor and Gondor. After the fall of Sauron Arnor was safe again for resettlement of Men, and although it remained less populated than Gondor to the south, in time Arnor became a more densely populated region again, even if it had dwindled in size due to the independence of the Shire. The area encompassed by the Reunited Kingdom now encompassed the territory of the Two Kingdoms at their greatest extent. In the North, this included all the land between the River Lune and the Misty Mountains, and in the South included all the land between Dunland in the west, to the Far Harad southwards, to Rhûn in the east. The reborn kingdom continued on into the Fourth Age, with Eldarion eventually succeeding his father to the throne of this now empire-sized state.

Regions, Rivers, and Lakes

Angmar Arthedain Baranduin Cardolan Corréna Emyn Beraid Ethir Baranduin Everlasting Plain Feotar Gwathló Lhûn Mitheithel Nan Turnath Nenuial Northern March Pinnath Ceren Red Hundred Rhudaur Royal Domain Siragale Tyrn Gorthad

Divisions of Arnor

Places of note

Settlements of Arnor

Amon Losthoron Amon Sûl Andrath Annúminas Balost Bar-i-Dagorath Barad Eldanar Cameth Brin Caras Celairnen Combe Dispar Dol Caladir Dol Coldirith Dol Hithaer Dol Tinare Elostirion Fornost Erain Foros Gersebroc Herubar Gûlar Iant Methed Metraith Minas Thonfalon Mount Gram Nothva Rhaglaw Nuindhae in-Ered Palace of Thalion Rood Sarn Castle Sarn Ford Silent Head Staddle Stock Talugdaeri Tanoth Brin Taurdal Tharbad

Cities, fortresses, and watchtowers

  • Annúminas, the old capital on the shore of Lake Evendim
  • Fornost, the new capital of the successor state of Arthedain
  • Bree, a trading center located on the Great East Road
  • Lond Daer, an old harbor town founded by Númenóreans
  • Amon Sûl, also called Weathertop, a watchtower on the highest of the Weather Hills
  • Elostirion, a watchtower in the Tower Hills
  • Tharbad, a fortified town and port along the River Greyflood on the southern border of Arnor


The people of Arnor were of largely of Eriadorian stock, ruled by an elite of Númenórean descent, so the predominant language spoken by them was Westron. With the proximity of the Elves of Lindon, at least some of the population, especially the upper classes, were probably fluent in Quenya and Sindarin.

See also