Menegroth, also known as the Thousand Caves and The Caves of Menegroth, was the capital city of the land of Doriath, which was home to King Thingol and Queen Melian of the Sindarin people during the First Age of the Sun.
Within it was the beautifully decorated Hall of Thingol where sat his throne and where he dispensed his judgments. It was there that Thingol was slain by the Dwarven craftsmen of Nogrod. The quest of Beren to gain a Silmaril begins at Menegroth. It is also here that Lúthien the fair was born. It was later sacked by the Sons of Fëanor in pursuit of one of the Silmarils taken from Morgoth's Iron Crown prior to the War of Wrath.
Years of the TreesEdit
In the years after the War for Sake of the Elves, the Teleri were scattered all over Beleriand in havens such as Falas or in the woodlands at Region and Neldoreth. Their leader Elwë disappeared for a long time in the woods with Melian, his beloved. Then, he and Melian reappeared calling himself Thingol, was urged to build a home for his people, so he had the Dwarves of Belegost to aid in the construction of a new fortress. It was dug into the western wall of the ravine above the river Esgalduin and had only one entrance high above the river accessible by a large stone bridge. It was named Menegroth or the Thousand Caves because of the extensive number of caverns and chambers within all hewn of stone and beautifully decorated with carvings of beech trees and birds. These were many different places including armories, treasures, smithies, and living quarters for both the Elves and Dwarves.
During the Years of the Trees, Doriath received peace for a long while as Thingol preferred isolation and ordered his people not to mingle in the affairs of the Noldor due to the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, and the Quenyan language was forbidden in his realm. Only with his kin in Nargothrond did Thingol remain in contact with. He did not take part in any of the later Battles of Beleriand relating to the struggle with Morgoth.
Sometime during mid First Age, Beren Erchamion asked Thingol's daughter, Lúthien, for her hand in marriage, but the King demanded that Beren was to go on a quest to retrieve a Silmaril from Morgoth's Iron Crown. Lúthien accompanied him on the quest to Angband and they succeeded in eventually retrieving the jewel; but the stakes were high. Carcharoth, a wolf guarding the Gates of Angband, bit off Beren's hand in which he was holding the Silmaril. The wolf ventured to Menegroth, ravaging the lands in his path, and broke through its boundaries. He was confronted by the brave Huan, the Great Hound of Valinor, on the north-east banks of Esgalduin and was killed in the brawl. The Silmaril was found in the wolf's stomach, after swallowing it in Beren's hand, and was given to King Thingol.
Sack of DoriathEdit
Years later, Hurin Thalion brought the famed Nauglamir as a gift to Thingol. Thingol contemplated a plan to set the Silmaril into the Nauglamir. He offered a reward to the Dwarven craftsmen of Nogrod if they succeeded in setting the stone into the Nauglamir. A great desire for the Silmaril possesed the Dwarves and they formed a greed to own both the jewel and the Nauglamir. They finished the work and subsequently claimed the treasure for themselves, slew Thingol, and fled Menegroth.
The news spread fast and the Dwarves were hunted for and then slain. Two escaped and and told a tale of lies about their betrayal and their brethren being slaughtered by the Elves. The Dwarves of Nogrod formed a great army and rose in anger at the elves and invaded the now unguarded Doriath. This led to the Battle of the Thousand Caves in which many were slain on both sides. Mablung, the leader of the guard, was slaughtered at the doors of the treasure chamber where the Nauglamir was held. The Dwarves of Nogrod were then waylaid at Sarn Athrad on their return by the Laiquendi led by Beren. Their King was slain by Beren in single combat and the remainder of their host were felled by Ents.
Lay of LeithianEdit
...through corridors of carven dread
whose turns were lit by lanterns hung
or flames from torches that were flung
on dragons hewn in the cold stone
with jewelled eyes and teeth of bone.
Then sudden, deep beneath the earth
the silences with silver mirth
were shaken and the rocks were ringing,
the birds of Melian were singing;
and wide the ways of shadows spread
as into arched halls she led
Beren in wonder. There a light
like day immortal and like night
of stars unclouded, shone and gleamed.
A vault of topless trees it seemed,
whose trunks of carven stone there stood
like towers of an enchanted wood
in magic fast for ever bound,
bearing a roof whose branches wound
in endless tracery of green
lit by some leaf-imprisoned sheen
of moon and sun, and wrought of gems,
and each leaf hung on golden stems.
Lo! there amid immortal flowers
the nightingales in shining bowers
sang o'er the head of Melian,
while water for ever dripped and ran
from fountains in the rocky floor.
There Thingol sat. His crown he wore
of green and silver, and round his chair
a host in gleaming armour fair...
- ―Lay of Leithian, lines 981-1011
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter IV: "Of Thingol and Melian"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter X: "Of the Sindar"
- ↑ The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Menegroth, the Thousand Caves"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIII: "Of the Return of the Noldor"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIX: "Of Beren and Lúthien"
- ↑ The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XVIII: "Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"