The Fortress of Durthang ~ The Dark History of Durthang


Fortress of Durthang on the cliffs of the Ephel Dúath

“A few miles north, high up in the angle where the western spur branched away from the main range,
stood the old castle of Durthang, now one of the many orc-holds that clustered about the dale of Udûn.”


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TolkienCanon3The fortress of Durthang was erected in the years following the fall of Sauron after the Battle of the Last Alliance. It was built upon an outcropping of rock, high atop a barren spur that jutted out of the Mountains of Shadow and formed the southwestern border of Udûn. From it’s high vantage point, watchers could look out to the left and see the inner walls of the Black Gate to the Northeast and the Vale of Udûn spread out to the east. Directly below was the narrow gap of Carach Angren, also known as the Isenmouth, where the walls of Udûn ended and the great plain of Gorgoroth began. If one looked to the right in the direction of the southeast, the Plateau of Gorgoroth stretched out as a vast plain, where the fires of Mount Doom lit up the night skies. To the east lay the veiling shadow in which the Dark Tower stood sentinel over Mordor.

As the vigilance of Gondor faded and Sauron once more took Mordor as his own, the old castle of Durthang became one of many fortress and orc-holds along the western wall of Udûn, inside the Black Gate. A single road ran down from its gate to the plain below and came to the crossroads, where many ways met at the Isenmouth.

Frodo and Sam, after traveling north along the Morgai came upon the fortress, which sat sullenly upon it’s mountain spur and looked out upon the plain of Mordor. Nothing moved on the roads the would not be noted by vigilant eyes.

Durthang1“The trough between the mountains and the Morgai had steadily dwindled as it climbed upwards, and the inner ridge was now no more then a shelf in the steep faces of the Ephel Dûath; but to the east it feel as sheerly as ever down into Gorgoroth.  Ahead the water-course came to an end in broken steps of rock; for out from the main range there sprang a high barren spur, thrusting eastward like a wall. To meet it there stretched out from the grey and misty northern range of Ered Lithui  a long  jutting arm; and thrusting eastward and between the ends there was a narrow gap; Carach Angren, the Isenmouth, beyond which lay the deep dale of Udûn.
In that dale behind the Morannon were the tunnels and deep armories the the servants of Mordor had made for the defense of the Black gate of their land; an there now their Lord was gathering in haste great forces to meet the onslaught of the captains of the West. Upon the out-thrust spurs forts and towers were built, and watch fires burned; and all across the gap and earth-wall had been raised, and a deep trench delved the could be crossed only be  a single bridge.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Land of Shadow’


Durthang2The hobbits emerged from the path along the Morgai and found a land preparing for war. They hid among some broken rocks and tried to find a way down to the plain below.

“A few miles north. high up in the angle where the western spur branched  away from the main range, stood the old castle of Durthang, now one of the many orc-holds the clustered about the dale of Udûn. A road already visible in the growing light, came winding down from it, until only a mile or two from where the hobbits lay it turned east and ran along a shelf cut in the side of the spur, and so went down into the plain, and on to the Isenmouth.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Land of Shadow’


This ancient Castle of Durthang was a fortress shrouded in mystery during the last millennium of the Third Age. It’s strategic location upon the eastern slopes of the Ephel Dúath, made it an important watch tower along the inner wall of Mordor. It looked down upon the vale of Udûn to the left and over looked the plain of Gorogoroth and the Morgai to the right. None could pass through Carach Angren without being watched from this high place and so it became the main watchtower over the entrance into Mordor proper.

“A troop of heavy-armed uruks from Barad-dûr charged into the Durthang line and threw them into confusion.”


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 Posted by at 6:59 am