Rangers of the North
Built originally by the Dúnedain of Rhudaur in S.A. 2800, Minas Eldanaryaron was seized by the armies of Angmar in T.A. 1325. The Witch-king sent strong patrols out of Minas Eldanaryaron to harass the Men of Arthedain.
Eldanar Castle is one of the oldest Númenórean castles in northwestern Middle-earth. Eldanar was one of the Faithful who came with Elendil the Tall out of the disaster of Númenor. The castle stands at the center of one of Elendil’s subsequent landgrants, one of the northernmost Arnorian estates. When Eldanar died while fighting in Mordor during the late Second Age, his son took over the lands and rebuilt his father’s modest fortress, creating its present design. The Eldanar family held the castle almost continuously thereafter, but it fell into the hands of the Angmarrim around T.A. 1325. Elenuil, the rightful lord of the castle, managed to flee through a secret tunnel with a handful of the defenders when the enemy stormed the stronghold a decade ago.
Elenuil’s (11th lvl) great grandson, Tarcandil, and his family fled to sanctuary in Fornost. The occupation of the castle was a source of shame for the entire family.
Though the castle was eventually reclaimed when the Witch-King’s armies were broken, the toll from the war and later the Great Plagues has left the castle derelict. Stories of Wights and other ghouls surround it, and the Rangers seem to shun it, although some say that is on account of Tarcandil’s shame. Anyone braving the gates will find it like a ghost-ship; as if someone simply left without packing. But were they men of Angmar or of Arnor…?
Eldanar Castle remains beautiful, despite its changing fortunes and decline. The fortress is surrounded by a wide, deep moat, almost entirely overgrown. The walls of the castle form six intersecting curves of once smoothly dressed pale golden stone. Delicate towers belie the strength of its construction, although on closer scrutiny at least two of the towers are mere shells, having collapsed inside. The exterior has a rough appearance from centuries of lacking maintenance.
After the original gate was destroyed in the taking of the castle, the stone masons of Angmar restored it, but proved less skillful than their Númenórean predecessors; the new gate, although ingeniously constructed, was not as strong as the old one.
At its widest point, the castle measures 300 feet across. Its walls are pierced by crossbow slits every 15 to 25 feet. The castle is divided into an inner and outer bailey. The outer contains barracks, stables, workshops, and accommodations for grooms, workers, and craftsmen. The inner bailey contains the donjon, which was also the noble’s residence.
The large square donjon is built of the same pale golden stone as the castle walls. The entrance to the keep is through a solid stone forebuilding with stairs that lead to a second story entrance. The interior is comfortable and secure.
There are no windows on the first story of the keep; windows on the second story are narrow, and the now broken glass is protected by steel shutters. On the third, fourth, and fifth stories the windows are wide and the chambers are light and spacious. These windows, which were also be protected by steel shutters, were covered by fine, high-quality glass, great portions of which is remarkably still standing in the frames.
The walls of the keep are seven feet thick and contain niches for crossbow Men. These were also covered with steel shutters when not in use. The rooms are large, and the furniture that was not destroyed in the sieges is exquisitely tasteful. An old overgrown garden and orchard adjoins the stronghold.
The old secret tunnel linking the master’s quarters and the countryside is one feature of Eldanar castle that has remained undiscovered. Its existence is unsuspected, since the conquerors found what they thought was the corpse of the lord of the castle. The tunnel would be almost impossible to discover in a search, for it is of Dwarven construction and remains hidden until the proper word (“Tintallo”) and key are used. The underground passage travels some three miles from the castle…