- "Fornost, the capital of Men and seat of Isildur´s heirs. More than that, it is a symbol to Men"
- —The Witch-King of Angmar in the Rise of the Witch King
Fornost, also known fully as Fornost Erain (Sindarin 'Northern fortress of the Kings' from for(n) (north) + ost (fortress); Norbury of the Kings or simply Norbury in Westron), was a city in Eriador of the kingdom of Arnor. It was located at the south end of the North Downs, about 100 Númenórean miles north of Bree. It was eventually abandoned and fell into ruin, and became popularly known as Deadmen's Dike. At the time of the events of The Lord of the Rings (TA 3018 – 3019), Fornost had been abandoned for about a thousand years, and "even the ruins of Kings' Norbury were covered with grass."
It is not known when Fornost was founded or when the Kings of Arnor moved there from Annúminas. In TA 861, when King Eärendur died, Arnor was divided into three kingdoms, Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur. Eärendur's eldest son, Amlaith, who became King of Arthedain, had the epithet, "of Fornost," suggesting that Fornost immediately served as the capital of Arthedain; it may have also been the capital of Arnor before the partition.
Fornost was located along the southernmost edge of the North Downs. As a military fortress, it served to guard the gap between the North Downs and the Weather Hills against incursions by the forces of Rhudaur or Angmar. The Palantir of Annúminas may have eventually been relocated to Fornost; that of Amon Sûl was taken to Fornost when the Tower of Amon Sûl fell to the Witch-king's forces in TA 1409.
Early in TA 1974, Fornost, along with the rest of Arthedain, fell to a full-scale invasion from Angmar, and most of its inhabitants were killed or driven over the Lune. King Arvedui, after resisting for a time on the nearby North Downs, fled into the northern wastes and was eventually lost in the Ice-Bay of Forochel. The Witch-king then set up his residence in Fornost, and populated the city with "evil folk". The next year, a fleet from Gondor, led by Eärnur, landed at Mithlond. Along with allies from Lindon, Rivendell and the former territories of Arnor, they defeated the Witch-king of Angmar on the plains west of Fornost; though he escaped, Angmar's army was utterly destroyed.
At the end of the war, the northern Dúnedain, now led by Arvedui's son Aranarth, were too few in number to rebuild their nation or maintain cities. Fornost was not resettled, and gradually fell into ruin. The Dúnedain, who became a secretive and wandering people known in Eriador as Rangers, visited Fornost, but most other folk avoided the ruined city; the Men of Eriador called it "Deadmen's Dike" and many believed it to be haunted.
Portrayal in AdaptationsEdit
Several video games have depicted Fornost so far. The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king features it as a site of battle during the Witch-King's campaign. The Lord of the Rings Online depicts Fornost as overrun by Angmar's forces in TA 3018, players are encouraged to fight through the city and cleanse it of the Servants of the enemy. In The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Fornost is where Sauron's lieutenant, Agandaur, made a deal with the Witch-King of Angmar to help conquer Middle-Earth with Orcs he gathered in the North, until a small band of free peoples (Elladan, Elrohir, Eradan, Andriel, Farin and Beleram) forces him to flee.
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