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Cirith Ungol

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Cirithungol-lee
Cirith Ungol
Background information
Type Fortress of Mordor
Location western Mordor in the Ephel Dúath[1]
Realms Mordor
Capital
Founded/Built Early Third Age ? (by Gondor)
Ruler Kings of Gondor, Ruling Stewards of Gondor, Dark Lord Sauron (last)
Other Information
Summary A former outpost of Gondor but better known as a fortress of Mordor.
Other names
Inhabitants Shelob, Orcs
Spoken languages Black Speech[2] Orcist
Lifespan early Third Age - March 25, 3019


"Its name was Cirith Ungol, a name of dreadful rumour."
The Two Towers, The Black Gate is Closed

Cirith Ungol was a pass or cleft through the Ephel Dúath near Minas Morgul. Shelob's lair was located there.

HistoryEdit

Under GondorEdit

Cirith Ungol passed through the western mountains of Mordor and paralleled the Morgul-road into Gondor to some degree. It was guarded by the Tower of Cirith Ungol, which was built by the Men of Gondor after the War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men was fought. It is not known whether the pass and the tower were called Cirith Ungol when the Men of Gondor held it, though it is likely since Shelob "...was there before Sauron, and before the first stone of Barad-dûr" was laid, and Cirith Ungol meant 'Spider's Cleft' in Sindarin.

The pass was reached by several sets of steep stairs leading from close by Minas Morgul along the north cliff-face of Morgul Vale and through a tunnel high in the mountains, with other steep stretches that lacked stairs. Eventually, the path ran straight into Shelob's lair, though many side-tunnels had been carved by Orcs and Men to get past her webs.[1][3][4]

Under SauronEdit

Gondor occupied the tower guarding the pass until TA 1636 when the Great Plague killed much of Gondor's population. After the Plague, Gondor again occupied Cirith Ungol but they were eventually distracted by the Wainriders, and evil was allowed to return to Mordor. The tower was likely occupied by evil forces before Minas Ithil was besieged in TA 2000.

During the Quest of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee were led to this pass by Gollum to the lair of the ancient spider Shelob. At this time, there were also three-headed creatures (statues?) that "watched" the entrance into Mordor and which could not be passed by mortals. Only through use of the Phial of Galadriel could the ring-bearer and his servant break these entities' will and enter Mordor.[5][6]

EtymologyEdit

The term Cirith Ungol is Sindarin for "Spider's cleft", from cirith ("cleft, pass") and ungol ("spider").[7]

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

Video GamesEdit

  • In Return of the King video game, you may play as Sam who has to kill 80 Orcs and then may progress to the tower where you fight Gorbag and rescue Frodo.

See alsoEdit

  • Nan Ungol, far south of Cirith Ungol in a corner of Mordor

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Atlas of Middle-earth, Regional Maps, "Mordor (and Adjacent Lands)"
  2. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Thematic Maps, "Languages"
  3. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings, "The Path of Cirith Ungol"
  4. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Lord of the Rings, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
  5. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter VIII: "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"
  6. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
  7. The Complete Guide to Middle-earth

External linkEdit

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