Imladris (n.), or Rivendell, its common speech translation and the most widely used term today – is located at the edge of the Bruinen River, and the eastern edge of Eriador.
In Sindarin, ‘deep dale of the cleft’ and in Quenya, ‘Arcimbelë,’ along with Hoarwell and Silverlode.
Rivendell, “The Last Homely House East of the Sea,” or the First – depending on where the dweller lived – was founded by Elrond after the War of the Elves and Sauron. In the War of the Ring, Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin travelled there to meet Bilbo who went after his 111th birthday. They also met Elves, Dwarves and Men as well!
Table of Contents
- Rivendell: Second Age
- Rivendell: Third Age
- Post-War of the Ring
Rivendell: Second Age
Founded in the Second Age, after Eregion was decimated by Sauron’s forces in search of the Elvish Rings of Power, Elrond and his army were eventually aided by Elves from Lindon and the Númenoreans three years after they were pushed back into the hills of Rhudaur.
Thus, Elrond established a stronghold at the headwaters of Bruinen, where he and his army were forced after the War.
This became a refuge for those seeking shelter from the onslaught of Sauron, joined by his and Celeborn’s Elves. They were soon joined after fleeing the Sack of Eregion. Sauron took over Eriador in 1700 and defeated in 3441, and thus, is driven out of Eriador the year after. This was aided by Elendil and Gil-galad’s forming of the Last Alliance of the Second Age to challenge Sauron.
Shortly after, there was a council held at the time, making Elrond a vice-regent of Gil-galad in Eriador, and Imladris his seat. This was aided by the power of the Elven ring Vilya that was given to Elrond from Gil-galad in secret. Imladris was an Elvish stronghold in Eriador, and remained as such throughout the Second and into the Third Ages.
Rivendell: Third Age
Elrond remained in Imladris, which was a refuge and a sanctuary of the Elves in the Third Age. These were the fading years of the Eldar especially in Middle-earth.
“For long they were at peace, wielding the Three Rings while Sauron slept and the One Ring was lost; but they attempted nothing new, living in memory of the past.” (LOTR App. B)
By then, Rivendell was a refuge and sanctuary, with many Elves dwelling there after the fall of Gil-galad – thus being the chief dwelling of the High Elves in Eriador except the Elves of Lindon – but it was certainly not limited to the Elves.
Wise and powerful people of any the Middle-earth races have gathered or even dwelled there. For example, Isildur’s heirs were able to dwell there after their kinship with Elrond, as descendants of his brother Elros.
And of course, Bilbo, a hobbit who stopped there in the Quest of Erebor with Thorin and Company, and later went to Rivendell to retire after his 111th birthday in order to write his memoir, There and Back Again — which could be due to his extraordinary relations with the Elves.
And Frodo and his companions, who also journeyed in Rivendell where they met Bilbo, and several other Elves, Dwarves and Men have also arrived for different reasons – though all of them were related to the fate of the One Ring.
The Three Rings
For a significant portion of the Third Age, however, the guardianship of the Three Rings were only known to those who possessed them – Gil-galad, Galadriel, and Círdan. Gil-galad gave the ring to Elrond as mentioned, after he died, and Círdan later gave the ring to Mithrandir, whom Círdan saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth and later welcomed in the Grey Havens.
Círdan the Shipwright dwelled there still until the Last Ship sailed west. Most of the High Elves dwelt with him or in Lindon.
Around T.A. 1300, the witch-king of Angmar was established in the northeast, causing danger to Eriador. During the reign of Arveleg I, which was when Arveleg the ‘mighty king’ tried to claim lordship over Rhudaur, Rivendell was besieged by Angmar.
On T.A. 1409, after the incursion by Angmar into Eriador, the Elves joined those of Lindon and Galadhrim whom Elrond brought over the Mountains, subduing the power of the Witch-king.
In T.A. 1974 the power of Angmar rose again, and the witch-king captured Fornost. Arvedui had hid in the tunnels of the old dwarf-mines for a while.
The end of the North-kingdom occurred a year later, and Aranarth, the first Chieftain of the Dúnedain, had his son fostered in Rivendell, as well as all subsequent sons of the chieftains.
Across the Misty Mountains between Imladris and Lothlórien, Elrond wed Celebrían, the daughter of Galadriel and Celeborn.
Quest of Erebor
In the Quest of Erebor, while Thorin and Co. were headed off to the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo was able to spend two weeks in Rivendell.
By then, Elrond was “as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer.” (TH)
Elrond also knew a lot about the runes, which were old swords of the High Elves of the West. There were plain runes, and runes that included “moon-letters.” They remain unseen unless the moon shines behind them.
Furthermore, Bilbo enjoyed the Elvish singing in June under the stars, and the people seemed to know him very well despite him not having seen them before, for they knew “as quick as water flows, or quicker.” (TH) This was later known to be “mind-pictures.” (NoME)
After the Quest, Bilbo and Gandalf went back to Rivendell. Bilbo learned where Gandalf has been to, which was a “great council of the white wizards” (TH). He later spent the night there before making the home stretch back to his home in Bag End.
War of the Ring
Bilbo went to Rivendell after his 111th birthday, when he pulled a practical joke on his hobbit friends and relatives, and snuck back to his home in Bag End. He cited feeling “thin and stretched,” due to the effects of carrying the One Ring, which he had found during his first encounter with Gollum.
Years later, Frodo woke up in Rivendell after being wounded by the Riders. While he was wounded, he and his companions learn that Glorfindel lives in Rivendell and in the House of Elrond as well – who was “an elf-lord of a house of princes” (LR).
Strider prepared a medicine for Frodo, and later found an elf-stone which gave him hope. (though it was Arwen in the movies)
When the hobbits got to Rivendell, Elrond called for a meeting to see what would happen next – which eventually led to Frodo carrying the Ring.
Frodo learned he was cured by Elrond, which took four nights and three days. By then, those who lived in Rivendell included the “Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from beyond the furthest seas.” (LR) They didn’t fear the Ringwraiths as they have too much power to do so – having lived in the Blessed Realm at some point.
Post-War of the Ring
After the Destruction of the One Ring, Frodo and his companions stopped by Rivendell to meet Bilbo again before Bilbo and Frodo – and much later, Sam, went to the Grey Havens.
Elrond’s ring lost its power and he left Rivendell to sail west to Valinor, which started the Fourth Age. However, some of the remaining Noldor still remained there for a while. Celeborn also went there after the departure of Galadriel.
While the “fall” or “abandonment” of Rivendell was unknown, it was implied that it was right before Aragorn’s death, as he had remarked to Arwen that “none now walk [in the white birches of the garden of Elrond]” (LR).
Thus it was also implied that by then, the last of the Elves have gone to Valinor, ending the story of Rivendell.