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Great Spiders

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Great Spiders
Name Great Spiders
Dominions Mordor, Mirkwood, Torech Ungol, Dol Guldur, Nan Dungortheb, Ered Gorgoroth, Nan Ungol
Languages Westron, Black Speech
Height Massive
Skin Color Dark
Hair Color None
Lifespan Unknown
Distinctions Gigantic, dark, arachnid-like traits, lethal, venomous
Members Ungoliant, Shelob, Saenathra (non-canon)

The Great Spiders, also known as the Spawn of Ungoliant, were a race of oversized and sentient arachnids that lived in Middle-Earth, particularly in dark and perilous places affected by the power of the Shadow.


The Great Spiders could speak to one another, though only those imbued with the power of (or derived from) the Ainur could understand them. Like Orcs and Goblins, Great Spiders were known to detest light, yet they thirsted for it and sought to devour it. Great Spiders comprise three separate known species.

Giant SpidersEdit

Giant Spiders were a sentient race of Great Spiders that lived in Middle-earth. They lived in the South of Middle-earth in the First Age, but by the Third Age they had spread to other areas including Mirkwood. They were descended from the spider-creatures of the Ered Gorgoroth. Giant Spiders infested the great forest of Greenwood the Great after the shadow of Sauron fell upon it and it became known as Mirkwood.

Umaiar spidersEdit

Next are the Umaiar spiders, a subspecies of Umaiar (and by extension a sub-subspecies of Maiar) which included Ungoliant. There are those Maiar who took the form of giant spiders upon joining Morgoth. Apart from Ungoliant (who died in an attempt to devour herself), the fate of this race is unknown.

Spawn of UngoliantEdit

The Spawn of Ungoliant are the third race of Great Spiders. This race was spawned by Ungoliant after she fled to the South. She mated with and devoured the mortal giant spiders who lived there. Because they were half Demon, these spiders were immortal; they were bigger, stronger and smarter than their mortal kin.


The first Dark Lord, Melkor, used Ungoliant to help him destroy the Two Trees of Valinor and steal the Silmarils.[1] Ungoliant, who had an insatiable desire to devour light, asked for the Silmarils to be given to her. Melkor refused and she attempted to kill him. Ungoliant was subsequently driven off by Melkor's Balrogs, and she ultimately wandered across Middle-earth, consuming anything that gave off light, such as gemstones; and often mated with other large spiders. Her offspring were a great bane on the world in later years. She was described as surrounded by "an aura of darkness". Her fate is unknown, but it is said that, always hungry, Ungoliant ended by devouring herself.[2]

Spiders Mirkwood

The Mirkwood spiders

The Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and his thirteen Dwarf companions encountered giant spiders in Mirkwood forest on their Quest to the Lonely Mountain. Only Bilbo's magic ring and an Elven blade (Sting) allowed them to escape being eaten.[3]


Frodo caught in Shelob's web, as depicted in the film.

Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee encountered Ungoliant's daughter, Shelob, in her lair as they were trying to enter Mordor during their quest to destroy the One Ring. Frodo was ambushed by the spider twice, and was paralyzed by her poison on the second encounter.[4] Sam used Sting to attack Shelob and wounded her, forcing her to flee the scene.[5] It is unknown whether she died from her wounds.

Influence of spiders in Tolkien's lifeEdit

Contrary to popular belief, the reason that Tolkien featured spiders so prominently in his stories was not because he was bitten by a tarantula when he was young, but rather because his son was afraid of them.

Portrayal in adaptationsEdit



Mirkwood Spiders crawling over Radagast's home.

Video GamesEdit


An image showing the giant spider Saenathra from the War in the North Game adaption

LEGO: The Lord of the RingsEdit

In the LEGO: The Lord of the Rings Video Game the player must go through Shelob's Lair and kill at least six small spiders with Sauron's mark on their back.

The Lord of the Rings MINECRAFTEdit

In the Lord of the Rings Minecraft mod there are multiple Spider Spawners.

1. Mordor Spider 2. Utumno Spider 3. Utumno Ice Spider 4. Utumno Fire Spider

Translations around the WorldEdit

Foreign Language Translated name
Chinese (Hong Kong) 巨形蜘蛛

Behind the scenesEdit

Games WorkshopEdit

On the Website they have Giant Spiders but with two which means this is not a pack. These spiders look like either Shelob or a Spiderling but they have to their side the Spider Queen & Swarm. They have many colors like in the photo (most people painted these spiders differently). Today they cost £8.20 & are available online and in stores.


Races of the Creatures of Arda
Good Races:

Ainur | Dwarves | Ents | Hobbits | Men | Elves | Great Eagles

Evil Races:

Dragons | Balrogs | Orcs | Uruk-hai | Wargs | Werewolves | Trolls | Giant Spiders


  1. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter VIII: "Of the Darkening of Valinor"
  2. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IX: "Of the Flight of the Noldor"
  3. The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: "Flies and Spiders"
  4. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
  5. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter X: "The Choices of Master Samwise"

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