The ancient watchtower upon the Lonely Mountain
“This very height was once named Ravenhill, because there was a wise and famous pair,
old Carc and his wife, that lived here above the guard chamber.”
The Hobbit C15
Ravenhill lay upon an arm of the Lonely Mountain, west of the Gate of Erebor. It stood at the end of a ridge of high ground, that extended southwards from the mountain and overlooked the River Running as it wound through the valley of Dale.
The Dwarves of Erebor built a guard-post on the hill, which was about a five hour march from the Front Gate. Ravenhill was so named, because the hilltop was home to Ravens, that nested in the rocks along the ridge. They became good friends to the dwarves and were used to send messages to Dale and Esgaroth.
Because of it’s position over looking the valley, the tower on Ravenhill became a strategic location during the Battle of the Five Armies. Some believe that Azog, who may well have survived the Battle of Azanulbizar and was not killed by Dain Ironfoot in Moria as many had thought, but lived on to participate in the Battle of the Five Armies. Whispered tales tell that Azog might also have been given new life by the Necromancer, who was in truth Sauron and that he and his son Bolg, might have used Ravenhill to command the armies that marched on the Lonely Mountain. There are differing accounts of this most famous of Battles in Middle-earth. Many believe, that not only the Goblins of the Misty Mountains and the Orcs of Mount Gundabad fought there, but that the Necromancer revealed as the Dark Lord Sauron, also sent Uruks to fight from the Ruins of Dol Guldur. One must remember, that Bilbo’s account of the fighting at Erebor, in the Red Book of the Westmarch was incomplete, because he had missed most of the ensuing battle.
Thorin Oakenshield, Bilbo and the company or dwarves camped on Ravenhill, after coming up the River Running from Lake-town.
They reached the skirts of the Mountain all the same without meeting any danger of any sign of the Dragon other than the wilderness he had made about his lair. The Mountain lay dark and silent before them and ever higher above them. They made their camp on the western side of the great southern spur, which ended in a height called Ravenhill. On this there had been an old watch-post; but they dared not climb it yet, it was too exposed.
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘On the Doorstep’
The Dwarves and Bilbo left the darkness of Erebor behind them as they exited the ruins of the Front Gate, still unaware that the Dragon was already dead.
“Quite right!” said Balin. ” And I think I know which way we should go: we ought to make for the old look-out post at the South-West corner of the Mountain.”
“How far is that?” asked the Hobbit?
“Five hours march, I should think. It will be rough going. The road from the Gate along the left edge of the stream seems all broken up. But look down there! The river loops suddenly east across Dale in front of the ruined town. At that point there was once a bridge, leading to steep stairs that climbed up the right bank, and so to a road running toward Ravenhill. There is (or was) a path that left the road and climbed up to the post. A hard climb, too, even if the old steps are still there.”
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘Not at Home’
Bilbo watched the terrible battle unfold before him in the valley of Dale…
On all of this Bilbo looked with misery. He had taken his stand on Ravenhill among the Elves – partly because there was more chance of escape from that point, and partly (with the more Tookish part of his mind) because if he was going to be in a last desperate stand, he preferred on the whole to defend the Elvenking. Gandalf, too, I may say, was there, sitting on the ground as if deep in thought, preparing, I suppose, some last blast of magic before the end.
That does not seem far off. “It will not be long now,” thought Bilbo, “before the goblins win the Gate, and we are all slaughtered or driven down and captured. Really it is enough to make one weep, after all one has been through. I would rather old Smaug had been left with all the wretched treasure, than these vile creatures should get it, and poor old Bombur, and Balin and Fili and Kili and all the rest come to a bad end; and Bard too, and the Lake-men and the merry elves. Misery me! I have heard song of many battles, and I have always understood the defeat may be glorious. it seems very uncomfortable, not to say distressing. I wish I was well out of it.”
The clouds were torn by the wind, and a red sunset slashed the West. Seeing the sudden gleam in the gloom Bilbo looked round. he gave a great cry: he had seen a sight the made his heart leap, dark shapes small yet majestic against the distant glow.
“The Eagles! The Eagles!” he shouted. “The Eagles are coming!”
Bilbo’s eye were seldom wrong. The eagles were coming down the wind, line after line, in such a host as must have gathered from all the eyries of the North.
“The Eagles! the Eagles!” Bilbo dried, dancing and waving his arms. If the elves could not see him they could could hear him. Soon they too took up the cry, and it echoed across the valley. Many wondering eye looked up, though nothing could yet be seen except from the southern shoulders of the Mountain.
“The Eagles!’ cried Bilbo once more, but at that moment a stone hurtling from above smote heavily on his helm, and he fell with a crash and knew no more.
From The Hobbit in the chapter ‘The Clouds Burst’