HASA Resources

Places in Middle-earth

Paths of the Dead

Type: Valleys, Caves, Tunnels

Region: Other Middle-earth

Other Names the haunted road

Location: A tunnel underneath the White Mountains, domain of the Dead Men of Dunharrow; extends from above Dunharrow in Rohan southward under the Dwimorberg to Morthond Vale in Gondor; the source of the Morthond (Blackroot) River.

Description:

Now [the Paths of the Dead] was a way beneath the White Mountains of Gondor that no man dared to tread, because of the fell wraiths of the Forgotten Men that guarded it.

The Peoples of Middle-earth, HoME Vol 12, Part 1, Ch 9, The Making of Appendix A: The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen

'Twice now, lord, I have heard of the Paths of the Dead,' [Merry] said. 'What are they?'....

[At] last Éomer spoke... '[You] have yourself walked on their first steps.... The road that we have climbed is the approach to the Door, yonder in the Dimholt. But what lies beyond no man knows.'

'No man knows,' said Théoden: 'yet ancient legend, now seldom spoken, has somewhat to report. If these old tales speak true that have come down from father to son in the House of Eorl, then the Door under Dwimorberg leads to a secret way that goes beneath the mountain to some forgotten end. But none have ever ventured in to search its secrets, since Baldor, son of Brego, passed the Door and was never seen among men again....

'Folk say that Dead Men out of the Dark Years guard the way and will suffer no living man to come to their hidden halls....'

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

[They] passed into the shadows under the black Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain, in which was the Gate of the Dead....

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

A dread fell on them, even as they passed between the lines of ancient stones and so came to the Dimholt. There under the gloom of black trees... they found a hollow place opening at the mountain's root, and right in their path stood a single mighty stone like a finger of doom....

The horses would not pass the threatening stone, until the riders dismounted and led them about. And so they came at last deep into the glen; and there stood a sheer wall of rock, and in the wall the Dark Door gaped before them.... Signs and figures were carved above its wide arch too dim to read, and fear flowed from it like a grey vapour....

Then Aragorn led the way, and such was the strength of his will in that hour that all the Dúnedain and their horses followed him....

[It] seemed to [Gimli] that he dragged his feet like lead over the threshold; and at once a blindness came upon him, even upon Gimli Glóin's son who had walked unafraid in many deep places of the world....

He could see nothing but the dim flame of the torches....

Nothing assailed the company nor withstood their passage, and yet steadily fear grew on the Dwarf as he went on...; all the paths behind were thronged by an unseen host that followed in the dark....

The road was wide, as far as he could judge, but now the company came suddenly into a great empty space, and there were no longer any walls upon either side.

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

Suddenly [Gimli] heard the tinkle of water.... [The] company passed through another gateway, high-arched and broad, and a rill ran out beside them; and beyond, going steeply down, was a road between sheer cliffs, knife-edged against the sky far above....

The Company came at last out of the ravine...; and there lay the uplands of a great vale before them....

'Where in Middle-earth are we?' said Gimli; and Elladan answered: 'We have descended from the uprising of the Morthond, the long chill river that flows at last to the sea that washes the walls of Dol Amroth. You will not need to ask hereafter how comes its name: Blackroot men call it.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 5, Ch 2, The Passing of the Grey Company

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 22Dec04, 5Feb05, 29Nov07

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