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A river of eastern Eriador, flowing south and west from the Misty Mountains to meet Glanduin
In the western Misty Mountains, about a hundred miles north of Rivendell
Met Glanduin above Tharbad to form the river Greyflood
'Pale grey spring'1
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 July 2018
  • This entry is complete

River Hoarwell

The northern river also called Mitheithel

Map of the river Hoarwell

A river of northern Middle-earth, known in Elvish as the Mitheithel, that rose from a turbulent spring2 among the Ettenmoors, on the lower western slopes of the Misty Mountains. It flowed southwestwards out of the highlands, carving a deep valley for itself as it ran through the lands that formed eastern Arnor (and later Rhudaur).

As it passed to the west of the Trollshaws it met the East-West Road, which crossed it by a stone bridge known as the Last Bridge. From there, its course veered to the south, and it continued until it met the Loudwater (or Bruinen) some hundred miles from the bridge. Between these two rivers, a narrow triangle of land was formed, a region known as the Angle. From that point onward,3 it was generally known as the Greyflood or Gwathló, and it flowed on southwestwards through Tharbad until it met the Great Sea at the ancient port of Lond Daer. During the earlier part of the Third Age, the southerly banks of the Hoarwell were maintained by engineers from Tharbad, until the influence of the Dúnedain waned.

The Hoarwell was significant in history as the route by which the Fallohide Hobbits found their way into Eriador. Crossing the Misty Mountains near its source, they followed the valley of the river southwards into more hospitable country.



The name 'Hoarwell' is a translation into archaic English of Elvish Mitheithel. In this context 'hoar' (from Old English hár) means 'whitish-grey', and 'well' refers to the spring or sources of the river.


The springs of the Hoarwell are not explicitly described, but we can imagine their appearance from the river's name, which means 'pale grey spring'. 'Pale grey' here presumably refers to the churning waters of the river's source.


Various references confirm that the Hoarwell's confluence with the Loudwater was the point where both those rivers merged to form the Greyflood. However, the point is confused slightly by the maps that accompany The Lord of the Rings, where the name Mitheithel (Elvish for 'Hoarwell') clearly extends much further south than the meeting point of the two rivers. We can perhaps take this as a reflection of Aragorn's words (in The Fellowship of the Ring I 12, Flight to the Ford); speaking of the Hoarwell he says that it '...joins the Loudwater away in the South. Some call it the Greyflood after that' (emphasis added). This seems to imply that there was no universal agreement about the naming of the river, and that some saw the Hoarwell as continuing on past the Loudwater and into the south.


About this entry:

  • Updated 26 July 2018
  • This entry is complete

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