Shelob’s Lair ~ A Tunnel known as Torech Ungol

“Out of it came a stench… a foul reek, as if filth unnameable were piled and hoarded in the dark within.”


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TolkienCanon3Torech Ungol is a tunnel that runs through a final upthrusting of rock at the top of the hidden stair, forming a pass over the western side of the Mountains of Shadow. Under the darkness of this great wall of rock was the entrance to the tunnel. The ceiling of the passage was high and the ground beneath straight and even for the most part, though it ascended on a stiff slope.  It’s walls were smooth to the touch and were roughly six to eight feet across.

If one entered this tunnel without light, the darkness was complete. Only a few paces inside and you could wave your hands in front of your face and see nothing. It was a blackness so dense that all sound fell dead. Almost like a vapor it would envelope those who dared enter this ghastly labyrinth, and to breath that blackness was to dull the mind and confuse the senses. The air was still and stagnant; and the stench and feeling of peril so overpowering, it would make the traveler reel from the sense of lurking menace.

The tunnel had one main passageway the ran West to East through the mountain rock, though there were many smaller tunnels that branched off to the left and right. Near it’s end on the Eastern side, the tunnel forked into two large passage ways. To the left and and northward, the passage led led to the Tower of Cirith Ungol. It was barred with a half door of stone, with a secret latch to keep Shelob out. If you passed this door, you would find a gate of steel at the far end, so that none could pass into the fortress unheeded.

ShelobsLairEntranceThe main tunnel also branched to the left, directly East and ran out of an arched doorway onto a path that ran upwards to a cleft between two large horns of stone and over the mountains. In the cliffs above and to the left, the top most tier of the Tower of Cirith Ungol looked down upon the path from it’s high window. Both the Pass of Cirith Ungol and the Morgul Pass could be watched from it’s lofty height.

Other tunnels led deeper into the mountain rock and one of these was larger than all the rest. This opening was the source from which all of the terrible stench and lurking menace emanated. This way led deep into the mountain, down to Shelob’s Lair, where her prey could be hung from webs until they were ripe for eating.

Frodo and Sam, tricked by Gollum were led to the Tunnel were Shelob waited in the darkness.

“Some way ahead. a mile or so, perhaps, was a great grey wall, a last huge upthrusting of mountain-stone. Darker it loomed, and steadily it rose as they approached, until it towered up high above them, shutting out the view of all lat lay beyond. Deep shadow lay before it’s feet. Sam Sniffed the air.
‘Ugh! That smell!’ he said. ‘It’s getting stronger and stronger.’
Presently the were under the shadow, and there in the midst of it they saw the opening of a cave. ‘This the the way in,’ said Gollum softly. ‘This is the entrance to the tunnel.’ He did not speak it’s name: Torech Ungol, Shelob’s Lair. Out of it came the stench, not the sickly odor of decay in the meads of Morgul, but a foul reek, as it filth unnameable were piled and hoarded in the dark within.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘Shelob’s Lair’


The hobbits entered the terrible darkness of Torech Ungol.

“Drawling a deep breath they passed inside. In a few steps they were in utter and impenetrable dark. Not since the lightness passages of Moria had Frodo or Sam known such darkness, and if possible here is was deeper and denser. There, there were airs moving, and echoes, and a sense of space. Here the air was still, stagnant, heavy, and sound fell dead. They walked as is were in a black vapor wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought. Night always had been, and always would be, and night was all.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘Shelob’s Lair’


Finally in this deep darkness the came upon a passage from all the terrible stench came…

ShelobsLairGollum“Before they had gone very far, perhaps, but time and distance soon passed out of his reckoning, Sam, on his right , feeling the wall, was aware that there was an opening at the side: for a moment he caught a faint breathy of some air less heavy, and then they passed it by.
After that, first he on the right, and then Frodo on the left, passed three or four such openings, some wider, some smaller; but there was as yet no doubt of the main way, for it was straight, and did not turn; and went steadily up. But how long was it, how much more of this would they have to endure, or could they endure? The breathless-ness of the air was growing as they climbed; and now they seemed often in the blind dark to sense some resistance thicker then the foul air. As they thrust forward they felt things brush against their heads, or against their hands, long tentacles, or hanging growths perhaps: they could not tell what they were. And still the stench grew. It grew, until almost it seemed to them the smell was the only clear  sense left to them, and that was for their torment. One hour, two hours, three hours: how many had they passed in the lightless hole? Hours -days, weeks rather. Sam left the Tunnel-side and shrank towards Frodo, and their hands met and clasped, and so together they still went on.
At length, Frodo, groping along the left-hand wall, came suddenly to a void. Almost he fell sideways into the emptiness. Here was some opening in the rock far wider than any thy had yet passed; and out of it came a reek so foul, and a sense of lurking malice so intense, that Frodo reeled. And st the moment Sam too lurched and fell forward.”

From The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in the chapter ‘Shelob’s Lair’


Under the shadow, and there in the midst of it they saw the opening of a cave.


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 Posted by at 10:55 am