While rereading The Silmarillion, I've been having some fun contrasting maps of Middle-earth during different ages (found just by Googling.)

I noticed something odd. Consider this map of the First Age:

Fonstad map of Arda in the First Age, showing Endor meeting Aman in the west and the spine of the Ered Engrin reaching from the Helcaraxë to the East Sea.  The Ruins of Utumno are noted in the Ered Engrin between the Ered Luin and the Hithaeglir.

One can see the ruins of Utumno in the middle of the Iron Mountains in the north.

Now take a look at this map of the Second Age:

Fonstad map of Arda in the Second Age, with Middle-earth sundered from Aman and Beleriand lost (noted as "Lands Under the Wave").  Most of the Ered Engrin have been cast down with only scattered traces remaining.

Here Beleriand has sunk into the sea, but one can still trace the line of the Iron Mountains, with a hill in the north of Eriador roughly in the same location as Utumno, east of the Ice Bay.

Now compare that spot with a map from the Third Age:

Third Age Map

That hill appears to be the site of Carn Dûm, the capital of Angmar.

My question, with a few follow-ups:

  • Did JRRT or CT ever indicate in writing that these sites were geographically close?
  • If so was the proximity intentional?
  • Does anyone recognize the first two maps or can say anything about their authenticity (or lack of)?
  • 4
    The first two maps are from The Atlas of Middle-Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad.
    – Micah
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 0:50
  • 2
    Looking again years later, of course now I notice that I was not tracing the line of Ered Luin but rather the Misty Mountains. Following the blue mountains correctly does indeed put Utumno in the bay.
    – phs
    Commented Nov 6, 2019 at 18:56

6 Answers 6


The first map above was drawn by Karen Wynn Fonstad, is from The Atlas of Middle-Earth, and is based on an old Tolkien map published in The History of Middle Earth 4. The original map just had coastlines, mountains, some rivers, and other major geographical features, and much of what's on the Fonstad map is either conjectural or deduced from information elsewhere (an example is the relationship between the Inland Sea of Helcar and the Sea of Rhûn, which comes from a CT note in HoME 11).

The second map is obviously based on the first, but with the new coastlines following the Drowning of Beleriand in place. There's no Tolkien map (at least none published, or unpublished that we're aware of) to provide a basis for this, aside from the north coast, which was based on a Tolkien sketch map in HoME 7.

Regarding the location of Utumno, the only statement giving a clue is in footnote 25 to Return of the King, Appendix A:

These are a strange, unfriendly people, remnant of the Forodwaith, Men of far-off days, accustomed to the bitter colds of the realm of Morgoth. Indeed those colds linger still in that region, though they lie hardly more than a hundred leagues north of the Shire.

I'm not aware of anything more definite than that, and based on this statement I conjectured here that the Ruins of Utumno are actually under the Icebay of Forochel.

A complicating factor is that at the time LotR was written, and the geography of the Third Age was designed, Utumno was actually not a separate fortress at all, but rather Angband was built on the ruins of Utumno following Melkor's return from destroying the Trees. Utumno and Angband as separate fortresses both dating back to early times entered in post-LotR revisions to the Quenta Silmarillion texts, specifically those which CT names "LQ 2" and dates to 1958. See further HoME 10 and HoME 11.

It's therefore the case that at the time the LotR map was designed, the intended location of Utumno would have been somewhere under the Belegaer, to the north-west of Himling.

  • 2
    If the Ruins of Utumno did still exist on dry land during the Third Age, that would be the ultimate dungeon crawl adventure, heh. That is, if the ruins were still inhabited.
    – RobertF
    Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 17:48

Fonstad’s map places Utumno more than 2400 miles (using the scale provided) from Cuiviénen, where the Elves awoke and began their journey toward the West. Notwithstanding the unknown physics of Eä and Arda, would it have been possible for the Elves to hear the sounds from the Siege of Utumno and see the lights (from fires) and great clouds (of smoke?) arising from it that far away?

Based on other observations, we can assume that 1) Arda was flat then so there was no horizon and 2) Elves have far superior vision than other races. Given theses two assumptions, maybe it’s not such a stretch to accept that even from 2400 miles away, the Elves could have seen and heard the Siege of Utumno. If we discard these assumptions then Utumno must have been located closer to Cuiviénen than shown on Fonstad’s map.

“...the Quendi knew nothing of the great Battle of the Powers, save that the Earth shook and groaned beneath them, and the waters were moved, and in the north there were lights as of mighty fires.”

“It is told that when the hosts of the Eldalië departed from Cuiviénen Oromë rode at their head upon Nahar, his white horse shod with gold; and passing northward about the Sea of Helcar they turned towards the west. Before them great clouds hung still black in the North above the ruins of war...”

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien


I think it was further east based on the comment in the Silmarillion when the host of the west (Valar) went to protect the elves, "melkor met the onset of the Valar in the north west of middle earth and all that region was much broken. But the first victory of the hosts of the west was swift, and the servants of melkor fled before them to unumno. Then the Valar passed over middle earth, and they set guard over cuvienen, and there after the quendi knew nothing of the great battle of the powers, save that the earth shook and groaned beneath them, and the waters were moved, and in the north there were lights of mighty fires."

That last sentence suggests that the siege of utumno lit the sky north of cuvienen, since the elves were guarded at that point but had not began their travels west. Utumno should be closer to due north of cuvienen as a result.


My take on all this was that Utumno existed much closer to the pole than what's shown here. The fact that someone basically guessed the location of Utumno when drawing up that first map makes sense. I'd place the ruins of Utumno near where the Cape of Forochel is.


It sunk into the sea, and was wiped out. Compare the first map with the last one. You can see on the second map the sea starts at the Blue Mountains. Angband lay beyond that. I think Utumno lay next to the Icebay.

  • 2
    Can you provide a source for the statement that it (Utumno?) sank into the sea and was wiped out?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 3:22

I don’t think so because according to the The Encyclopedia of Arda Carn Dûm may have been a settlement of the dwarves once.

  • 1
    Can you elaborate on this answer? At this point it looks like an interesting comment.
    – Möoz
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 4:12

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