HASA Resources

Places in Middle-earth

Harrowdale

Type: Valleys, Caves, Tunnels

Region: Rohan

Location: A great valley in the White Mountains of Rohan through which the Snowbourn flows; Edoras sits on a hill at the eastern side of its mouth; the head of the valley lies below the Firienfeld and the refuge of Dunharrow.

Description: Before them stood the mountains of the South: white-tipped and streaked with black. The grass-lands rolled against the hills that clustered at their feet, and flowed up into many valleys ... winding their way into the heart of the great mountains. Immediately before the travellers the widest of these glens opened like a long gulf among the hills. Far inward they glimpsed a tumbled mountain-mass with one tall peak; at the mouth of the vale there stood like sentinel a lonely height. About its feet there flowed, as a thread of silver, the stream that issued from the dale; upon its brow they caught, still far away, a glint in the rising sun, a glimmer of gold.

The Two Towers, LoTR Book 3, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

... far below them a leaping stream had run down from the high pass behind, cleaving its narrow way between pine-clad walls; and now through a stony gate it flowed out and passed into a wider vale. The Riders followed it, and suddenly Harrowdale lay before them, loud with the noise of waters in the evening. There the white Snowbourn, joined by the lesser stream, went rushing, fuming on the stones, down to Edoras and the green hills and the plains. Away to the right at the head of the great dale the mighty Starkhorn loomed up above its vast buttresses swathed in cloud....

Merry ... saw only ever-mounting slopes, great walls of stone behind great walls, and frowning precipices wreathed with mist. ...

The paths out of the narrow gorge fell steeply. Only a glimpse, as through a tall window, could be seen of the great valley in the gloaming below. ...

In the deepening dusk they came down into the valley. Here the Snowbourn flowed near to the western walls of the dale, and soon the path led them to a ford where the shallow waters murmured loudly on the stones. ...

... as soon as [Théoden's] coming was known captains rode to meet him at the ford.... Dúnhere, chieftain of the folk of Harrowdale, was at their head. ...

The road [to Dunharrow] now led eastward straight across the valley, which was at that point little more than half a mile in width. Flats and meads of rough grass, grey now in the falling night, lay all about, but in front on the far side of the dale Merry saw a frowning wall, a last outlier of the great roots of the Starkhorn, cloven by the river in ages past. ...

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

On down the grey road they went beside the Snowbourn rushing on its stones; through the hamlets of Underharrow and Upbourn....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

[Said Théoden,] 'Folk say that Dead Men out of the Dark Years guard the [Paths of the Dead] and will suffer no living man to come to their hidden halls; but at whiles they may themselves be seen passing out of the door like shadows and down the stony road. Then the people of Harrowdale shut fast their doors and shroud their windows and are afraid.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 3, The Muster of Rohan

Etymology

... Cf. my father's note on Dunharrow in the Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings (A Tolkien Compass, ed. Lobdell, p. 183): 'Dunharrow. A modernisation of Rohan Dunhaerg "the heathen fane on the hillside", so-called because this refuge of the Rohirrim at the head of Harrowdale was on the site of a sacred place of the old inhabitants (now the Dead Men). The element haerg can be modernised in English because it remains an element in place-names, notably Harrow (on the Hill).'

The War of the Ring, HoME Vol 8, Part 3, Ch 2, Book Five Begun and Abandoned: Notes, Note 35

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 22Dec04, 20Jan05

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