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Made sometime between III 2770 and c. III 27901
Showed Erebor and the immediately adjacent lands
Made by Thrór
Important peaks
The map was centred around Erebor, the Lonely Mountain
Thrór is pronounced 'thro'r'
Thrór apparently comes from the Old Norse for 'thrive'


About this entry:

  • Updated 31 July 2010
  • This entry is complete

Thrór’s Map

The map that guided the Quest of Erebor

A map made by Thrór the King under the Mountain, after he had been exiled from his kingdom by the Dragon Smaug. As was traditional among the Dwarves, it was drawn with East at the top of the map, rather than North, and showed the Lonely Mountain of Erebor, the Running River that flowed from it, and the lands about. It also contained mention of a secret entrance to the Mountain, and (written in secret Moon-letters) instructions as to how it might be opened.

In his old age, Thrór set out to wander the lands of Middle-earth, but before departing he gave the heirlooms of his house to his son Thráin, including his Map. Years later, Thráin too set out into Middle-earth, seeking to recover Erebor himself, and taking with him the Map to guide his way. He was captured in the Wild by the servants of Sauron, but Sauron had captured Thráin for the Ring of Power he bore, and so overlooked the map he was also carrying. This proved to be a serious oversight, because Gandalf would later secretly enter Sauron's lair at Dol Guldur while Thráin was a prisoner there, managing to escape with the map and the key that opened the secret door.

Using Thrór's Map, his grandson Thorin was able to lead a small group of Dwarves (and one Hobbit, a certain Bilbo Baggins) on his own quest to refound the ancient Dwarf-realm. Through many adventures, they were able to recover Erebor and bring about the destruction of Smaug, dealing Sauron a serious reverse.



We don't know exactly when Thrór made his Map, but the fact that it depicts Smaug shows that it must have been made after the Dwarves were driven out of Erebor in III 2770. The first definite mention we have of the Map is about twenty years later, when Thrór passed it to his son Thráin before setting out for Moria.

We do have one further clue to the year the map was made. When Elrond read the Moon-letters in the year III 2941, he observed that the Map must have been made on the same date (Midsummer) and under the same crescent of the Moon. Because the phases of the Moon repeat on a cycle that takes nineteen years, we can work out possible dates by calculating back in multiples of nineteen years. This gives us two possibilities: III 2770 (the year the Dwarves were driven out of Erebor) or III 2789 (just before Thrór's Map first appeared in history).

To complicate matters considerably, in the essay The Quest of Erebor in Unfinished Tales, Gandalf says that he found Thráin with 'a map that had belonged to Durin's folk in Moria' (our italics). Moria was abandoned by Durin's Folk in III 1981 so, if this account is correct, it would make the map far, far older than any of the estimates presented here (and indeed older than the kingdom of Erebor itself).

However, it is very difficult to square this mention of Moria with the history of Durin's Folk (the map is full of anachronistic references to places and events, not least the actual foundation of Erebor by Thráin I after Moria was abandoned). If the map really was created by Durin's Folk in Moria, then it can only have been a very basic sketch, with most of its details added centuries later. It seems simpler to assume that Gandalf's words are not meant to be taken absolutely literally, and that he is referring to Durin's Folk as the people who lived in Moria long ago, rather than implying that the map actually dated back to those times.

See also...



About this entry:

  • Updated 31 July 2010
  • This entry is complete

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