Player name(s): DarthEnigma
Player rank: Builder+
Private or Public: Public
Location name: Various settlements and fortifications along the west bank of the Gwathló/Greyflood
Lore: The Numenoreans began to explore the region along the Gwathló to exploit local timber reserves because of legislation banning logging on the island of Elenna (aka Numenor). They first settled at Lond Daer in the SA 700s, and gradually moved up the river as they deforested the region. Over the next millenium or so, their operations extended as far north along the river as far as Tharbad. Because of the resistance of the local people to the Numenoreans’ uncontrolled logging, the invaders were obligated to construct a series of forts to defend their woodyards and shipping.
Quoting Unfinished Tales, “The devastation wrought by the Númenóreans was incalculable. For long years these lands were their chief source of timber, not only for their ship-yards at Lond Daer and elsewhere, but also for Númenor itself. Shiploads innumerable passed west over the sea. The denuding of the lands was increased during the war in Eriador; for the exiled natives welcomed Sauron and hoped for his victory over the Men of the Sea. Sauron knew of the importance to his enemies of the Great Haven and its ship-yards, and he used these haters of Númenor as spies and guides for his raiders. He had not enough force to spare for any assault upon the forts at the Haven or along the banks of the Gwathló but his raiders made much havoc on the fringe of the forests, setting fire in the woods and burning many of the great wood-stores of the Númenóreans.”
The native people of the region were treated brutally by the Numenoreans, leading them to assist Sauron in the “War of the Elves and Sauron” at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries SA. However, because of the Numenoreans’ military might, they were unable to assault the forts successfully and were routed. This appears to be the last military conflict fought across the entirety of the region. The garrisons were likely maintained for the remainder of Numenor’s existence, but the area is quiet for the rest of the Second Age.
The region becomes relevant again at the end of the Second Age/beginning of the Third Age, as a center of interaction between Gondor and Arnor. Again from Unfinished Tales, “Before the decay of the North Kingdom and the disasters that befell Gondor, indeed until the coming of the Great Plague in Third Age 1636, both kingdoms shared an interest in this region, and together built and maintained the Bridge of Tharbad and the long causeways that carried the road to it on either side of the Gwathló and Mitheithel across the fens in the plains of Minhiriath and Enedwaith. * A considerable garrison of soldiers, mariners and engineers had been kept there until the seventeenth century of the Third Age. But from then onwards the region fell quickly into decay; and long before the time of The Lord of the Rings had gone back into wild fenlands. When Boromir made his great journey from Gondor to Rivendell - the courage and hardihood required is not fully recognized in the narrative-the North-South Road no longer existed except for the crumbling remains of the causeways, by which a hazardous approach to Tharbad might be achieved, only to find ruins on dwindling mounds, and a dangerous ford formed by the ruins of the bridge, impassable if the river had not been there slow and shallow - but wide.”
The lower Gwathló remained important for commerce in the early Third Age, with the city of Tharbad rising in prominence with the construction of its bridge. Various other towns were settled along the western bank during this period. Arnor maintained garrisons in some Numenorean forts that were relevant to their defense, while allowing a certain few to fall into ruin. The surviving forts transitioned to serving as the residences of nobility and the primary defense of the new towns. This situation was maintained for approximately 900 years, until Arnor disintegrated, with the successor state of Cardolan now controlling the region. Cardolan’s conflict with Angmar led to a re-fortification of the area at the end of thirteenth century of the Third Age, with additions and repairs made to some of the old Numenorean forts, combined with the construction of a line of entirely new forts in the north.
Eventually, the situation worsened immensely for the local Dunedain. According to Appendix A in The Lord of the Rings, in the section on “Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur,” “A great host came out of Angmar in [TA] 1409, and crossing the river entered Cardolan and surrounded Weather Top. The Dunedain were defeated and Arveleg was slain. The tower of Amon Sul was burned and razed; but the palantir was saved and carried back in retreat to Fornost, Rhudaur was occupied by evil Men subject to Angmar, and the Dunedain that remained there were slain or fled west. Cardolan was ravaged.” It continues by stating that a temporarily successful defense was maintained along the line of Fornost, the North Downs, and with the help of the Elvish powers in Lindon and Rivendell. Thus, I do not believe that Angmar attacked the region along the Gwathló directly, but may have destroyed some of the northern forts.
At any rate, the Stoors left the Angle at this time because of the ongoing unrest and the worsening climate. The Great Plague in TA 1636 was the catalyst for the “region [falling] quickly into decay,” as mentioned before. Tolkien continues in the Appendix that, “In the days of Argeleb II the plague came into Eriador from the Southeast, and most of the people in Cardolan perished, especially in Minhiriath. . . It was at this time that an end came of the Dunedain of Cardolan.” With this, we can take it that any remaining fortifications in the region were abandoned permanently and left to ruin. However, this does not mean that the region became uninhabited. People akin to the Dunlendings and the Bree-men remained in Tharbad and the old towns of Cardolan, initially profiting from interaction between Gondor and Arthedain, and later governing themselves and largely managing their own affairs. The remained the situation for almost the entire third millenium of the Third Age. Finally though, devastating floods associated with the thaw from the Fell Winter of 2912 swept away Tharbad and its satellite towns and largely ended the presence of Men along the Gwathló.
Overhead plan: Using GFFort4 as the example for the rest of the forts:
Features in red are original to the Numenorean structure, features in blue were added during Arnorian or Cardolan use.
1- Central tower
2- Gatehouse/stair tower/beacon tower
3- Walkways from the central tower to the wall
4- Outer wall
7- Original Numenorean tower (round, ruined)
8- Cardolan gate tower (square)
9- Cardolan wall tower
An example for the Cardolan towns will be uploaded later, but they should closely follow the guidelines of /warp ArnorGuide.
The history of the forts vary from example to example. Forts 1 and 3 were constructed by Numenor and abandoned at the end of the Second Age. Forts 2, 4, 5, and 6 were likewise constructed by Numenor, but were converted to noble residences and used for defense of the Cardolan towns in the Third Age. Forts 7-10 were constructed from scratch by Cardolan in the middle of the Third Age to address the threat from Angmar, and were likely damaged or destroyed to some degree in subsequent conflict. The ArnorGuide can be applied nearly verbatim to Forts 7-10.
I don’t want to limit claimants’ by mocking-up the remaining sites in wool prematurely, and would rather that they contact me on Discord to come up with an appropriate history and layout for their individual projects. I want to allow some degree of individual creativity to exist to account for the varying histories and locations of these sites, while still maintaining overall consistency across the project as a whole. Mostly, I just want to be available to provide guidance, suggestions, and approval without breathing down anyone’s neck.
In-game guide: A mockup of GFFort4 in both ruined and unruined states has been constructed directly south of spawn in /warp Fberiador. It will be updated with signs to provide a formal /warp GreyfloodGuide shortly. In the meantime, the directions at /warp ArnorGuide still largely hold true. Please contact me directly on Discord to discuss the style if you wish to claim a project, especially until GreyfloodGuide is finalized.
Terrain: Mostly not applicable, some minor flattening may be necessary to depict the remains of settlement/woodyards/fortifications
Reference Imagery: Again not really applicable–the architecture was inspired by Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian, Mycenean, and Minoan examples, but has been adapted from its original rectilinear shapes to circular forms. Beyond that, the changes in palette materials to adapt for climate and location and the general ruining means that there is no equivalent reference imagery to draw from. The closest source of inspiration that was used for the final project was /warp arnorguide and the existing Arnorian ruins in Eriador.