Of Beleriand and Its Realms
Chapter Fourteen summarizes the geography of Beleriand and how the Eldar divided it into realms and held the Siege of Angband.
To the far north of Beleriand, Melkor had raised the Iron Mountains in defense of Utumno and Angband and, over these, the triple towers of Thangorodrim, built of filth and slag from his subterranean realm. Angband was deep—“endless dungeons”—and the Valar in their haste had not cleared it fully, and many foul things remained there even after Melkor had been taken captive.
To the west of Angband was Hithlum, a cold land but fertile, and the Noldor raised their horses there upon Ard-Galen. Fingolfin and his son Fingon held this realm. To the west of Hithlum, warmed by the winds from the sea, was the land of Nevrast, which was ruled by Fingolfin’s second son Turgon before he departed for Gondolin.
To the east of Hithlum stretched the great highland of Dorthonion, overlooking the fertile plains of Ard-Galen. This land was held by Angrod and Aegnor, brothers of Finrod Felagund. Few Elves lived there because the land was barren and it was believed that the treacherous highland would not be lightly crossed by Morgoth.
Finrod Felagund kept the Pass of Sirion where the River Sirion flowed, and upon the island Tol Sirion, he built his great watchtower Minas Tirith. When Finrod went to Nargothrond, this fortress he left to the keeping of his brother Orodreth. The River Sirion cut the land of Beleriand in half. To the west lay the realm of Nargothrond—which extended from Sirion to the sea except for the Falas, kept by Círdan, close in friendship with Finrod—and was ruled by Finrod Felagund. Nargothrond was the most extensive realm in Beleriand.
Eastern Beleriand stretched on the other side of the Sirion, the widest land in Beleriand. Here was Nan Dungortheb, a terrifying place north of Doriath where the Noldor passed only at great need, keeping close to Doriath. Here, Ungoliant had fled and defiled the land, and her offspring remained and wove their webs. The water that came out of Nan Dungortheb was poisonous and filled the hearts of those who drank it with thoughts of madness and darkness.
South of Nan Dungortheb laid Doriath, which lay within the Girdle of Melian and into which no one could pass against King Thingol’s will.
In Eastern Beleriand, from the north, flowed the river Gelion, which split into the seven rivers after which Ossiriand—the Land of the Seven Rivers—was named. Ossiriand was bordered in the East by the Blue Moutains (Ered Luin/Ered Lindon). In Ossiriand, the Green Elves (Laiquendi) lived, and the Noldor named the mountains Ered Lindon after the sound of their singing.
The area east of Dorthonion was most open to attack, and here the Sons of Fëanor lived with their people. Maedhros held the northernmost realm in the March of Maedhros. South from him was the land of Himlad, guarded by Celegorm and Curufin. To the east, where the hills failed, was the gap held by Maglor and—south of him—the land held by Caranthir, called Thargelion. The people of the Sons of Fëanor kept mostly to the northern parts of the land—although the youngest sons Amrod and Amras kept lands to the south—except to hunt in the forests in the south.