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Thread: Kheled-zaram

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They stooped over the dark water. At first they could see nothing. Then sloly they saw the forms of encircling mountains mirrored in a profound blue, and the peaks were like plumes of white flame above them; beyond there was a space of sky. There like jewels sunk in the deep shone glinting stars, though sunlight was in the sky above. Of their own stooping forms no shadow could be seen.

OK. What's the deal with the Encircling Mountains and the Mirrormere? Encircling Mountains == Gondolin? Any explanations?
Nothing to do with Gondolin. This is Dwarven business. They called it Kheled-zar’m because the lake always reflects the stars.

The encircling mountains are the Misty Mountains. Remember that Kheled-zar’m lay in a vale in the mountains.
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-d’m.
But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in waters deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep.

- the last stanza of Gimli's song found in 'A Journey in the Dark' of TTT.
Quite right. The mountains encircling Gondolin were the Crissaegrim, which were drowned out at the end of the First Age.
The Echoriad were the Encircling Mountains about Gondolin (the Crissaegrim were south of Gondolin however).
'Dark is the water of Kheled-z’ram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-n’la, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-d’m in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone.' She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer.
He rose clumsily and bowed in dwarf-fashion, saying: `Yet more fair is the living land of L’rien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth! '

- FOTR, Chapter 7, The mirror of Galadriel
Just in case: the recent chat about the Encircling Mountains about Gondolin doesn't mean 'we' (including Cloveress I would guess) think the Mirrormere was reflecting them.
Of course not, Elf Winking Smilie there was way too much water covering the mountains of Gondolin; and it wasn't the frigid fresh water of the Mirrowmere, but the seawater of the Belegaer, the Great Sea of the West. Besides the Mirrormere only reflected the stars, even in daylight, due to the height of the surrounding mountains,

This reflection was similar to the non-reflective view seen by the three hunters and Dunedain accompanying them on their way to the Stone of Erech.
...the company passed through another gateway, high-arched and broad, and a rill ran out beside them; and beyond, going steeply down, was a road between sheer cliffs, knife-edged against the sky far above, So deep and narrow was the chasm that the sky was dark, and in it small stars glinted. Yet as Gimli after learned it was still two hours ere sunset of the day on which they had set out from Dunharrow; though for all he could tell it might have been twilight in some later year, or in some other world. - from 'The Passing of the Grey Company' of RotK.
Well, one could see mountains in the Mirrormere too, which is what sparked the question in the original post of course (though I note the 'wink' in any case).

Now I don't agree it has anything to do with Gondolin (though it's interesting to note that Tumladen was once a great lake) but had this been an Elvish site, and a connection to ancient Gondolin had been made in an even tenuous way, the fact that Beleriand was drowned in the past would not necessarily mean a vision of the mountains about Gondolin was impossible.

The Mirrormere cannot be explained by science as far as I know (a very good thing in my opinion), but as Virumor already posted, 'encircling' mountains is arguably just Tolkien's choice of wording here. With respect to the passage Grondmaster brought up, Hammond And Scull note in their recent Reader's Companion:

'David Cofield comments in 'Harbringer of Fate: The Eclipse of 3019' in Beyond Bree, October 1993, that it was 'an ancient tradition that observers at the bottom of a deep gorge, cavern, well, or chimney are able to see stars in the daylight sky', but recent research has shown 'that the glare of the sun and the atmospheric scattering of its light make it impossible to see any star (except the sun itself) from the earth's surface [in daylight] with the naked eye' (p. 3).

In reply, Carl Hostetter comments in a letter to Beyond Bree for November 1993 that even if the 'chimney effect' is disproved, 'it is clear from Tolkien's own explanation that he believed [it] to be an authentic phenomenon, which is really all that matters' (p. 8).'

Anyway, if the reflection of stars in the Mirrormere is that of Durin's time in a distant past, so too could some 'mystic' body of water reflect other things... even things already under the Sea with respect to time. But again, I agree we happen to have the word 'encircling' here rather than some cogent connection to Gondolin.
The encircling mountains should have nothing to do with Gondolin. After all, the Dwarves were not involved in it at all. I don't recall Turgon enlisting the Naugrim to help build his top-secret castle-city, and I don't think the Drawves had any direct connection to the history of Gondolin. It makes little sense for their sacred pool to reflect it.

The "encircling mountains" seen can simply be the the Misty Mountains, or some ancient lair of the Dwarves (they like mountains, right?). The emphasis of the pool, I think, lies not in the mountains, but the stars and the wonder that no shadow of the viewer is cast upon the pool.

In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in deep water
Till Durin wakes again from sleep

I always wondered at this part. Does anybody know more about this? I mean why is Durin's crown kept in the mirrormere? Was it a test for the awakening Durin to retrieve his crown from the mirrormere?

Moreover Gimli doesn't seem to regard this as a secret. So if it was known that Durin's crown lay in the mirrormere woudn't that attract pillagers?
From Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle-earth:
Durin's Crown Constellation of seven stars, the modern Plough, first seen by Durin I reflected around his head in Kheled-z’ram. Ever after, the reflection of Durin's Crown could be seen in the lake, even in daytime.
The Plough, also called the Big Dipper) is part of Ursa Major. I wonder what star a straight line from Merak through Dubhe and beyond pointed to back then; was it still Polaris, our North Star, located at the end of the Little Dipper's handle in Ursa Minor.
Thanks Grondy. You have enlightened me. Now I understand better. But then why does gimli say hat his crown lies there till Durin awakes?
Maybe when Durin wakes at the end of Middle-earth time he will wear his "Crown" (The Big Dipper) like a baseball hat with the brim in back, like All-Star baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr. used to do playfully when he sat in the dugout back when he first came to the big leagues. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie