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Black Gate

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The Black Gate
Gate
John Howe - The Black Gates.jpg
"The Black Gates" by John Howe
General Information
Other namesMorannon (S)
LocationNorthern end of Cirith Gorgor, between Ephel Dúath and Ered Lithui
TypeGate
DescriptionIron gate with two doors in a wall of stone
People and History
Inhabitantsforces of Sauron, later Gondorians, then again forces of Sauron
Createdafter S.A. 1000
Destroyed25 March, T.A. 3019
GalleryImages of the Black Gate

The Black Gate (Sindarin: Morannon) was the main entrance into the land of Mordor. It blocked the pass of Cirith Gorgor, the gap between the Ephel Dúath and the Ered Lithui. The pass of Cirith Gorgor led to the valley of Udûn that led to the plain of Gorgoroth in Mordor.[1] The Black Gate was a single gate of iron, which consisted of two vast iron doors under a frowning arch,[2] in a rampart of stone with a battlement that stretched between the high cliffs on either side of the mouth of the pass. On two sheer, black-boned and bare hills that were thrust forward from the mouth of the pass stood two strong and tall towers, the Towers of the Teeth.[3]

History

The Black Gate was built by Sauron[3] after he chose Mordor as a land to make into a stronghold in S.A. 1000.[4]

In S.A. 3434 the Battle of Dagorlad[5] took place at the plain Dagorlad in front of the Black Gate.[6]

After Sauron's fall, the Men of Gondor built the Towers of the Teeth to prevent him to return to Mordor[3] and the Black Gate was manned by the forces of Gondor.

After the Great Plague devastated Gondor in T.A. 1636,[7] the watch on the borders of Mordor ceased and the fortresses that guarded the passes were unmanned in T.A. 1640 because of a lack of troops.[8][9] In T.A. 1944 when king Ondoher of Gondor and both his sons fell in a battle against the Wainriders north of the Morannon[10][11] the Morannon and the Towers of the Teeth were still manned by troops from Gondor.[12] After that the strength of Gondor failed and the Towers of the Teeth and probably also the Black Gate were abandoned by the Men of Gondor and stood empty for long years.[3] It is possible that the Black Gate was occupied by the forces of Sauron after the Witch-king came to Mordor in T.A. 1980.[13]

During the War of the Ring, on 24 MarchT.A. 3019,[14] the Army of the West, numbering under 6,000 men, arrived at the Black Gate with the intention of drawing the Eye of Sauron away from Mount Doom, to allow Frodo the Ringbearer to cast the One Ring into the Crack of Doom within it.[2] On 25 March, T.A. 3019[15] the Army of the West challenged Sauron. As a reaction, the forces of Sauron came out of the Black Gate, an army of Easterlings that had hidden in the shadows of the Ered Lithui beyond the eastern Tower of the Teeth approached and orcs poured down from the hills on either side of the Black Gate and attacked the Army of the West. When the One Ring fell into the Cracks of Doom the volcano Mount Doom erupted,[16] and the Towers of the Teeth, the rampart and the Black Gate collapsed in an earthquake. The forces of Sauron fled, most of the Men of Rhûn and Harad fled eastward, some of them surrendered and the rest were destroyed.[17]

Portrayal in adaptations

1987-96: Middle-earth Role Playing:

The Teeth of Mordor module in the Fortresses of Middle-earth series contains drawings of the Black Gate with the Towers of the Teeth and a floor plan and description of the Black Gate. It is described that Isildur began an grand plan to seal off Mordor and that the construction began before the end of T.A. 3019 and was completed during the reign of Rómendacil I (T.A. 492 - T.A. 541). It is mentioned that by T.A. 1640 the last citadel guarding Mordor was abandoned. It is said that in the same year of the closing of the Dúnadan fortresses guarding Mordor Sauron sent all Ringwraiths except the Witch-king and Khamûl to lake Núrnen with the mission to ready Mordor for his return. It is described that they sent scouts north who found that the Gondorian fortresses were abandoned and that the Ringwraith Dwar of Waw occupied the Black Gate with Orcs, Trolls and mannish servants. It is further said that he repaired and changed the towers and the Black Gate in secret and that Gondor concerned with internal matters scarcely noted the activity. It is described that the Black Gate was destroyed in the cataclysm of Sauron's fall.
The Black Gate in adaptations
The Black Gate in The Lord of the Rings Online  

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

The Black Gate is present in the film series. in the second film is appears as a double gate, operated by Trolls, where Frodo and Sam attempt to go through the Gate until convinced by Gollum not to do so. In the third film the Black Gate is a focal point of the Battle of the Morannon, and after the destruction of the One Ring the Black Gate and the Towers of the Teeth are seen to collapse.

2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:

The Black Gate appears in the game as the location of a number of quests in the lead up to the defeat of Sauron.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "The Black Gate is Closed", second and third paragraph
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", entry for the year c. 1000 of the Second Age
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", entry for the year 3434 of the Second Age
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age", "before the gate of the Black Land
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1636 of the Third Age
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Telemnar
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1640 of the Third Age
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", entry for king Ondoher
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "(i) The Northmen and the Wainriders"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan", "Notes", note 15
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age", entry for the year 1980 of the Third Age
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", 24 March of the year 3019 of the Third Age
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Great Years", 25 March of the year 3019 of the Third Age
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Mount Doom"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Field of Cormallen"