The Great Battering Ram of Mordor
“Great engines crawled across the field; and in the midst was a huge ram,
great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the dark smithies of Mordor,
and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf;
on it spells of ruin lay. Grond they named it.”
The LOTR: B5 C4
Grond was a huge battering ram, a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains and forged in the smithies of Mordor. It was named after the weapon of Morgoth, the mighty Hammer of the Underworld. This engine of destruction was fashioned by the Dark Lord for only one purpose, to break the gate of Minas Tirith. It is true the Sauron could have used other methods to destroy the gate, such as the fire of Orthanc that broke the walls of Helms Deep, but the Dark Lord desired more then the breaking of the gate, he also wanted break the will of those who would defy him. Grond in all it’s massive bulk and size, was a thing to inspire fear and dread in his enemies. It was a display of power, vast and reckless in it’s hunger to crush and rend. All who saw Grond approaching upon the burning field of the Pelennor quailed in heart and mind.
Grond was a battering ram on a massive scale and many lives of orcs and men had been lost in it’s making. It was likely fashioned in the great smithies beneath Barad-dûr or perhaps in the mightiest of all forges in Middle-earth, Sammath Naur, using the unbridled fires in the heart of Mount Doom. It was founded with a substance know as Black Steel, which was likely made from dark ore mined from the depths of Mount Doom and mixed with Moria Silver, which the Dark Lord coveted. Etched with dark intaglio and Morgul spells, Grond was a thing born of dark magic and evil malice.
This vast machine of war had likely been years in the making. Designed by Sauron himself this huge ram in the shape of a ravening wolf was engineered, so that a hot fire could be stoked within its iron jaws giving the beast a frightening visage to those watching it coming from under the shadow of Mordor.
Some believe Grond may have been more than a weapon of wood and metal, that it had within a dark heart of fire, perhaps a vast monster begat of strange beasts bred in the Pits of Lamination beneath Barad-dûr. A great creature sheathed in black armor and unleashed with spells of ruin that ignited the flames of Udûn within. For those who watched in terror as it crossed the Pelennor, it would certainly have looked like a giant warg with a mouth of raging fire. It’s origins will never be known for sure, for none now live who remember it.
Upon the fields of the Pelennor, the battle raged as was recorded in the Red Book of Westmarch.
Ever since the middle night the great assault had gone on. The drums rolled. To the north and to the south company upon company of the enemy pressed to the walls. There came great beasts, like moving houses in the red and fitful light, the mûmakil of the Harad dragging through the lanes amid the fires huge towers and engines. Yet their Captain cared not greatly what they did or how many might be slain: their purpose was only to test the strength of the defense and to keep the men of Gondor busy in many places. It was against the Gate that he would throw his heaviest weight. Very strong it might be, wrought of steel and iron, and guarded with towers and bastions of indomitable stone, yet it was the key, the weakest point in all that high and impenetrable wall.
The drums rolled louder. Fires leaped up. Great engines crawled across the field; and in the midst was a huge ram, great as a forest-tree a hundred feet in length, swinging on mighty chains. Long had it been forging in the dark smithies of Mordor, and its hideous head, founded of black steel, was shaped in the likeness of a ravening wolf; on it spells of ruin lay. Grond they named it, in memory of the Hammer of the Underworld of old. Great beasts drew it, Orcs surrounded it, and behind walked mountain-trolls to wield it.
But about the Gate resistance still was stout, and there the knights of Dol Amroth and the hardiest of the garrison stood at bay. Shot and dart fell thick; siege-towers crashed or blazed suddenly like torches. All before the walls on either side of the Gate the ground was choked with wreck and with bodies of the slain; yet still driven as by a madness more and more came up.
Grond crawled on. Upon its housing no fire would catch; and though now and again some great beast that hauled it would go mad and spread stamping ruin among the orcs innumerable that guarded it, their bodies were cast aside from its path and others took their place.
Grond crawled on. The drums rolled wildly. Over the hills of slain a hideous shape appeared: a horseman, tall, hooded, cloaked in black. Slowly, trampling the fallen, he rode forth, heeding no longer any dart. He halted and held up a long pale sword. And as he did so a great fear fell on all, defender and foe alike; and the hands of men drooped to their sides, and no bow sang. For a moment all was still.
The drums rolled and rattled. With a vast rush Grond was hurled forward by huge hands. It reached the Gate. It swung. A deep boom rumbled through the City like thunder running in the clouds. But the doors of iron and posts of steel withstood the stroke.
Then the Black Captain rose in his stirrups and cried aloud in a dreadful voice, speaking in some forgotten tongue words of power and terror to rend both heart and stone.
Thrice he cried. Thrice the great ram boomed. And suddenly upon the last stroke the Gate of Gondor broke. As if stricken by some blasting spell it burst asunder: there was a flash of searing lightning, and the doors tumbled in riven fragments to the ground.
In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl. A great black shape against the fires beyond he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair. In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.
All save one. There waiting, silent and still in the space before the Gate, sat Gandalf upon Shadowfax: Shadowfax who alone among the free horses of the earth endured the terror, unmoving, steadfast as a graven image in Rath Dínen.
‘You cannot enter here,’ said Gandalf, and the huge shadow halted. ‘Go back to the abyss prepared for you! Go back! Fall into the nothingness that awaits you and your Master. Go!’
The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter.
‘Old fool!’ he said. ‘Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!’ And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.
Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, reckoning nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.
From The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in the chapter ‘The Siege of Gondor’