How tall is Barad-dur?

deorcengel
Posts: 14

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#1 » Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:06 pm

Do we have any data about the height of Barad-dur or Orthanc?

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galin
Posts: 1369

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#2 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:54 am

Hmmm... don't remember at the moment about the Dark Tower, but I remember posting on Orthanc (somewhere), and if I recall correctly the text says that between the horns of Orthanc was a narrow space, and there a man might stand five hundred feet above the plain.


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grondmaster
Posts: 25451

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#3 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 3:10 pm

Galin is correct about Orthanc's height, it is so stated in 'The Road to Isengard' in TTT as part of the description of Isengard found just before Gandalf and Theoden's party reached the bloody great white hand pillar.

I haven't been able to find any height for Barad-dûr; though if one were to scale-up Peter Jackson's movie model of the tower, it would be about 5000 feet high. Of course this was mere artistic conjecture by the movie makers and has no basis from Tolkien's writings, as near as I can tell.
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arath
Posts: 661

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#4 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 11:28 pm

the dark tower was so tall that if you would have jumped down from it you should have about 30-20 seconds of airtime before you hit the ground
thats tall...

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Lord Of All
Posts: 633

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#5 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:41 am

Whilst there are no definitive quotes about the height of Barad-dur we can make some vague estimations.

As already stated about the height of Orthanc:

"Between them was a narrow space, and there upon a floor of polished stone, written with strange signs, a man might stand [u]five hundred feet[/u] above the plain. This was Orthanc, the citadel of Saruman, the name of which had (by design or chance) a twofold meaning; for in the Elvish speech orthanc signifies Mount Fang, but in the language of the Mark of old the Cunning Mind."

But here is a folloewing quote which gives a gigantic estimate of how much bigger Barad-dur was then Orthanc:

"But Saruman had slowly shaped it to his shifting purposes, and made it better, as he thought, being deceived-for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor; so that [u]what he made was naught, only a little copy, a child's model or a slave's flattery, of that vast fortress, armoury, prison, furnace of great power, Barad-dûr, the Dark Tower, which suffered no rival, and laughed at flattery, biding its time, secure in its pride and its immeasurable strength[/u]."

If Orthanc at 500 feet was a 'little copy' of Barad-dur (of course this doesn't always refer to height, it also refers to the scale of the other dimensions of Barad-dur) it does indeed give a very large scope to work with.

We can narrow down the height a little more:

"Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain." (refering to Minas Tirith)

"Then turning south again he beheld Minas Tirith. Far away it seemed, and beautiful: white-walled, many-towered, proud and fair upon its mountain-seat; its battlements glittered with steel, and its turrets were bright with many banners. Hope leaped in his heart. [u]But against Minas Tirith was set another fortress, greater and more strong[/u]. Thither, eastward, unwilling his eye was drawn. It passed the ruined bridges of Osgiliath, the grinning gates of Minas Morgul, and the haunted Mountains, and it looked upon Gorgoroth, the valley of terror in the Land of Mordor. Darkness lay there under the Sun. Fire glowed amid the smoke. Mount Doom was burning, and a great reek rising. Then at last his gaze was held: [u]wall upon wall, battlement upon battlement, black, immeasurably strong, mountain of iron, gate of steel, tower of adamant, he saw it: Barad-dûr, Fortress of Sauron[/u]. All hope left him."

This is a little more vague. But from the first quote which names Orthanc as a little copy and Minas tirith being described as considerably smaller than Barad dur I think so far we can estimate a height of at least 1800-2000 feet.

Lastly... Mt Doom. Orodruin stood about 4500 feet from pinnacle to base, which is clearly described in Karen-wynn fonstadd's 'the Atlas of Tolkien's middle-earth'. The 'tumbled shoulders' of the mountain stood some 3000 feet high and then the central cone, which Sammath Naur was built into nearer the lower half stood a further 1500 feet. This places the Doorway into the mountain at around 3200 feet high. Now the next part is complete supposition but it is possible, and quite a 'Sauronish' thing to do, but I would say he built that doorway level with his topmost chamber in barad-dur where he gazed forth from with his palantir. Otherwise he could have built this doorway lower down in the mountain (or built barad-dur taller to match it).

Therefore concluding I would say Barad-dur is at the very least 2000 feet high but if you take my last theory I would place its estimate at between 2800-3400 feet.
But if you merely wished to know this to see if its the biggest fortress in Tolkien's myth then I would say no.
Thangorodrim were three mountains actually built by the orcs from the delving of Angband. They were hollow and clearly had many inhabitible chambers within. I would class this as a 'Built structure' of sorts. Therefore if you count this then the biggest built structure in Tolkien's myth measured, giving a good estimation from 'The Atlas of Tolkien's middle-earth', approximately 35,000 feet high, about 6.5 miles (roughly) and I beleive taller than Mt Everest which of course was not made by hands. It was the tallest peak in Middle-earth, surpassed only by the highest tower Oillose (not sure of spelling) on Taniquetil where Manwe and Varda dwell, and possibly* Kalorme, the highest mountain in the Lands of Sun, far east of Middle-earth across the eastern sea.
The only other mountain towers to ever surpass these three were the Pillars of Light which were made by the Valar and "Varda filled the lamps and Manwë hallowed them, and the Valar set them upon high pillars, more lofty far than are any mountains of the later days." These lights of course were afterwards overthrown by Morgoth.

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galin
Posts: 1369

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#6 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:08 am

The Dubai Tower (Burj Dubai) is currently going for the *record. Taipei 101 is about 1670 ft (this varies a bit according to the source); and in general it depends upon what is being counted too, like a spire on top for example.

Maybe Deorcengel means how tall was the Dark Tower itself, as opposed to how high it might have stood, considering it is described as founded upon a mighty mountain-throne above immeasurable pits. In Tolkien's drawing what seems to be the base of the tower appears to sit upon a thrust of stone, itself already high.

In an early conception of Orthanc the tower sat upon a mountain-like base in one sketch; and in one draft one could stand a thousand feet above the plain because the tower sat upon a mound.
_____
*according to an article in July the developer wants the tower to be the world's tallest building according to all four criteria listed by the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, which measures buildings to the structural top, the highest occupied floor, the top of the roof and the tip of the spire or flagpole.

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virumor
Posts: 3567

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#7 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 12:10 pm

the dark tower was so tall that if you would have jumped down from it you should have about 30-20 seconds of airtime before you hit the ground

That corresponds to a height of almost 4.5 kilometres.
Give up the Halfring, she-elf...

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grondmaster
Posts: 25451

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#8 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 2:50 pm

Well Sauron was setting himself up to be a god and thus need a tall mountain upon which to live. Compare this with the gods' domain in ancient Greece and on Diskworld. Also the ancient Babylonians built a tower trying to impress God with what they could do on their own. "The bigger they are the harder they fall" and "Don't get too big for your britches" comes to mind when thinking about tall towers. I do hope this ancient history doesn't apply to these newest modern ones. And now we are trying to build a space elevator to reach even higher towards heaven. God has allowed the invention of wings made of wax, steel and carbon-fiber, but there is always a price to pay. I'm rambling here, but I think there must be a point somewhere in it. :elfbiggrin:
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deorcengel
Posts: 14

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#9 » Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:34 pm

I just mean the height of Barad-dur itself. I have read your posts and now I think Barad-dur is so tall...This question just came to my mind when someone asked me about it.

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Lord Of All
Posts: 633

How tall is Barad-dur?

Post#10 » Fri Nov 02, 2007 4:37 am

Also don't forget that it might not be quite so vertically orientated as the film shows. It could indeed have been a central tower with many smaller ones leading of it but more likely it had a width and length to match its height, unlike that shown in the film.

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