Nan Dungortheb or the No Land was the name of the wilderness south of Ered Gorgoroth and Dorthonion, east of Dimbar and the river Mindeb, west of Dor Dínen and the Esgalduin, and north of Neldoreth and Doriath.


Before Ungoliant, Nan Dungortheb was probably just another peaceful land of the Beleriand. The land's name was inspired by Ungoliant, who resided there after escaping the Balrogs of Morgoth and Lammoth. It is also named for its proximity to the Ered Gorgoroth, where Ungoliant's spider-like children, along with their many lesser fathers from the Mountains of Terror, haunted the deep vales of the mountains and its closeness to the shadowy webs of the Girdle of Melian.[1]

The region was a perilous land of fear to travel through, as the waters were polluted by the darkness produced from the webs of Ungoliant's children, and because of the chaos caused by the conflicting powers of Ungoliant's demonic offspring, Sauron's malevolent sorcery, and the maze-like defenses of the Girdle of Melian. All who foolish enough to drink from its waters were filled with madness and thoughts of despair.

No one would travel through there unless they had no choice or were lost and the Eldar, Edain, and even Morgoth's own armies largely bypassed this region as much as possible during the Elder Days.[2]

When Aredhel sought the Sons of Fëanor, her and her party being turned away for Doriath tried to pass through this land were separated from her. She managed to escape to Himlad but her companions were driven out by the brood of Ungoliant and afterwards they believed her loss in its darkness. This was then reported to Turgon who despaired at the thought that she was loss.[3]

As the forces of Morgoth sought to destroy the remnants of Barahir's Outlaws, Beren, the last surviving member was so hard-pressed and desperate to live that he was forced to enter this land, and barely survived. Afterwards, Beren would not speak of it for fear of the memory of such a horrible experience would return to his mind.[4] Nan Dungortheb suffered the same fate as the Beleriand and sank below the sea,[5] but the spider creatures that bred there survived in Middle-earth in dark places during later ages.[6][7]


Nan Dungortheb was a Sindarin word that meant 'Valley of Dreadful Death'.[8]


  1. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter VIII: "Of the Darkening of Valinor"
  2. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIV: "Of Beleriand and its Realms"
  3. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XVI: "Of Maeglin"
  4. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XIX: "Of Beren and Lúthien"
  5. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXIV: "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  6. The Hobbit, Chapter VIII: "Flies and Spiders"
  7. The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, Book Four, Chapter IX: "Shelob's Lair"
  8. The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names

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