The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
The land of Nurn, the southerly lowland region of Mordor
Fed by four rivers flowing from sources in the mountains surrounding Mordor
Núrnen means 'sad water' or 'dead water'1
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 1 August 2013
  • This entry is complete

Sea of Núrnen

Mordor’s great inland sea

Map of the Sea of Núrnen

A large body of water in the low-lying southern region of Mordor known as Nurn. More than a hundred miles in length, and some fifty miles across at its widest point, the Sea was fed by four rivers flowing down from the mountains that surrounded Mordor. The so-called 'Sea' of Núrnen in fact appears to have been a huge lake, and indeed it is often referred to as 'Lake Núrnen'. Its waters are described as dark and bitter; it isn't entirely clear how literally those terms are meant, but they may refer to its sources in the poisoned waters running out of the mountains of Ered Lithui and Ephel Dúath.

During Sauron's rule of Mordor, the lands around the Sea of Núrnen produced the food for his armies out of farms worked by slaves. After the War of the Ring and the defeat of Sauron, the new King Elessar freed those slaves and granted them the land around the Sea as their own.



It seems unavoidable that the names Núrnen and Nurn are etymologically related. Perhaps the most obvious possibility is that the name Nurn (meaning either 'sad' or 'death') was first given to the slave-lands of Mordor, and the Sea took its name from that (so that Núrnen suggests 'Water of Nurn' rather than literally 'sad water' or 'dead water'). However, Tolkien himself translated the name directly, so perhaps the Sea was named first, and the surrounding land then took a part of its name.

See also...

Inland Sea, Inner Seas, Mordor, Nurn


About this entry:

  • Updated 1 August 2013
  • This entry is complete

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