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Places in Middle-earth

Secret Entrance to Erebor, The

Type: Other Constructions

Region: Rhovanion/Misty Mtns

Other Names
the secret door
the enchanted door
the (private) Side-door
the secret passage
the hidden passage

Location: A hidden door and passageway leading into the lower halls of the Lonely Mountain.

Description: On the table ... [Gandalf] spread a piece of parchment rather like a map.

'This was made by Thror, your grandfather, Thorin.... 'It is a plan of the Mountain. ... that is the secret entrance. You see that rune on the West side, and the hand pointing to it from the other runes? That marks a hidden passage to the Lower Halls.'

'It may have been secret once,' said Thorin, 'but how do we know that it is secret any longer? Old Smaug had lived there long enough now to find out anything there is to know about those caves.'

'He may -- but he can't have used it for years and years. ... Because it is too small. "Five feet high the door and three may walk abreast" say the runes, but Smaug could not creep into a hole that size....'

'It seems a great big hole to me,' squeaked Bilbo ... 'How could such a large door be kept secret from everybody outside, apart from the dragon?' he asked. ...

'In lots of ways,' said Gandalf. '... From what it says on the map I should guess there is a closed door which has been made to look exactly like the side of the Mountain. That is the usual dwarves' method....' ...

'Also,' went on Gandalf, 'I forgot to mention that with the map went a key.... Here it is!'....

The Hobbit, Ch 1, An Unexpected Party

The Dwarves Thrór and his son Thráin (together with Thráin's son Thorin, afterwards called Oakenshield) escaped from the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) by a secret door when the dragon Smaug descended upon it.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 3, The Quest of Erebor

... they turned into a little steep-walled bay, grassy-floored, still and quiet. Its entrance which they had found could not be seen from below because of the overhang of the cliff, nor from further off because it was so small that it looked like a dark crack and no more. It was not a cave and was open to the sky above; but at its inner end a flat wall rose up that in the lower part, close to the ground, was as smooth and upright as mason's work, but without a joint or crevice to be seen. No sign was there of post or lintel or threshold, nor any sign of bar or bolt or key-hole; yet they did not doubt that they had found the door at last.

They beat on it, they thrust and pushed at it, they implored it to move, they spoke fragments of broken spells of opening, and nothing stirred.

The Hobbit, Ch 11, On the Doorstep

Then suddenly when their hope was lowest a red ray of the sun escaped like a finger through a rent in the cloud. A gleam of light came straight through the opening into the bay and fell on the smooth rock-face. ... There was a loud crack. A flake of rock split from the wall and fell. A hole appeared suddenly about three feet from the ground. Quickly, trembling lest the chance should fade, the dwarves rushed to the rock and pushed -- in vain. ...

Then Thorin stepped up and drew the key on its chain from round his neck. He put it to the hole. It ... turned! ...

Now they all pushed together, and slowly a part of the rock-wall gave way. Long straight cracks appeared and widened. A door five feet high and three broad was outlined, and slowly without a sound swung inwards. ... deep darkness in which nothing could be seen lay before their eyes, a yawning mouth leading in and down.

The Hobbit, Ch 11, On the Doorstep

... the hobbit crept through the enchanted door and stole into the Mountain. It was far easier going than he expected. ... It was a passage made by dwarves, at the height of their wealth and skill: straight as a ruler, smooth-floored and smooth-sided, going with a gentle never-varying slope direct -- to some distant end in the blackness below.

After a while Balin ... stopped where he could still see the faint outline of the door, and by a trick of the echoes of the tunnel hear the rustle of the whispering voices of the others just outside. Then the hobbit slipped on his ring, and ... crept noiselessly ... down into the dark. ...

He ... went still on and on, till all sign of the door behind had faded away. ... As he went forward [a glow] grew.... It was a red light steadily getting redder.... Also it was now undoubtedly hot in the tunnel. Wisps of vapour floated up ... and he began to sweat. A sound, too, began to throb in his ears.... This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there ...

[You] can picture him coming to the end of the tunnel, an opening of much the same size and shape as the door above. ... Before him lies the great bottommost cellar or dungeon-hall of the ancient dwarves right at the Mountain's root. It is almost dark ... but rising from the near side of the rocky floor there is a great glow. The glow of Smaug!

The Hobbit, Ch 12, Inside Information

So several of the dwarves got up and groped back to where the door had been. But they found that the upper end of the tunnel had been shattered and blocked with broken rock. Neither key nor the magic it had once obeyed would ever open that door again.

The Hobbit, Ch 13, Not At Home

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 27Sep05, 6Oct05

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