I mean this would have saved a lot of problems - no garrison or servants of Sauron could return there, meaning no attack on Lorien or Thranduil's realm. We see after the war of the ring that Galadriel by HERSELF destroys Dol Guldur, so why didn't the white council destroy it earlier when they had the chance?

Is there anything in the texts which might suggest why they didn't destroy it?

  • And how do you propose these four or five individuals dismantle a fortress?
    – Lexible
    May 21, 2015 at 20:23
  • 1
    The same way Galadriel does in the end?
    – user31546
    May 21, 2015 at 22:09
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    We never see Galadriel destroy anything, and no fortress is destroyed by anyone. The closest is when Frodo & Sam see Barad-Dur collapsing after the Ring goes into Mt. Doom, presumably because it was founded on the Ring's power.
    – jamesqf
    May 21, 2015 at 22:14
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    Oh! You are asking about Peter Jackson's giddy distortions and wholesale revision of Tolkien... not about the books.
    – Lexible
    May 21, 2015 at 22:20
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    @jamesqf In the appendix it is stated that after the War of the Ring "Celeborn came forth and led the host of Lorien over the Anduin in many boats. They took Dol Guldur, and Galadriel threw down its walls and laid bare its pits, and the forest was cleansed." The issue is how literally to take the part about Galadriel. May 21, 2015 at 23:03

1 Answer 1


We're not told in the text exactly how Sauron was driven out of Dol Guldur. The Hobbit only says:

It appeared that Gandalf had been to a great council of the white wizards, masters of lore and good magic; and that they had at last driven the Necromancer from his dark hold in the south of Mirkwood. "Ere long now," Gandalf was saying, "The Forest will grow somewhat more wholesome."

(The Hobbit, Chapter 19, "The Last Stage")

The Fellowship of the Ring doesn't add much more. Gandalf merely says:

"Some, too, will remember also that Saruman dissuaded us from open deeds against him, and for long we watched him only. Yet at last, as his shadow grew, Saruman yielded, and the Council put forth its strength and drove the evil out of Mirkwood. ... It was by the devices of Saruman that we drove [Sauron] from Dol Guldur."

(The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter 2, "The Council of Elrond"; emphasis added)

And that's all we're ever told.

With this in mind, it's not even clear that there was a physical confrontation between the White Council and Sauron, much less that they were physically present—indeed, I would argue that the phrasing "put forth its strength" suggests that they were not physically present. As importantly, we're only told that Sauron left; we don't know that there weren't others of his servants still present.

Thus, though we're never told exactly why Dol Guldur wasn't destroyed, we can raise the following possibilities:

  1. The White Council wasn't physically present at Dol Guldur, and thus could only affect Sauron, not the fortress itself.

  2. The Council's action affected only Sauron, and wasn't applicable to his servants, who held the fortress.

  3. Both of the above.

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    A fourth point might be that destroying an empty building is often not worth the effort.
    – Omegacron
    May 21, 2015 at 15:11
  • @Omegacron: Or even that the Council did not have the resources to destroy it. Saruman might not have wanted to disclose the fact that he had explosives, and (as far as I remember) all we see from Gandalf are fireworks and hand grenade level stuff. So the Council would basically need an army of workers to tear it down. They'd have to feed & pay that army, and I don't think there's any suggestion that they control resources on that scale.
    – jamesqf
    May 21, 2015 at 18:53
  • I understand "put forth its strength" as them using maybe an army and attacking? This is usually how 'medieval time' armies are referred to in books(their strength or might). And I can only guess that "devices of Saruman" were bombs similar to the one used at Helms Deep. It would seem those bombs are quite effective at leveling walls :P all just my interpretation though. +1 May 22, 2015 at 10:06
  • @LepelLeLama The problem with that is that there's no evidence at all that any of the Council (the wizards in particular) had access to any sort of military resources. May 22, 2015 at 18:16
  • @MattGutting That is true, that is just what i took from that text, as there is also no evidence to prove it wrong :P Also note that English is not my first language, so I might interpret certain words wrong :D May 25, 2015 at 8:04

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