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Migrated into the White Mountains at some point during the Second Age
Originally settled in Minhiriath, but later migrated into the White Mountains, and many then passed northward again to Dunland and the Bree-land
Gave rise to the Dunlendings and the Men of Bree
Associated with Dunharrow in the White Mountains, and some later settled in Bree
Named in reference to the White Mountains, where this people dwelt during the Second Age (and where many remained, as the Dead, through the Third Age)


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 February 2022
  • This entry is complete

Men of the Mountains

A wandering race of Men

The Men who lived among the peaks and vales of the White Mountains dated back into the mists of history. Their origins are uncertain, but they seem to have travelled out of the East at some point during the First Age. They found the mountains already occupied by Drúedain or Woses, who had preceded them westward across the Great River Anduin.

We have very little detail about the earliest period of the history of these people,1 but they seem to have become divided into two factions. One group were friendly to the Drúedain, and when they moved away northwards, some of the Woses accompanied them. These were the ancestors of the Haladin, who eventually crossed into Beleriand and settled in Brethil as one of the Three Houses of the Edain.

By no means all of these Men were of like mind. Many others remained, and they persecuted to the Woses cruelly. The Drúedain were forced to withdraw from the main range of the White Mountains, hiding out in the far western coastlands or the forests of the eastern foothills. It was probably at about this time that the Men of the Mountains made their great temple complex at the place later called Dunharrow.2

Not all of these people remained among the White Mountains, and some passed northwards, becoming the ancestors of the Dunlendings and the Bree-men. During the Second Age, as the power of Sauron grew in Middle-earth, the Men who remained among the White Mountains turned to the worship of the Dark Lord.

In the closing years of the Second Age, the sons of Elendil founded the realm of Gondor at the feet of the White Mountains, and Isildur demanded that the inhabitants of the mountains renounce Sauron and swear an oath of fealty to their new rulers. They agreed, but in terror of their former lord Sauron, they later abandoned this oath, causing Isildur to place a dreadful curse upon them. This was the origin of the Dead Men, the restless shades who haunted the Dwimborberg throughout the Third Age. In the War of the Ring at the close of that Age, they finally fulfilled their ancient promise, and were released by Isildur's Heir, Aragorn.



The origins and history of the Men of the Mountains are almost completely mysterious, and much of what is said here is based on deduction rather than direct references. The coming of Men out of the East to find the Drúedain among the White Mountains is described in notes within the essay The Drúedain in Unfinished Tales, as is the connection of the Woses with the Haladin. Meanwhile Of Dwarves of Men in volume XII of The History of Middle-earth discusses a remnant of the ancestors of the Haladin in Middle-earth who did not make the journey into Beleriand, though these people are not specifically connected to the White Mountains.

The description given here of a movement of the ancestors of the Haladin into the White Mountains, followed by a division that saw some travel north and some remain, is probably the most parsimonious way to harmonise the disparate sources, but not the only one. We might alternatively imagine at least two waves of Men coming out of the East, with one (the ancestors of the People of Haleth) travelling away with a following of Drúedain, while another unrelated people (or peoples) remained to become the Men of the Mountains.


It is extremely likely that the Men of the Mountains created Dunharrow, but not absolutely certain. In notes on the nomenclature for translators of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien calls Dunharrow 'a sacred place of the old inhabitants (now the Dead Men)', which seems to be a direct reference to the Men of the Mountains raising the temple. On the other hand, in The Lord of the Rings itself, the builders were said to be long-forgotten, and unnamed in any history. It could be said that, as the Dead, the Men of the Mountains were far from being long-forgotten (though it's true that they're never given a name in any source). So, while the Men of the Mountains were very likely to have been the makers of the original temple at Dunharrow, it's just possible that it was made by some other forgotten people, and adopted as a sacred site by the Men of the Mountains who later settled there.


About this entry:

  • Updated 6 February 2022
  • This entry is complete

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