The North-South Road was part of the Royal Road linking Arnor and Gondor. The North-South Road was approximately 600 miles long. It ran between Fornost in the north and Isengard in the south. At the Fords of Isen, the North-South Road merged with the Great West Road.
The northern half of the North-South Road was in Eriador. From Fornost, the Road ran south to Bree. Outside the West-gate of Bree, the North-South Road intersected with the Great East Road. At this major crossroads was the inn called The Prancing Pony, where travellers brought news from the South as well as goods such as Pipe-weed which first came to Bree and the Shire via the North-South Road.
The North-South Road then passed through the narrow passage called the Andrath between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs. South of the Andrath, a road to the Shire branched off the North-South Road. The North-South Road then curved southeastward through the region of Minhiriath.
At the city of Tharbad, the Road crossed the River Greyflood on the southern border of Eriador. Originally, the Road went over the Bridge of Tharbad. On either side of the Bridge, the Road was built up on causeways to traverse the surrounding marshland. But the Bridge was destroyed by floods in TA 2912 and all that remained was a dangerous ford.
The southern half of the North-South Road passed through Enedwaith, which at one time nominally belonged to Gondor but was essentially a borderland between Gondor and Arnor. East of the Road in Enedwaith was Dunland at the foot of the Misty Mountains.
At the southern end of the Misty Mountains, the North-South Road curved eastward through the Gap of Rohan and ended at the Fords of Isen. Just west of the Fords a road branched north to Isengard. East of the Fords was the Great West Road to Minas Tirith and Osgiliath.
Together the North-South Road and the Great West Road formed the Royal Road, or Great Road, which was the main route by land between Gondor and Arnor. The two Kingdoms were founded in 3320 of the Second Age. Each was responsible for maintaining their own stretch of the Road, and together they built and maintained the Bridge of Tharbad and its causeways.
After the Great Plague of TA 1636, Gondor and Arnor were considerably weakened and could no longer keep the Road and Bridge in repair. The North-kingdom fell in TA 1974 and Fornost at the northern end of the North-South Road was abandoned. The causeways near Tharbad eventually disintegrated and the marshes encroached on the Road. In the spring of TA 2912 after the Fell Winter, floods caused the Bridge to collapse.
Fewer and fewer travellers used the North-South Road and it became overgrown with grass so that the people of Bree called it the Greenway. However, during the War of the Ring at the end of the Third Age, unwelcome travellers began to come up the North-South Road from the South. Some were honest refugees, but many were troublemakers including agents of Saruman. Early in 3019, there was fighting in Bree and the Shire was taken over by Saruman's agents.
The Hobbits expelled the Men from the Shire in the Battle of Bywater on November 3, and the Rangers of the North returned from the war and dealt with the other troublemakers. The North-kingdom was reestablished by Aragorn, King Elessar, and the North-South Road was open to travellers once more.
Names & EtymologyEdit
The North-South Road was called the Greenway in later years by the Bree-folk because it had become disused and overgrown with grass. It was sometimes called the North Road and the Old South Road.
The North-South Road and the Great West Road were collectively called the Royal Road or the Great Road. (Note that the Great East Road was also referred to as the Great Road.)
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, "Prologue - Concerning Pipe-weed," pg. 18; "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony," pgs. 162-63, 165, 167-68; "Strider," pg. 176; "The Council of Elrond," pgs. 269, 276; "The Ring Goes South," pg. 287
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, "Homeward Bound," pgs. 271-73; "The Scouring of the Shire," pg. 284
- ↑ Unfinished Tales: "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn," pgs. 264-65; "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields," pgs. 271, 278 note 6; "The Hunt for the Rings," pg. 348; "The Battles of the Fords of Isen," pgs. 369-70
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull: "Prologue," pg. 31