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Places in Middle-earth

Sarn Gebir

Type: Fords, Bridges, Crossings

Region: Gondor

Meaning: Stone-spikes

Other Names The Rapids

Location: Rapids on the Anduin River in the Emyn Muil, north of the Argonath.

Sarn Gebir 'Stone-spikes', name of rapids in Anduin above the Argonath, so called because of upright stake-like spikes of rock at their beginning.

Unfinished Tales, Index

[Said Celeborn,] 'Then I will furnish your Company with boats. They must be small and light, for if you go far by water, there are places where you will be forced to carry them. You will come to the rapids of Sarn Gebir, and maybe at last to the great falls of Rauros where the River thunders down from Nen Hithoel; and there are other perils. Boats may make your journey less toilsome for a while.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 8, Farewell to Lórien

Only a few yards ahead dark shapes loomed up in the stream and he heard the swirl of racing water. There was a swift current which swung left, towards the eastern shore where the channel was clear. As they were swept aside the travellers could see, now very close, the pale foam of the River lashing against sharp rocks that were thrust out far into the stream like a ridge of teeth. ...

'Hoy there, Aragorn!' shouted Boromir ... 'We cannot dare the Rapids by night! But no boat can live in Sarn Gebir, be it night or day.'

'Back, back!' cried Aragorn. 'Turn! Turn if you can!' ...

With great efforts they checked the boats and slowly brought them about; but at first they could make only small headway against the current, and all the time they were carried nearer and nearer to the eastern bank. ...

'All together, paddle!' shouted Boromir. 'Paddle! Or we shall be driven on the shoals.' Even as he spoke Frodo felt the keel beneath him grate upon stone. ...

Stroke by stroke they laboured on. ... slowly the swirl of the water grew less, and the shadow of the eastern bank faded back into the night. At last, as far as they could judge, they had ... driven their boats back some distance above the jutting rocks.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 9, The Great River

One by one Boromir and Aragorn carried the boats, while the others toiled and scrambled after them with the baggage. At last all was removed and laid on the portage-way. Then with little further hindrance ... they moved forward all together. ... to their left mist shrouded the River: they could hear it rushing and foaming over the sharp shelves and stony teeth of Sarn Gebir.... Twice they made the journey, before all was brought safe to the southern landing.

There the portage-way, turning back to the water-side, ran gently down to the shallow edge of a little pool. It seemed to have been scooped in the river-side, not by hand, but by the water swirling down from Sarn Gebir against a low pier of rock that jutted out some way into the stream. Beyond it the shore rose sheer into a grey cliff, and there was no further passage for those on foot.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 9, The Great River


[After 1 February 3017 III, Aragorn captures Gollum:]
According to Aragorn Gollum was taken at nightfall on February 1st. Hoping to escape detection by any of Sauron's spies he drove Gollum through the north end of the Emyn Muil, and crossed Anduin just above Sarn Gebir. Driftwood was often cast up there on the shoals by the east shore, and binding Gollum to a log he swam across with him, and continued his journey north by tracks as westerly as he could find....

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

[17 July 3018, while the Nine search for the Ring:]
The Lord of Morgul therefore led his companions over Anduin, unclad and unmounted, and invisible to eyes, and yet a terror to all living things that they passed near. ... They passed slowly and in stealth, through Anórien, and over the Entwade, and so into the Wold, and rumour of darkness and a dread of men knew not what went before them. They reached the west-shores of Anduin a little north of Sarn Gebir, as they had trysted; and there received horses and raiment that were secretly ferried over the River. ... Then they passed northward seeking for the Shire, the land of the Halflings.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

[23 February 3019, Fellowship Ambushed by Orcs at Sarn Gebir:]
At that moment there was a twang of bowstrings: several arrows whistled over them, and some fell among them. One smote Frodo between the shoulders and he lurched forward with a cry, letting go his paddle: but the arrow fell back, foiled by his hidden coat of mail. ... Sam thought he could glimpse black figures running to and fro upon the long shingle-banks that lay under the eastern shore. They seemed very near.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 9, The Great River

[23 February 3019, Legolas shoots the winged steed of a Nazgûl:]
'The Winged Messenger!' cried Legolas. 'I shot at him with the bow of Galadriel above Sarn Gebir, and I felled him from the sky.'

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 5, The White Rider


sarn '(small) stone' in Sarn Athrad (Sarn Ford on the Brandywine is a half-translation of this); also in Sarn Gebir ('stone-spikes': ceber, plural cebir 'stakes'), rapids in the river Anduin. A derivative is Serni, a river in Gondor.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 22Dec04

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