HASA Resources

Places in Middle-earth

Orthanc

Type: Fortresses, Towers, Defenses

Region: Other Middle-earth

Meaning: Mount Fang

Other Names ...in the Elvish speech orthanc signifies Mount Fang, but in the language of the Mark of old the Cunning Mind.
TTT, Book III, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

Location: Orthanc is the central tower in Isengard which lies close to the southern edge of the Misty Mountains in the Wizard's Vale (Nan Curunír).

Description: There stood a tower of marvellous shape. It was fashioned by the builders of old, who smoothed the Ring of Isengard, and yet it seemed a thing not made by the craft of Men, but riven from the bones of the earth in the ancient torment of the hills. A peak and isle of rock it was, black and gleaming hard: four mighty piers of many-sided stone were welded into one, but near the summit they opened into gaping horns. their pinnacles sharp as the points of spears, keen-edged as knives. Between them was a narrow space, and there upon a floor of polished stone, written with strange signs, a man might stand five hundred feet above the plain. This was Orthanc…
TTT, Book III, Ch 8, The Road to Isengard

They came now to the foot of Orthanc. It was black, and the rock gleamed as if it were wet. The many faces of the stone had sharp edges as though they had been newly chiselled. A few scorings, and small flake-like splinters near the base, were all the marks that it bore of the fury of the Ents.
On the eastern side, in the angle of two piers, there was a great door, high above the ground; and over it was a shuttered window, opening upon a balcony hedged with iron bars. Up to the threshold of the door there mounted a flight of twenty-seven broad stairs, hewn by some unknown art of the same black stone. This was the only entrance to the tower; but many tall windows were cut with deep embrasures in the climbing walls: far up they peered like little eyes in the sheer faces of the horns.
TTT, Book III, Ch 10, The Voice of Saruman

'They took me and they set me alone on the pinnacle of Orthanc, in the place where Saruman was accustomed to watch the stars. There is no descent save by a narrow stair of many thousand steps, and the valley below seems far away. I looked on it and saw that ... it was now filled with pits and forges. ... Over all his works a dark smoke hung and wrapped itself about the sides of Orthanc. I stood alone on an island in the clouds; and I had no chance of escape, ... and I had but little room in which to pace to and fro....'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

Contributors: Lyllyn 6.18.03
added quote: Elena Tiriel 14Feb05

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