The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Location
Running west to east through the northern parts of Greenwood the Great
Pronunciation
e'moon dui'rr ('ui' as in English 'ruin'; 'rr' indicates that the final r sound should be pronounced)
Meaning
Literally 'dark hills', but usually translated 'Dark Mountains'
Other names

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About this entry:

  • Updated 21 November 2022
  • This entry is complete
Map of Emyn Duir

In the wide and wild lands of Rhovanion, a vast forest ran eastward from the Vales of Anduin, forming an almost unbroken canopy of trees that extended for hundreds of miles. In the northern parts of this forest, a chain of high hills ran from west to east, reaching their tallest extent in the eastern end of the range.

Through most of the earlier history of Middle-earth, the wide forest was known as Eryn Galen, Greenwood the Great, and under its trees a people of the Silvan Elves lived in peace. The slopes of the high hills running through the forest were densely covered in firs, and so the Elves of the Wood gave them the name Emyn Duir, the Dark Mountains. That name had no ominous associations in those times, referring simply to the shade of the thick growths of fir trees on the hills.

In their early history, the Silvan Elves of the Greenwood had lived in the southern part of the forest, across the Great River from their cousins in Lórien. During the Second Age, these people began to migrate northward through the woods, and by the end of that Age they had mainly settled in the valleys at the eastern end of Emyn Duir. The Elves of the Greenwood were at that time widely scattered, and though most of them dwelt in the eastern parts of the Dark Mountains, they could be found across the entire range and farther to the west.

The Elves dwelt among the mountains of Emyn Duir for a thousand years or more, but after that time a Shadow began to spread through the Forest. This Shadow had its origins at Dol Guldur, where the Necromancer had made his stronghold, and the dark influence of the Sorcerer of Dol Guldur spread northward through the Forest. Emyn Duir, long known as the Dark Mountains, now became dark indeed, and evil creatures wandered their slopes. The Elves therefore departed from their mountain homes and moved northward once again, eventually giving rise to the Woodland Realm in the far northeast of the Forest. It was from this period that the Greenwood of Eryn Galen began to be called Mirkwood (Taur-nu-Fuin or Taur e-Ndadelos in Elvish), and the mountains of Emyn Duir became Emyn-nu-Fuin, the Mountains of Mirkwood.


There was one known river running out of the hills of Emyn Duir, a stream that flowed from the northern slopes and curved through the woods below before emptying into the Forest River. In the later years of the Third Age, the water of this river ran black, and caused all who touched it to fall into a deep sleep. The stream was thus known as the Enchanted River, and though the source of its enchantment remains mysterious, a possible explanation would be the monstrous creatures of Sauron that now wandered Emyn Duir near the river's source. Historically, the spider-like creatures that haunted the slopes of Ered Gorgoroth during the First Age were said to have placed a similar curse on the streams that flowed out of their domain, and the giant spiders of northern Mirkwood perhaps had a similar effect on the river that ran out of Emyn Duir.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 21 November 2022
  • This entry is complete

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