a view of Cirith Ungol from www.lotrscenerybuilder.org
|Place in Arda|
|Summary||Fortess of Mordor|
|Built by||Men of Gondor|
|Lord||Kings of Gondor, later Lord of Mordor|
|Lifespan||Third Age-Fourth Age|
DescriptionEditAt the top of the pass was a cleft with two rock horns on each side, with the tower on the northernmost. The tower is built of black stone against the eastern rock face. There are three tiers, each set back from the last. The two sides face northeast and southeast, and meet to form a bastion pointing eastward. At the top of the tower was a tall round turret overlooking the pass. A 30 ft (9.1 m) high, outer wall surrounds the bottom tier, and forms an overhanging parapet to prevent enemies from climbing over.
A road runs from the pass of Cirith Ungol to the tower, with the fortress to the north and a sheer precipice to the south. In the southeastern side of the outer wall of is the main gate, guarded by two hideous statues on each side, called Watchers. Each statue is of three bodies connected to one vulture-like head. Also on the southeastern wall of the lowest tier of the tower is the gateway leading inside. A hallway with rooms branching off travels back through the building to a curved archway called the Undergate, which leads to Shelob's Lair. To the right of the Undergate was a spiral staircase leading up through the tower, opening up onto the roof of the third tier. On the western side of the roof is the round turret. A winding staircase goes up to a passageway running across the turret. Above the passage was a trapdoor leading to a room in the very top of the tower.
The fortress was associated with the mountain fortress of Durthang in Northwestern Mordor, and the Towers of the Teeth at the Morännon. All were part of the Gondor defensive scheme that proved too costly to maintain as the hardships of the next sixteen centuries.
The Tower was built by the Men of Gondor after The War of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men to guard the province of Ithilien from the evil forces inside Mordor. The principal purpose of the sturdy Gondorian tower was to defend Ithilien from attacks from Sauron's remaining servants. For this reason its two bastions were directed to the north and south-east. It also served to stop Sauron's servants from returning to Mordor through the pass. Gondor held the tower it until TA 1636 when the Great Plague depopulated Gondor and afterwards there was no one left to man it, thus allowing evil creatures to once again enter Mordor.
The tower itself slowly became a haven of the enemy and was commanded by Uruk-hai and Orcs. During Sauron's second return it was used by Orcs to watch the lands of Mordor to prevent the desertion of any of Sauron's forces. During the War of the Ring, Frodo was imprisoned here after being captured by Shagrat's orc party as he lay on the ground paralyzed by the poison of Shelob. They intended to hold him for questioning but when he was searched, Frodo's Mithril-shirt was found. Afterwards, Shagrat's orcs and orcs led by Gorbag from Minas Morgul did battle to possess it. By the time the battle was over, orcs and Uruk-hai from both sides had nearly wiped each other out allowing Sam to enter the tower unopposed and rescue Frodo.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"
- The Atlas of Middle-earth pgs. 92 & 143-5