The Labyrinth of Moria
“This is the great realm and of dwarrowdelf. And of old it was not darksome,
but full of light and splendor, as is still remembered in out songs.”
LOTR: FOTR B2 C4
This page written and edited by our Dark Historian Grievous
The city of Moria was cavernous and rambling. The main entrance was the Great Gates, which were set in the side of Celebdil. The doors of the Gates were destroyed in the Battle of Azanulbizar. Behind the Gates was a short tunnel, the walls of which contained various holes for archers to shoot through. At the end of the tunnel was a smaller gateway that led into the First Hall on the First Level. In the first hall and in the tunnels around it were many works of defense. Eastwards from the First Hall a stairway descended to the First Deep. There it came out on a narrow platform before a deep abyss. This abyss was spanned only by the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, which led into the Second Hall.
The eastern region of Moria was mostly city. There were seven Levels, which rose above the First Level, the level on which the Great Gates were set, and seven Deeps, which sunk below it. There were many large halls on these levels, most with some purpose or other; for example, the Eighth Hall, on the Second Deep, was used as a Market-Hall, while the Seventh Hall, on the First Deep, served as the Throne Room. The Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Halls were all set on the First, Second, and Third Deeps, which were created first. The Levels were built second, and contained halls Thirteen through Twenty-One. The Levels were less extensive than the initial Deeps, but had better air and were more adapted to housing due to the light shafts that went down to the Seventh, Sixth, and Fifth Levels. After the Levels were completed, the lower Deeps were made. On these Halls Twenty-Three through Thirty were dug. The Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Deeps gradually became taken over by mineshafts, treasuries, and forges. The staircase between the Fifth and Sixth Deeps collapsed at one point, and the Sixth and Seventh Deeps were likely flooded. Several major roads led out from the eastern city: the original road to the Endless Stair from the Seventh Deep, which long was lost and collapsed; the road from the Market-Hall to Durin’s Crossroads; and the road from the Twenty-First Hall to Durin’s Crossroads.
Durin’s Crossroads were built halfway across the mountain. The crossroads themselves are set on the level of the Second Deep, and were considered the Twenty-Second Hall. They were the meeting-point of three roads, which led to the Seventh Level, the Market-Hall, and the Endless Stair. Around these crossroads mines and a few housing districts sprung up. A fourth road led westwards. In this region many wells were dug, for a great underground lake and natural caverns existed under the Crossroads. Cave-trolls inhabited these caverns, which the Orcs of Azog discovered, and so they were named the Troll-Caves. At the end of the Third Age, Orcs too lived in these caves.
The western section of Moria was built mostly due to the elves of Eregion. This region was very winding and confusing, and had many forges, halls, markets, housing districts, mines, and pits. Many of the dwarves that lived here came from Nogrod or Belegost or were related to those who did. After the fall of Eregion, most of the dwarves of this section perished in battle, and the rest abandoned their halls. The Moria Orcs dug the Iron Pits among the mines here, and in their depths kept many prisoners and stores of armor and weapons. Many of the lower mines were flooded in this region.
The Endless Stair reached from the deepest dungeons to the highest tower, it once was said. The stair was very long and perilous, and many halls and mines came from it. It could only be accessed by a lost road from the Seventh Deep or from another road from Durin’s Crossroads. The former of these arrived at the very bottom of the Stair, where many dungeons and mines were made, while the other was slightly higher up. Halls and forges were found off the stair, but no dwarves lived here since the First Age. Eventually the stair became Durin’s Tower, a structure atop the peak of Celebdil, and the greatest monument to dwarven power. Durin’s Tower and the upper part of the Stair was destroyed by the Battle of the Peak.
From the road to the Endless Stair another road broke away, and led northeast. This road led deep under Caradhras, where many mines and forges had been built. The Redhorn Lodes were serviced by two halls and a series of living districts. The mines of Caradhras were long and rambling, and many now are lost. Deep under the mountain Durin’s Bane was discovered, and even when the dwarves returned under Durin VII they never delved that deep again.
Beneath Moria, beneath the deepest mines of the dwarves, were the Foundations of Stone. The Foundations were long and rambling, known only to the nameless terrors that lived down there, and to the Balrog. Down here were shadowed passages, subterranean lakes, and monstrous pits.