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Places in Middle-earth


Type: Cities, Towns, Settlements

Region: Other Middle-earth

Location: Where the Old South Road crosses the Greyflood (Gwathló) River. It is a little way (about 10 to 15 miles) south of Swanfleet (Nîn-in-Eilph), the marshlands where the River Glanduin joins the Hoarwell.

Description: ...with long labour a port capable of receiving seagoing vessels had been made at Tharbad, and a fort raised there on great earthworks on both sides of the river, to guard the once famed Bridge of Tharbad.
But later they penetrated northward as far as the beginning of the great fenlands; though it was still long before they had the need or sufficient men to undertake the great works of drainage and dyke-building that made a great port on the site where Tharbad stood in the days of the Two Kingdoms.

...Enedwaith... belonged to neither kingdom and received no permanent settlements of men of Númenórean origin. But the great North-South Road, which was the chief route of communication between the Two Kingdoms except by sea, ran through it from Tharbad to the Fords of Isen (Ethraid Engrin). Before the decay of the North Kingdom and the disasters that befell Gondor, indeed until the coming of the Great Plague in Third Age 1636, both kingdoms shared an interest in this region, and together built and maintained the Bridge of Tharbad and the long causeways that carried the road to it on either side of the Gwathló and Mitheithel across the fens in the plains of Minhiriath and Enedwaith. * A considerable garrison of soldiers, mariners and engineers had been kept there until the seventeenth century of the Third Age. But from then onwards the region fell quickly into decay; and long before the time of The Lord of the Rings had gone back into wild fenlands. When Boromir made his great journey from Gondor to Rivendell – the courage and hardihood required is not fully recognized in the narrative—the North-South Road no longer existed except for the crumbling remains of the causeways, by which a hazardous approach to Tharbad might be achieved, only to find ruins on dwindling mounds, and a dangerous ford formed by the ruins of the bridge, impassable if the river had not been there slow and shallow – but wide.
Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch IV, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Appendix D, 'The Port Of Lond Daer '

The Gwathló, however, never became swift, and ships of smaller draught could without difficulty sail or be rowed as far as Tharbad. Unfinished Tales, Part 2, Ch IV, The History of Galadriel and Celeborn, Appendix C, 'The Boundaries Of Lórien'


thar- 'athwart, across' in Sarn Athrad, Thargelion; also in Tharbad (from thara-pata 'crossway') where the ancient road from Arnor and Gondor crossed the Greyflood.

The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names

Contributors: Lyllyn 6.06.03
Etymology: Elena Tiriel 24Aug05

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