The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
A long range running north to south, between Eriador and the Vales of Anduin
Said to have been raised in ancient days by Melkor as a defence against the Valar
Various, but notably the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm and the Orcs of Goblin-town
From north to south: Carn Dûm in Angmar, Goblin-town, the Eyrie, Khazad-dûm, Isengard
Many rivers had their sources in the Hithaeglir, but most notably Glanduin, Hoarwell and Loudwater to the west, the Gladden River and Silverlode to the east, and the river Isen from the mountains' southern reaches
Important peaks
Cirith Forn en Andrath (the High Pass), the Pass of Caradhras; lesser unnamed passes included one above the sources of the Gladden River, and another above the sources of the river Hoarwell; the mountains could also be passed by traversing the Gap of Rohan at their southern end
hithae'gleerr (where ae is pronounced like the English word 'eye', and 'rr' indicates that the final r should be pronounced)
Essentially 'Misty Mountains', derived from Elvish hith, 'mist', and aeglir, 'a mountain range'1
Other names
Sometimes spelt Hithaiglin;2 also known as the Misty Mountains, Mountains of Mist, Towers of Mist


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 October 2018
  • This entry is complete


The misty peaks of central Middle-earth

Map of Hithaeglir, the Misty Mountains
The Misty Mountains

The Elvish name for the long, narrow range of peaks more commonly called the Misty Mountains. The name Hithaeglir is usually translated 'Towers of Mist', though it actually contains the Elvish word aeglir, meaning a range of sharply pointed peaks. The mountains of the Hithaeglir did indeed rise to notably sharp peaks, and had been even more forbidding in ancient days. According to legend they had been raised in an arc across Middle-earth by Melkor to hinder the Vala Oromë in his ridings into the eastern lands.

In that purpose Melkor failed: despite the Mountains, Oromë was able to travel into the far East of Middle-earth and discover the newly awakened Elves. A great part of these Elves he persuaded to accompany him back to the Blessed Realm in the West, but on coming to the high, sharp peaks of the Hithaeglir, the hearts of many of the Elves were filled with terror. These people fell away from the Great Journey, settling in the Vales of Anduin as the Nandor, from whom the Silvan Elves of Lórien and Mirkwood would spring.

After this division of the Elves, the histories of the First Age were recorded by those who had passed the Hithaeglir and travelled on to Beleriand and across the Great Sea. From their perspective, the great mountain range became part of their distant history, and is rarely mentioned in their accounts of those times. Even these people, though, were aware of a great city that arose among the Hithaeglir, a city of the Dwarves that the Elves called Hadhodrond (a name derived from its Dwarvish name of Khazad-dûm).

In texts from later ages the old Elvish name Hithaeglir is seen far less often, and this range is almost universally referred to as simply the 'Misty Mountains'. We do, however, have some evidence of the mountains being named Hithaeglir from time to time throughout the Second and Third Ages. In the Second Age, in a letter sent to King Tar-Meneldur of Númenor, Gil-galad referred to the Hithaeglir, describing them as his people's major defence against the forces that were stirring farther east. Millennia later, the name was used by Steward Cirion of Gondor in his Oath that granted the land of Calenardhon to Eorl and his people, and thus created Rohan. Both these examples come from highly formal uses of the Elvish language, though as the normal Elvish form of the name 'Misty Mountains', the term Hithaeglir also seems likely to have remained in common use among the speakers of that language.



The more usual Elvish word for a mountain range is ered (which is simply the plural of orod, 'mountain'). The word aeglir is more specific, coming from Elvish root words for a sharp point, and for a row or line (hence literally an aeglir was a line of sharp points). The term was never common, but it was used in Tolkien's older writings for various ranges, especially the Iron Mountains (which were at times known as the Aiglir Angrin or Eiglir Engrin). These names were dropped in favour of Ered Engrin, leaving Hithaeglir as the only survival of aeglir to be found in Tolkien's canonical works.


Specifically, on the original map included with The Lord of the Rings, this range is labelled Hithaiglin rather than the later form Hithaeglir. This may be a simple error, but we do have an early textual example of the spelling Hithaeglin, so the spelling shown on the old map may have represented Tolkien's preferred spelling at the time.


About this entry:

  • Updated 8 October 2018
  • This entry is complete

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1998, 2001, 2006, 2013, 2018. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Discus from Axiom Software Ltd.
Discus DISC reports provide a rich and accessible view of any individual's working style.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry