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Old 12-14-2011, 02:57 PM   #1
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Boots Follow Up to the Blue Mountains Question - Gundabad

I was reading about the War of the Dwarves and Orcs yesterday when a light went off in my head.

Gundabad was the birthplace of the dwarves and was a special place for them (at least according to what we are told) and the loss of Gundabad to the orcs was a real blow to the dwarves.

So if this is the case, why in the War of the Dwarves and Orcs did the dwarves not re-occupy Gundabad after they took it? The omission on the part of the Longbeards seems particularly curious since they didn't even have a settled home at the time.

Re-occupying old kingdoms seems to have been something of a racial obsession for the dwarves, at least as far as Khazad-dum and Erebor were concerned...but they didn't re-occupy Gundabad even after they had taken it and when they had no settled home.

This strikes me as odd.
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:12 PM   #2
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It might seem odd indeed. I still wonder though if the proximity to valuable metals and ores wasn't a consideration for the Dwarves when selecting a place to settle.

After all, Khazad-dûm was certainly revered as an ancient mansion of the Dwarves, but its location appears to be tied to the fact that mithril was found there. That could also explain why there weren't Dwarven colonies in the White Mountains, founded before the coming of the Númenóreans: there simply wasn't anything there the Dwarves thought they could use.
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Old 12-14-2011, 07:51 PM   #3
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Also, it was close to the Grey Mountains, which I believe was a 'There be Dragons' part of Middle Earth. Maybe the dwarves thought they had had more than their fair share of dragons up to that point and they didn't want more hassle.
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Old 12-15-2011, 08:19 PM   #4
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Also, it was close to the Grey Mountains, which I believe was a 'There be Dragons' part of Middle Earth. Maybe the dwarves thought they had had more than their fair share of dragons up to that point and they didn't want more hassle.
A good reason. And not just dragons - I suspect in the aftermath of the breaking of Angband many of the survivors of Morgoth's legions took refuge up there in the far north, making Gundabad an untenable option for the dwarves.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:40 PM   #5
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A good reason. And not just dragons - I suspect in the aftermath of the breaking of Angband many of the survivors of Morgoth's legions took refuge up there in the far north, making Gundabad an untenable option for the dwarves.
Yet neither those minions nor any remaining dragons (after Smaug had staked his claim on Erebor) apparently gave any assistance to the Orcs at Gundabad, or any other place the Dwarves attacked.

Smaug was said to have been the "greatest of the dragons of his day", implying there were others; however, their inaction as regards helping fellow evildoers is curious.
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Old 12-16-2011, 12:44 PM   #6
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Yet neither those minions nor any remaining dragons (after Smaug had staked his claim on Erebor) apparently gave any assistance to the Orcs at Gundabad, or any other place the Dwarves attacked.

Smaug was said to have been the "greatest of the dragons of his day", implying there were others; however, their inaction as regards helping fellow evildoers is curious.
Like any self-respecting clever evil-doer, why would a great dragon help a bunch of weakling orcs, unless he was forced to by Sauron or someone? Evil doers are selfish by definition. If I was a dragon I'd let the dwarves take Gundabad, wait a while for them to amass a bunch of gold and cool armour, then swoop in and take it all! Tis a fail-safe plan.
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Old 12-16-2011, 02:53 PM   #7
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If I was a dragon I'd let the dwarves take Gundabad, wait a while for them to amass a bunch of gold and cool armour, then swoop in and take it all! Tis a fail-safe plan.
If there were dragons capable and/or willing to do that, why wasn't the dwarven settlement in the Iron Hills ever attacked by them?
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:00 PM   #8
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The Iron Hills doesn't seem that wealthy a settlement, maybe the dragons thought it wasn't worth the effort. If the Iron Hills were amazing, surely the dwarves wouldn't have been so keen to move back to Erebor.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:03 PM   #9
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If there were dragons capable and/or willing to do that, why wasn't the dwarven settlement in the Iron Hills ever attacked by them?
Now now, surely you must know, Inzil? The Dragons had been plaguing all the Dwarven settlements in the North for ages, and especially those close to Withered Heath. Iron Hills was still relatively south (I know it sounds ridiculous if you look at the M-E map, but yes, in the relative sense - in relation to the Dragons - it still was South, and we can presume that most of the Dwarven settlements plundered by the Dragons were further to the north than that - simply judging from what we are told in The Hobbit: the Lonely Mountain was really very, very, very far south for the Dragons and considered safe and it took the biggest and bravest dragon of that age - i.e. Smaug - to come there), I think we can also conclude that Iron Hills was too strongly populated, defended, you name it - to be worth the trouble. Iron Hills: too far East for the mountain Orcs to threaten it, too far South (and possibly East, too) and seemingly really all too well defended for the Dragons to dare it. That's my conclusion, and I think it is rather evident (also because it is the only logical explanation anyway).

EDIT: x-ed with Elmo. I think that is also true, partially: it is clear the Iron Hills were in no way such a treasure-filled place as Erebor was, but also there still remains the idea about too many Dwarves being present (or maybe just the entrances were too small, who knows what kind of "holes" Iron Hill settlement really was?). So you could say even: yes, the effort/gain ration did not probably seem to be very inviting.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:18 PM   #10
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The Dragons had been plaguing all the Dwarven settlements in the North for ages, and especially those close to Withered Heath. Iron Hills was still relatively south (I know it sounds ridiculous if you look at the M-E map, but yes, in the relative sense - in relation to the Dragons - it still was South, and we can presume that most of the Dwarven settlements plundered by the Dragons were further to the north than that - simply judging from what we are told in The Hobbit: the Lonely Mountain was really very, very, very far south for the Dragons and considered safe and it took the biggest and bravest dragon of that age - i.e. Smaug - to come there), I think we can also conclude that Iron Hills was too strongly populated, defended, you name it - to be worth the trouble. Iron Hills: too far East for the mountain Orcs to threaten it, too far South (and possibly East, too) and seemingly really all too well defended for the Dragons to dare it. That's my conclusion, and I think it is rather evident (also because it is the only logical explanation anyway).
However, both Erebor and the Iron Hills would appear, judging from the maps, to be as near to the Withered Heath as Gundabad.

And if the Iron Hills was not considered a wealthy enough target, why would dragons have bothered a newly resettled Gundabad, which would presumably have taken very many years to repopulate and enrich?
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:24 PM   #11
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The dragons weren't just in the Withered Heath, that's just 'whence came the Great Worms'. Seems to be their original home in those mountains. The dwarves must have had settlements all around the Grey Mountains that were destroyed by the great beasts. Gundabad is only a stone's throw (or a dragons breath) away from the western edge of the Grey Mountains.
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Old 12-16-2011, 03:45 PM   #12
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The dragons weren't just in the Withered Heath, that's just 'whence came the Great Worms'. Seems to be their original home in those mountains. The dwarves must have had settlements all around the Grey Mountains that were destroyed by the great beasts. Gundabad is only a stone's throw (or a dragons breath) away from the western edge of the Grey Mountains.
That's true. Scatha, after all, was the Dragon who threatened Éothéod - and that was by the northern end of Anduin.

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And if the Iron Hills was not considered a wealthy enough target, why would dragons have bothered a newly resettled Gundabad, which would presumably have taken very many years to repopulate and enrich?
But we are talking about the reason why Dwarves had not resettled Gundabad. The idea of Dragons coming to Gundabad is purely hypothetical (or at least that's how I perceive this discussion). But if I am a Dwarf, and I am judging whether to resettle Gundabad or not, I am not going to say: "Let's go there, because Dragons won't come there after we resettle it at least for a couple of years before we gather some hoard there, and look at Iron Hills for comparison..." but I am rather going to say "Hey, people, you sure you want to resettle Gundabad? Even if we manage to get rid of the Orcs in there, which will certainly weaken us, what if a Dragon comes there once it hears we are back there again, and weakened?" I think the Dwarves are very practical in this, unless there is really great zeal about it, but we don't know about Gundabad holding any Arkenstone so that it would make the Dwarves' hearts blazing with fire just in order to see it.
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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In addition to what was already said, I think there was no treasure left to reclaim in Gundabad, unlike Erebor. And although it's a sacred place, I don't think it was ever a big Dwarven kingdom.

Moria didn't have any treasure either by the time of LOTR, but such a massive kingdom/structure is a treasure by itself, even without decorative riches.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:17 PM   #14
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Moria didn't have any treasure either by the time of LOTR
Maybe no loose treasure just lying around, but the wealth of Moria was in the lodes of Mithril (even if it no longer amounted to loads of Mithril ). Since the Balrog drove them out while they were still mining and seeking - it stands to reason that the lodes still had (at least) some Mithril remaining to be mined and extracted.
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Old 12-16-2011, 05:23 PM   #15
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Doesn't big G the Grey mention something about the treasure being drowned in water or in a shadow of fear? Without the Balrog, the fear will be removed so some treasure, at least, could be retrieved by the dwarves.
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Old 12-16-2011, 09:46 PM   #16
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But we are talking about the reason why Dwarves had not resettled Gundabad. The idea of Dragons coming to Gundabad is purely hypothetical (or at least that's how I perceive this discussion). But if I am a Dwarf, and I am judging whether to resettle Gundabad or not, I am not going to say: "Let's go there, because Dragons won't come there after we resettle it at least for a couple of years before we gather some hoard there, and look at Iron Hills for comparison..." but I am rather going to say "Hey, people, you sure you want to resettle Gundabad? Even if we manage to get rid of the Orcs in there, which will certainly weaken us, what if a Dragon comes there once it hears we are back there again, and weakened?" I think the Dwarves are very practical in this, unless there is really great zeal about it, but we don't know about Gundabad holding any Arkenstone so that it would make the Dwarves' hearts blazing with fire just in order to see it.
Since the Iron Hills were settled after the trouble the Dwarves had had with dragons when they initially tried to establish themselves in the Grey Mountains, and on the map they really do look approximately equidistant from the Withered heath as Gundabad, I just don't see fear of dragons as being a major factor in the failure of the Dwarves to reclaim the latter. If dragons had not come to the Iron Hills in all that time, why be troubled about Gundabad? I think there were other reasons.
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:17 AM   #17
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Since the Iron Hills were settled after the trouble the Dwarves had had with dragons when they initially tried to establish themselves in the Grey Mountains, and on the map they really do look approximately equidistant from the Withered heath as Gundabad, I just don't see fear of dragons as being a major factor in the failure of the Dwarves to reclaim the latter. If dragons had not come to the Iron Hills in all that time, why be troubled about Gundabad? I think there were other reasons.
Yes, of course they had other reasons: to settle Gundabad, you first had to wipe out the hosts of goblins there. Then there was the slight chance of a Dragon coming. Iron Hills didn't have the problem with the first prerequisite.

Also, if Iron Hills was something newly settled, then there is another good reason for the Dwarves to go there, of course: the chance to find something new in there. Gundabad was long explored and likely with nothing special in there.
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Old 12-17-2011, 03:43 PM   #18
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Since the Iron Hills were settled after the trouble the Dwarves had had with dragons
Actually, the Iron Hills had been inhabited by the Longbeards since the First Age according to Of Dwarves and Men

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you first had to wipe out the hosts of goblins there
The dwarves already had. They wiped out the orcs living there during the War of the Dwarves and Orcs. That's why the whole thing is puzzling to me.
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Old 12-17-2011, 05:14 PM   #19
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Actually, the Iron Hills had been inhabited by the Longbeards since the First Age according to Of Dwarves and Men
I was going off information from Appendix A.

That begs the question though, that if the Dwarves had been established in the Iron Hills for so long, why was it only in the Third Age that they settled Erebor?
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Old 12-17-2011, 06:31 PM   #20
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I was going off information from Appendix A.
I think the contradiction is more apparent than real.

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Gror, Dain's third son, went away with many followers to the Iron Hills
-Appendix A
That says that Gror went there, it doesn't say he founded the settlement there.

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That begs the question though, that if the Dwarves had been established in the Iron Hills for so long, why was it only in the Third Age that they settled Erebor?
That is another very good question. My speculation on it is that Erebor was out of the dwarves usual route before the fall of Khazad-dum and fell under the same category as the Grey Mountains which were "little explored."

Of course, this brings us to a real contradiction where in Dwarves and Men it is said that the Grey Mountains were part of the Longbeard's empire during their height in the Second Age...and then after the fall of Khazad-dum they were suddenly "little explored."

Part of what I think may be going on here is another aspect of Tolkien's struggle to reconcile the events in The Hobbit with the rest of the broader world and this is a bit that didn't get ironed out very well.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:03 PM   #21
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That begs the question though, that if the Dwarves had been established in the Iron Hills for so long, why was it only in the Third Age that they settled Erebor?
It's possible that the answer lies in its name. It's the Lonely Mountain. There's precious little room to expand a kingdom.
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Old 12-19-2011, 01:22 PM   #22
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Re-occupying old kingdoms seems to have been something of a racial obsession for the dwarves, at least as far as Khazad-dum and Erebor were concerned...but they didn't re-occupy Gundabad even after they had taken it and when they had no settled home.

This strikes me as odd.
What significance did Gundabad hold other than being the place where Durin awoke? Was it ever a dwelling place for other dwarves? My impression is that Durin left it soon after he awoke and eventually founded Khazad-dum.
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Old 02-27-2018, 05:44 AM   #23
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What significance did Gundabad hold other than being the place where Durin awoke? Was it ever a dwelling place for other dwarves? My impression is that Durin left it soon after he awoke and eventually founded Khazad-dum.
Another perspective on this springs out of the sometimes-theorised connection between dwarves and Judaism: there is a strong body of thought in modern-day Judaism that it is forbidden to set foot on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, partly because only high priests were permitted in the inner areas of the temple, but there's no way of knowing where exactly they were, so anyone visiting the Mount could enter them accidentally.

It's easy to imagine an analogous situation for Gundabad. The canon says that the mountain was used for gatherings; perhaps dwarves were only allowed to enter with the express permission of Durin. Any of the first three Durins would have been able to give that permission before the mountain was first sacked, so it would have been in irregular use up to the mid-Second Age; but the War of the Dwarves and Orcs took place under Thrain. He may simply not have had the authority to open up the holy place. Nor would any other king of the Longbeards, until Durin VII reigned in Khazad-dum.

Obviously this is purest speculation, but the idea fits well with how Tolkien crafted his world. Only the kings of Numenor could speak on the hallows on Meneltarma; without them, the three prayers to Iluvatar simply couldn't be spoken. The idea of royal authority being required for something to take place is deeply embedded in Middle-earth - think of the Palantiri needing the right to use them (hence the Steward of Gondor had better luck than Saruman the White!), or Maedhros and Maglor unable to forsake their oath without the approval of Iluvatar who they swore it to.

Obviously this isn't a Tolkien Approved Answer - the actual reason is probably 'the idea of the War post-dated The Hobbit, so they couldn't resettle Gundabad without messing up the geography later' - but I think it's a Tolkien-Friendly one.

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Old 03-01-2018, 10:10 AM   #24
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That is an interesting idea.

However, Thrain was King of Durin's Folk. It seems oddly specific that he could only give permission to access Gundabad if he was ruling from a specific place.
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Old 03-01-2018, 01:33 PM   #25
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It's not about where he was ruling from - it's about who he was. The dwarves believed that Durin was reincarnated, so any one of the seven Durins would (under this theory) have the authority to open the birthplace of Durin I. Other kings of his line wouldn't have the same authority.

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Old 03-01-2018, 07:56 PM   #26
Zigûr
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Is it possible that they suspected that, even if they were to retake Gundabad, the Orcs would simply return in a generation or two (as they did) and seize it from them again? "If this is victory, then our hands are too small to hold it." Even without a menace like the Balrog, perhaps the Dwarves knew that they simply didn't have the strength to hold Gundabad in the long term.
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Old 03-02-2018, 04:38 AM   #27
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Is it possible that they suspected that, even if they were to retake Gundabad, the Orcs would simply return in a generation or two (as they did) and seize it from them again? "If this is victory, then our hands are too small to hold it." Even without a menace like the Balrog, perhaps the Dwarves knew that they simply didn't have the strength to hold Gundabad in the long term.
That's actually very plausible (probably moreso than my not-so-crackpot theory). I feel like 'we recaptured but didn't reoccupy' is something that happens more than once in Tolkien - Osgiliath for one, but also the whole fall of Arnor. It fits the theme of Good being in decline even without Evil to directly oppose it - and also draws on Tolkien's experiences in the Great War, where the land recaptured during the Somme wasn't exactly repopulated.

The one downside is that it assumes the dwarves are willing to allow that much common sense in. Given that Thorin faced down a dragon to retake Erebor with 12 companions, and Balin took a stab at reclaiming Moria despite Dain (the king at the time) saying 'haha, if we do that we'll all die horribly'... would they really be deterred from populating Gundabad just by the threat of a few Orcs?

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Old 03-02-2018, 05:10 AM   #28
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The one downside is that it assumes the dwarves are willing to allow that much common sense in. Given that Thorin faced down a dragon to retake Erebor with 12 companions, and Balin took a stab at reclaiming Moria despite Dain (the king at the time) saying 'haha, if we do that we'll all die horribly'... would they really be deterred from populating Gundabad just by the threat of a few Orcs?
I'd say it's most likely in the utter exhaustion after Azanulbizar. The only person who seemed to have any remaining enthusiasm was Thráin, and Dáin immediately shut him down. The lords of the other houses were in a similar frame of mind to Ironfoot. After that discussion I can't imagine the reoccupation of any sites in the Misty Mountains being on the agenda. The text even states that after the battle the Dwarves stripped their dead "so that Orcs should not come and win there a store of weapons and mail." Seemingly they knew (or at least believed) that, despite their Pyrrhic victory, Orcs were still at large in the region.

By contrast, in the other cases the Dwarves were living comfortably and becoming restless.
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