The Ancient Fortress of Morgoth
“The orcs that multiplied in the darkness of the earth grew strong and fell,
and their dark lord filled them with a lust of ruin and death; and they issued from Angband’s gates under the clouds
that Morgoth sent forth, and passed silently into the highlands of the north.”
The Silmarillion: Quenta Silmarillion Ch 14 Of Beleriand and Its Realms
In the Years of the Lamps when Arda was still young and the Valar began to shape the world for the coming of the Elves, Melkor reentered Arda and with Maiar spirits who had attuned themselves to his music, they made war on the Valar and destroyed the Great Lamps that lighted the world, casting Arda into darkness. After the breaking of the Lamps, Melkor built his second, lesser fortress of Angband in the west, as a defense against the Valar’s attacks.
Angband was delved into the Iron Mountains, and was given to Sauron to command. This great fortress, much like Utumno was a vast subterranean stronghold under the three volcanic mountains of Thangorodrim created by Melkor. The Great Gate into Angband was reached by traveling down a long court flanked by massive cliffs, with towers and battlements built into them. Within the gate, there was a deep tunnel leading to a great labyrinth of stairs, corridors, tunnels, forges with mighty chimneys that ran up through the mountains to the smoking towers of Thangorodrim, which spewed a constant flume of smoke and ash. There were also slave quarters, prisons, dungeons, storerooms and vaults. At its foundation was the entrance into Morgoth’s throne room in the Nethermost Hall.
During the Years of the Trees, after it was discovered that Morgoth had captured and corrupted many of the Children of Ilúvatar, transforming them by torture and other foul craft into orcs, the Valar made war upon Melkor and in his defeat he was captured and imprisoned for three Ages of the earth.
But as the third age of the captivity of Melkor drew on, the Dwarves became troubled, and they spoke to King Thingol, saying that the Valar had not rooted out utterly the evils to the North, and now the remnant, having long multiplied in the dark, were coming forth once more and roaming far and wide. ‘There are fell beasts’. they said,’in the land east of the mountains, and your ancient kindred that dwell there are flying from the plains to the hills.’
And ere long the evil creatures came even to Beleriand, over passes in the mountains, or up from the south through the dark forests. Wolves there were, or creatures that walked in wolf-shapes, and other fell beings of shadow, and among them were the Orcs, who afterwards wrought ruin in Beleriand: but they were yet few and wary, and did but smell out the ways of the land, awaiting the return of their lord. Whence they came, or what they were, the Elves knew not then, thinking them perhaps to be Avari who had become evil and savage in the wild; in which they guessed all to near, it is said.
But it came to pass at last that the end of the bliss was at hand, and the noontide of Valinor was drawing to its twilight. For as has been told and as is known to all, being written in lore and sung in many songs, Melkor slew the Trees of the Valar with the aid of Ungoliant (Gloomweaver, the Great Spider), and escaped, and came back to Middle-earth.
Far to the north befell the strife of Morgoth and Ungoliant, but the great cry of Morgoth echoed through Beleriand, and all its people shrank for fear, for though they knew not what it foreboded, they heard then the herald of death. Soon afterwards Ungoliant fled from the north and came into the realm of King Thingol, and a terror of darkness was about her, but by the power of Melian she was stayed, and entered not into Neldoreth, but abode long time under the shadow of the precipices in which Dorthonion fell southward. And they became known as Ered Gorgoroth, the Mountains of Terror, and none dared go thither, or pass nigh them, there life and light were strangled, and there all waters were poisoned. But Morgoth, as has before been told, returned to Angband, and built it anew, and above its doors he reared the reeking towers of Thangorodrim, and the gates of Morgoth were but one hundred and fifty leagues distance from the bridge of Menegroth: far and yet all too near.
From Simarillion in the chapter ‘Of the Sindar’
The siege of Angband that lasted four hundred years…
Yet the Noldor could not capture Angband., nor could they regain the Silmarils; and war never fully ceased in all the time of the siege, for Morgoth devised new evils, and ever and anon he would make trail of his enemies. Nor could the stronghold of Morgoth be ever wholly encircled; for the Iron Mountains, from whose great curving wall of towers of Thangorodrim were thrust forward, defended it upon either side, and were impassible to the Noldor, because of their snow and ice. Thus in the rear and to the north Morgoth had no foes, and by that way his spies at times went out, and came by devious routes into Beleriand. And desiring above all to sow fear and disunion among the Eldar, he commanded the Orcs to take alive any of them that they could and bring them bound to Angband; and some he so daunted by terror of his eyes that they needed no chains more, but walked ever in fear of him, doing his will wherever they might be. Thus Morgoth learned much of all that had befallen since the rebellion of Fëanor, and he rejoiced, seeing therein the seed of many dissensions among his foes.
From Simarillion in the chapter ‘Of the Return of the Noldor’
Now the orcs that multiplied in the darkness of the earth grew strong and fell, and their dark lord filled them with a lust of ruin and death; and they issued from Angband’s gates under the clouds that Morgoth sent forth, and passed silently into the highlands of the north.
Thence on a sudden a great army came into Beleriand and assailed King Thingol. Now in his wide realm many Elves wandered free in the wild, or dwelt at peace in small kindreds far sundered; and only about Menegroth in the midst of the land, and along the Falas in the country of the Mariners, were there numerous peoples. But the Orcs came down upon either side of Menegroth, and from camps in the east between Celon an Gelion, and west in the plains between Sirion and Narog, they plundered far and wide; and Thingol was cut off from Cirdan at Eglarest. Therefore he called upon Denethor; and the Elves came in force from Region beyond Aros and from Ossiriand, and fought the first battle in the Wars of Beleriand. And the eastern host of the Orcs was taken between the armies of the Eldar, north of Andram and midway between Aros and Gelion, and there they were utterly defeated, and those that fled north from the great slaughter were waylaid by the axes of Naugrim that issued for Mount Dolmed: few indeed returned to Angband.
But the victory of the elves was dear-bought. For those of Ossiriand were light-armed, and no match for the Orcs, who were shod with iron and iron-shielded and bore great spears with broad blades……
From Simarillion in the chapter ‘Of the Sindar’