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The earliest Dwarf-cities dated back into the First Age; the great city of Khazad-dûm was deserted in III 1981, but Erebor still existed (after a turbulent history) at the end of the Third Age1
Dwarf-cities tended to be located within and beneath mountains, and were known to exist in the Blue Mountains, the Misty Mountains and beneath Erebor, the Lonely Mountain
Khazad-dûm and Erebor were founded by the Longbeards (Durin's Folk), but other cities (notably those of the Blue Mountains) were occupied by other clans of Dwarves
The greatest of the Dwarf-cities was Khazad-dûm, and other major examples included Belegost, Erebor and Nogrod, with other unknown cities lying farther to the East
Important peaks
Dwarf-cities lay beneath Mount Dolmed in the Blue Mountains, the Mountains of Moria among the Misty Mountains, and Erebor, the Lonely Mountain


About this entry:

  • Updated 16 May 2024
  • Updates planned: 1


The mountain dwellings of the Dwarves

The great cities of the Dwarves were in all cases associated with mountainous terrain, no doubt due to the Dwarves' love of mining and metalwork. The Dwarf-cities for which we have a detailed descriptions - Khazad-dûm and Erebor - were tunnelled within and beneath mountains (the Mountains of Moria and the Lonely Mountain, respectively). We don't know for sure whether all Dwarf-cities were constructed on this underground model, but the two other cities whose names are recorded - Belegost and Nogrod - were both built among the peaks of the Blue Mountains, and were quite possibly tunnelled under those peaks like Khazad-dûm.

Elsewhere in the world, it seems that there was an ancestral Dwarf-city at one time at Mount Gundabad in the north, but this was captured by the Orcs during the Second Age,2 and during the Third Age it remained in the hands of the Goblins (who indeed made it their northern capital). There were other Dwarf-cities in Middle-earth, too, but they lay far off in the East, and their names have nowhere been recorded.



The timeline for this entry shows the histories of the great Dwarf-cities of the Westlands, specifically Khazad-dûm (which stood from the First Age until its fall in III 1981) and Erebor, which was intermittently occupied into the Fourth Age. The cities of the Blue Mountains (Nogrod and Belegost) were lost at the end of the First Age, and many of their people merged with those of Khazad-dûm.

No attempt is made here to show the timelines of the other Dwarf-cities of the East, about which we know almost nothing, though the fact that Dwarves of other clans joined the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs implies that at least some of these cities persisted into the later Third Age. The timeline also omits the settlements of the Longbeard Dwarves in the Grey Mountains, the Iron Hills, Dunland, and their later dwellings in the Blue Mountains. All of these places were home to the Longbeards at different times in their history, but if the Dwarves established cities in any of these locations, they are not named as such.


The history of the Dwarves of Gundabad is barely mentioned, but the few references we do have suggest a complex and violent history. In the essay Of Dwarves and Men (in volume XII of The History of Middle-earth, Gundabad is said to have been the mountain where Durin the Deathless, first of the Fathers of the Dwarves, had awakened. It was thus a revered place among the Dwarves, and especially among Durin's descendants, the Longbeards.

Our first mention of Gundabad in histories describe the mountain city being captured by Orcs during the Second Age (in fact the word used in Of Dwarves and Men is 're-taken', implying that it had already been lost by the Dwarves at some earlier time and then recaptured). It remained occupied by the Orcs during the Third Age, but it was attacked and sacked by the Dwarves during the War of the Dwarves and the Orcs (III 2790 - III 2799). Nonetheless, the Dwarves seem to have failed to recapture it, or to have lost it again, because by the time of the Quest of Erebor (III 2941) it was still in the hands of the Orcs.


About this entry:

  • Updated 16 May 2024
  • Updates planned: 1

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