The Morthond (S."Blackroot") in western Gondor divided the lands of Lamedon by Tarlang's Neck and Dor-en-Ernil from the province of Anfalas and from the lower course of the river bv the forest wall of the Nineryn. The Pinnath river flowed from its source in the Ered Nimrais to its mouth in the Bay of Belfalas. The Ringló was its primary tributary.The upper course of the River Morthond gave this mountain vale its name.
Morthond Vale was fief to one of central Gondor's two princely lines, the House of Gundor. Though insignificant with respect to size and strategic importance, the vale is nevertheless important to the history and politics of the South-kingdom, due to its familial connections with the Prince of Belfalas and because its own Lord guarded one of the ancient legacies of Númenor, the Black Stone of Erech.
The Morthond Vale became the core territory for the brief but powerful mountain domain of the Daen Coentis during the late Second Age, but was subsequently abandoned as the Oath-breakers withdrew farther into the Ered Nimrais. When Merro Glastanan swore his oath upon the Covenant Stone at Erech, Isildur named the Prince of Belfalas as its witness, and gave to him and Merro the Gwaedhil as tokens of the covenant between the Dúnedain and the Daen king. With these blades went (for the prince) the wardenship of the Stone of Erech. Later, during the early Third Age, this wardenship was informally extended to encompass the new Danan Lin settlers; and finally, with the ascension of Tarannon Falastur in T.A. 830, the Morthond Vale was granted as a feudal estate to Gundor, the second son of Prince Lothirion of Belfalas.
The House of Gundor persisted as a distinct princely lineage until the death of the last prince in T.A. 1975 during the Gondorian conflict in Eriador. After that time Prince Edrahil II declined King Eärnil's offer to reclaim the fief for Belfalas, saying instead that it should be entrusted to the care of Marach, one of the Morthond-prince's loyal retainers who had achieved great renown in the defeat of Angmar in the north. Between T.A. 1975 and the end of the age, the Morthond Vale was ruled by the House od Marach. When the last lord of this line perished in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields during the War of the Ring Aragorn Elessar restored the fief to Dor-en-Ernil making it subject to Prince Imrahil and his descendants.
The Blackroot Vale reaches a width of more than sixty miles at its widest point, before it was narrowed by the line of Tarlang's Neck in the southeast. Because the vale was well-watered by the mountain streams, arable land was plentiful (though much of the higher ground was reserved for sheep and goat herding) The surrounding mountains rose quite abruptly on all sides, discouraging settlement on their slopes.The most notable topographical feature of the vale itself was the Hill of Erech, which rose near to its center. With the exception of its principal headwater, the Blackroot itself, all of the water courses that fed the River Morthond were fordable.
Flora and Fauna
Like many vales of the Ered Nimrais, the Blackrootvale was rich in herbs and other natural curatives. Whereas the Nineryn possessed a variety of trees and plant life, pines were the most common tree found throughout the vale proper. Even on the nearly sheer mountain walls it was not uncommon to find a stand of such trees, clinging tenaciously against the force of gravity on the narrow rock ledges. Flowing grasses carpeted the valley floor wherever the land had not been cultivated. Wheat and barley were the principal crops, and the Morthond Vale produced enough to feed all of its inhabitants abundantly without the necessity of importing bulk foodstuffs from elsewhere. Because of its small size and inhabited character, the majority of animal life in Nan Morthond was domestic - farm animals in the agricultural areas and sheep and goats in the uplands. By contrast, the steep sides of the White Mountains supported a fairly diverse array of wildlife. Mountain goats leaped from ledge to ledge with death-defying grace they sought out edible plants in otherwise inaccessible crags. Eagles, hawks and other birds of prey nested in eyries that overlooked the vale below. Deer, boar and other hunting animals were plentiful in the Nineryn. Wolves inhabited mountain woodlands, but seldom approached the well guarded farmlands.
The folk of Morthond were almost entirely of Danan Lin extraction. This was due to the fact that the vale had onginally been Daen Coentis rerritoiy, and so had lacked a mixture of other racial and ethnic strains. With the fading of the Daen Coentis after the Oathbreaking in S.A. 3434, the vale came to be largely abandoned during the course of the first few centuries of the Third Age. Soon after this, political tension and population pressure within the Númenórean-dominated coastal settlements of Anfalas or elsewhere led many Danan Lin of less mixed blood to migrate further inland, occupying the then-uninhabited Nan Morthond.
Prince Lothirion of Belfalas, always one to advocate the peaceful separation of races, petitioned King Tarannon in T.A. 831 that the Nan Morthond, then a roval ward under the nominal stewardship of Dor-en-Ernil, should be transformed into a fief to which the Danan Lin, always loyal to the Dúnedain, could remove, free of the tensions then manifesting themselves in the troublesome Anfalas colonies. By making Morthond a fief, Gondorian provincials would be discouraged from colonizing the region and, at the same time, the Daen-folk would remain Gondorian subjects.
The majority of the inhabitants of Morthond were farmers or shepherds, though a good number also worked in the numerous mines of the region on behalf of the prince. The only noble inhabiting the vale was the Lord and his household. The sole exception to the norm was represented by the prison colony of Imlad Angren, which worked the adjoining mines; but these criminals, many of whom originated elsewhere in southern Gondor, did not interact much with the rest of the populace.
Politics and Power
Morthond possessed little in the way of government; it was essentially a large estate, ruled by a single noble family. The fief conrained no settlements of appreciable size to warrant any distinctive political institutions — the largest village, surrounding the walls of the prince's castle of Morthondost, contained less than three hundred inhabitants. The Danan Lin farmers and shepherds lived by their own customs, appealing to the Lord only when resolution of a dispute could not be achieved through traditional means. The Lord was, moreover, appealed to directly, and only a few of the Lord's household retainers acted in his stead.
In times of war, the Lord of Mornan simply became part of the cavalry of Belfalas. The Nan Morthond was able to field a levy of five hundred men, most of whom were skilled with the bow or other hunting weapons. This levy, however, was called upon only when the defense of the realm itself was at stake. During peacetime, the Lord selected a local militia for maintaining domestic order in the fief. Morthondost possessed a small garrison, but this was rarely sent beyond the castle walls,
Settlements and Points of Interest
Alagrant Blackroot Graves Cabed Angren Garth Lotheg Gate of the Dead (South) Heahyrne Imlad Angren Lancrath Lhingroth Minas Anghen Morlad Mornen Morthondost Nineryn Rendûl Rond Rhandir Sardol Sarn Erech Stone circle Tarlang's Crown Tarlang's Peaks Tingobel Tingobel Mine Troggha's Tower
Before TA 1640
ca. TA 1640
ca. TA 1640-2941
Men: Amathon Bandron Belegant Boradan Calennen Celegdal Derufin of Erech Dírion Duilin of Morthond Duinhir of Morthond Ecthel Elaglar Garthwen Glorwen Gondren Gordir Gúrion Harnion Hirwë Landiach Ludhír Malthellam Mellien Melril Nethadan Orodir Osbenn Rodaglar Rosfin Rovalang Sarnir Sidharan Sirnir Thenidiel Uidor
Undead: Amorchant Du-kalon Hemokh Holkaz Nerzus Ruzkat Skorkaz Skorneval
Other: Dírion's dog Gúrnathron Old Brôg Tarlang's Fang white stag
Mountain-goats Mountain-lions Vale-bears Vale-harts
- MERP: Southern Gondor: The Land