Tolkien's original map of the Dark Land in relation to the rest of Arda during the First Age

(See also Mordor, the dwelling place of Sauron which bears a name that means "Dark Land".)

The Dark Land, also referred to as the South Land, was a continent that lay southeast of where the events of the The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings occurred.


The Dark Land was created as a byproduct of the War for Sake of the Elves, in which the Valar overthrew Melkor in his original fortress of Utumno.[1] Originally, Middle-earth was one landmass, set between the western sea of Belegaer and the East Sea.[2] This changed during the War, when the inland Sea of Ringil, originally landlocked and set in the mid-south of Middle-earth, grew in size and "became a great sea flowing north-eastward and joining by straights both the Western and Eastern Seas."[3] This event split Middle-earth into two landmasses; the landmass to the south and east of the former Sea of Ringil (which was also called the "East Sea" by Tolkien) was known as the Dark Land.[4]

No habitations in the Dark Land were ever recorded. The Númenóreans might have visited it on their long eastward journeys. If so, it is not known whether they established dwellings there.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit

In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad interprets the continent as being covered by vast dense forests bordering much of its shorelines.[5][6]

In the game Middle Earth Role Play by Iron Crown Enterprises, a Quenya name for the Dark Land—Mórenorë ("Dark Land")—was given, although it does not appear in any of Tolkien's writings; the name Hyarmenor, "south-land" is given instead in Tolkien's works (as seen in The History of Middle-earth).

Behind the scenesEdit

Before Africa was visited by people from Europe, it was known as the "Dark Land". It is possible that Tolkien was inspired by this; also, he was born in South Africa. However, the continent directly south of Gondor where Harad was located (possibly corresponding with the Sahara Desert, as they are similar in position) is closer in shape to Africa, as well as being the proper distance away from northwest Middle-earth (if northwest Middle-earth is taken to be Europe and Rhûn is taken to be Asia).

As seen in the Ambarkanta, Dark Land occupies a position in Arda much like Antarctica and Australia do compared to Eurasia, if Antarctica and Australia were one landmass.

Some fans have speculated that this land may have become the southern portion of the New Lands at the end of the Second Age (the Land of the Sun being the northern portion).

Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:


Dunland | Ithilien | Rohan | Arnor | Ettenmoors | Gondor | Lindon | Minhiriath | Rhûn | The Shire | Mordor | Harad | Forochel

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Old Forest | Redhorn Pass | Tower Hills | Weather Hills


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost | Helm's Deep | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Osgiliath | Rivendell | Umbar | Utumno


Cair Andros | Gap of Rohan | Grey Havens | Buckland | Enedwaith | Dagorlad | Dead Marshes | Fords of Isen | Weathertop | Argonath

The rest of Arda:

Númenor | Dark Land | Aman (Valinor) | Tol Eressëa


  1. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition, pp. 293-294, 304-305
  2. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", Map IV
  3. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition, pp. 293-294, 305
  4. The History of Middle-earth, Vol. IV: The Shaping of Middle-earth, chapter V: "The Ambarkanta", First Ballantine Books Edition, p. 305, Map V
  5. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction"
  6. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Second Age, "Introduction"

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