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Places in Middle-earth

Great West Road, The

Type: Roads, Lanes, Ways

Region: Rohan

Other Names
The West Road
The Great Road
The North-way
the horse-road

Location: The major road running through Rohan and Gondor, from the Fords of Isen to Minas Tirith; a segment of the Great North-South Road — see that entry for a description and history of the other segments.

Table of Contents:


It [the great West Road] was the great Númenórean road linking the Two Kingdoms, crossing the Isen at the Fords of Isen and the Greyflood at Tharbad and then on northwards to Fornost; elsewhere called the North-South Road.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 32

Roads ... The great Númenórean road linking the Two Kingdoms, by Tharbad and the Fords of Isen; called the North-South Road ... and (east of the Fords of Isen) the West Road ...

Unfinished Tales, Index

I [Christopher Tolkien] have thought it desirable to mark in the entire length of the Great Road linking Arnor and Gondor, although its course between Edoras and the Fords of Isen is conjectural....

Unfinished Tales, Introduction

The Halifirien was the highest of the beacons ... its outer slopes, especially northwards, were long and nowhere steep.... As they descended the trees became ever more dense, especially along the Mering Stream ... and northwards out into the plain through which the Stream flowed into the Entwash. The great West Road passed through a long cutting in the wood, to avoid the wet land beyond its northern eaves; but this road had been made in ancient days, and after the departure of Isildur no tree was ever felled in the Firien Wood, except only by the Beacon-wardens whose task it was to keep open the great road ...

... the line of the Mering Stream was fortified (between the impassable marshes of its confluence with the Entwash and the bridge where the Road passed westward out of the Firien Wood)...

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Cirion and Eorl


[1-2 III, after the Last Alliance:]
After the fall of Sauron, Isildur ... returned to Gondor. ... but the greater part of the army of Arnor returned to Eriador by the Númenórean road from the Fords of Isen to Fornost.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

[Early Third Age:]
[Pipe-weed] grows abundantly in Gondor ... From that land it must have been carried up the Greenway [to the Shire] during the long centuries between the coming of Elendil and our own day.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Pipe-weed

[2510, at time of the Gift of Cirion and the Oath of Eorl:]
It was agreed also that the Great Road which had formerly run through Anórien and Calenardhon to Athrad Angren (the Fords of Isen), and thence northwards on its way to Arnor, should be open to all travellers of either people without hindrance in time of peace, and its maintenance should from the Mering Stream to the Fords of Isen be in the care of the Éothéod.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Cirion and Eorl

[2758, the Invasion of Rohan from West and East:]
... Rohan was again invaded from the East, and the Dunlendings seeing their chance came over the Isen ... Wulf was their leader. ...

The Rohirrim were defeated and their land was overrun.... Helm was driven back with great loss from the Crossings of Isen ... Wulf took Edoras and sat in Meduseld and called himself king.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

[Spring 2759, when Gondor sends aid after the Invasion of Rohan from West and East:]
Soon after the winter broke. ... there came help at last from Gondor, by the roads both east and west of the mountains. Before the year (2759) was ended the Dunlendings were driven out....

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix A, Annals of the Kings and Rulers: The House of Eorl

[25 February-2 March 3019, the Battles of the Fords of Isen:]
Elfhelm had been riding in haste along the horse-road from Edoras, leading four companies in answer to Théodred's summons; he was expecting battle, but not yet.... But near the junction of the horse-road with the road down from the Deeping his outriders on the right flank reported that two wolfriders had been seen abroad on the fields. Sensing that things were amiss, he ... rode with all speed towards the Fords. The horse-road turned north-west after its meeting with the Deeping-road, but again bent sharply west when level with the Fords, which it approached by a straight path of some two miles long. Elfhelm thus heard and saw nothing of the fighting between the retreating garrison and the Uruks south of the Fords. The sun had sunk and light was failing when he drew near the last bend in the road, and there encountered some horses running wild and a few fugitives who told him of the disaster. Though his men and horses were now weary he rode as fast as he could along the straight, and as he came in sight of the east bank he ordered his companies to charge.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 5, The Battles of the Fords of Isen

[14 March 3019, the Ride of the Rohirrim to the Battle of the Pelennor:]
[The Rohirrim] were less than a day's ride from the out-walls of Minas Tirith that encircled the townlands. Scouts had been sent ahead. Some had not returned. Others hastening back had reported that the road was held in force against them. A host of the enemy was encamped upon it, three miles west of Amon Dîn, and some strength of men was already thrusting along the road and was no more than three leagues away. Orcs were roving in the hills and woods along the roadside.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 5, The Ride of the Rohirrim

[16-17 March 3019, the Rohirrim rout Sauron's forces from Anórien:]
But the main strength of the Rohirrim that remained horsed and able to fight, some three thousand under the command of Elfhelm, should waylay the West Road against the enemy that was in Anórien.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 9, The Last Debate

[Mid-year's Day 3019, the wedding of Elessar and Arwen:]
Upon the very Eve of Midsummer, when the sky was blue as sapphire and white stars opened in the East, but the West was still golden and the air was cool and fragrant, the riders came down the North-way to the gates of Minas Tirith. ... last came Master Elrond, mighty among Elves and Men, bearing the sceptre of Annúminas, and beside him upon a grey palfrey rode Arwen his daughter, Evenstar of her people.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, The Steward and the King

Contributors: ~Nessime 25May04
Elena Tiriel 27Sep04, 2Oct04, 5Jan05

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