The New Notion Club Archives
The New Notion Club Archives

Dragons of The North

* In the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, “the far North” — the Grey Mountains and the Withered Heath — is the breeding place of dragons.
Dragons of The North Genealogy & Lifespan.png

Note on the dragons' names

The names of Tolkien’s dragons are not haphazard. Each reflects the language of those who gave the name. Glaurung and Ancalagon, the dragons of The Silmarillion, are given Elvish names because the saga in which they partake reflects an Elven perspective. Similarly, Smaug and Scatha are Germanic names (Old Norse and Old English respectively) because those were the languages which Tolkien chose to use as “translations” for the putative tongues of the peoples of northern Wilderland. The Men of Dale (and the Dwarves who adopted their speech) spoke a language which Tolkien decided to translate by Norse; hence, the dragon that destroyed their town is given a Norse name: “Smaug.” So too Scatha, who was slain by Fram (one of the “Old English”-speaking Éothéod) is an Old English name.

In a letter of 1938, Tolkien explicitly states that “Smaug” is in fact a pseudonym — not a self-given name, but rather a label of opprobrium branded upon the dragon by those whom he has wronged. It is in fact “the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole: a low philological jest.” (Let.31) Similarly, Scatha in Old English means “scather” (i.e., “injurious person, criminal, antagonist, devil, etc.”). “These don’t sound so creditable,” Smaug might have opined. And, in fact, they are not — the names are insults intended to revile and demean. Whether or not a dragon would actually take the trouble to name himself (or herself), and what language s/he might have used to do so, is another issue entirely. What matters is that all of the named dragons in Tolkien are, in fact, names given by their enemies; dragon names should be devised with this in mind.

The vast majority of the dragons of the North are antagonists to speakers of “Old Norse” (Durin’s folk and the Men of Dale or Esgaroth) and for that reason the name revisions presented below are concerned primarily with Norse forms. In some cases we have taken a “conservative” approach, seeking only to render an etymology already established by the old MERP modules (usually CoMe); elsewhere we have gone a step further, creating an entirely new name that reflects some individual quality of a given dragon. Since many of the dragons invented by ICE are supposed to have been in existence already during the First Age (often participating in the Wars of Beleriand), we have also preserved (in corrected form) their Sindarin names. This does not imply that anyone living in the North of Third Age Middle-earth (much less the dragons themselves) would have knowledge of these names; they are intended as “historical notes,” to be used only if as refer to First Age.

Dragons of The North

Proper Norse name [MERP reference material]
  1. AGBURANAR [CoMe.97, 98; GM.30]
  2. AMARTHOVESSË [CoMe. 108]
  3. ANDO-ANCA [CoMe.98-99; GM.23]
  4. ANGURTH [CoMe. 109-110; GM.24]
  5. ARLÉASBÍME [CoMe. 101]
  6. BAIRANAX [CoMe. 106-107; GM.24]
  7. CULGOR [CoMe.99; GM.30]
  8. DAELOMIN [CoMe. 107; GM.24-25]
  9. DRACAETREN [CoMe. 107]
  10. DYNCA [CoMe 107; GM30]
  11. FÛKGRIMA [CoMe 107]
  12. GAYIEL [CoMe 97]
  13. HAURNFILE [CoMe 100; GM30]
  14. HOPILOKARM [CoMe 104]
  15. HYARLEUCA [CoMe 100; GM25]
  16. IAURMILMË [CoMe 100]
  17. IERACA [CoMe 107]
  18. ITANGAST [CoMe 111; GM 25; RR 27]
  19. KHUZADREPA [CoMe 108; GM 25-26]
  20. KLYAXAR [CoMe 101; GM30]
  21. LEUCARUTH [CoMe 112; GM26]
  22. LOMAW [CoMe 104-105; GM 26-27]
  23. MORCARAXË [CoMe 100]
  24. NIMANAUR [CoMe 105, GM30]
  25. NWALKAHENDI [CoMe 97]
  26. RUINGURTH [CoMe 112-113; GM 30]
  27. SCATHA [CoMe 103-104; GM 27]
  28. SCUILACA [CoMe 107]
  29. SMAUG [CoMe GM 28]
  30. THROKMAW [CoMe 114; GM 28]
  31. URUIAL [CoMe 114; GM29]


Based on Other Hands magazine, issue 23 from 1998 - article: Dragons of the North by Chris Seeman

  • CoMe = Creatures of Middle-earth (MERP #8005)
  • GM = The Grey Mountains (MERP #3113)
  • RR = Riders of Rohan (MERP #3100)