January 7, 2012

Uncandled Eggs - Ost Barandor

Read more about the Uncandled Eggs series here.

This post is dedicated to my first mystery - Ost Barandor.  I cannot connect this to any Tolkien lore.  Maybe I just have not looked in the correct places.  But it certainly seems like it SHOULD be straight from the lore somewhere!

Ost Barandor is a ruined fortress in the far northwest corner of Bree-land.  High above the rolling Brandy Hills, it isn't far from the spot where you find the giant Svalfang.  Don't confuse it with Ost Baranor, another ruins in the Chetwood near the Yellow Tree.

It is far from most quest lines and seldom visited except by node farmers and those curious enough to wonder about the high ruins they often see in the distance.  Nearby is Starmere Lake, another seemingly "actionless" area that is quite beautiful and tranquil.

The view from Ost Barandor stretches for miles around.  My favorite, as shown in the accompanying illustration, looks to the southeast.  To the right of the photo you can see the edge of the Old Forest, and the land slowly climbing up to the high hills surrounding the Barrow Downs.  You can also spot the farm overrun by brigands to the north of Adso's Camp.  A view of the northeast would look out over Starmere Lake toward the northern Bree-fields.  To the west of Ost Barandor, the view of the Brandywine Bridge is unfortunately obscured by hills and trees, but you can see stretches of the brown Brandywine River and The Shire on the other side.

Berephon of Turbine confirms that Ost Barandor translates as "Fortress of the Brown Land."  Baranduin is of course Sindarin for "golden-brown river," and the brown-toned water is most definitely rendered so in LOTRO.  The Hobbits had a bit of fun with the name at several points, calling it Branda-nîn, the "border water" in their Westron terms, and later Bralda-hîm, the "heady ale."

I can't help but wonder when this fortress was built, and by whom.  This region was once part of the Kingdom of Arnor long ago.  When Arnor was broken into smaller kingdoms, I believe this place would have been on the borderline of Arthedain and Cardolan.

In 1636, the Great Plague killed the King in Gondor and spread north and west, devastating much of the population.  The kingdom of Cardolan was particularly decimated with very few surviving.  One can't help but wonder if Ost Barandor was struck by that plague, leaving it deserted to fall into ruins.  Possibly the barrows of some of its inhabitants can be found inside those Downs to the southeast.

I'm more than happy to be proved wrong.  If anyone can provide references for Ost Barandor appearing anywhere in Tolkien lore, by all means please post here!  At any rate, if you have never bothered to explore this very quiet corner of Bree-land, the view is not to be missed.

Sources:  The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F


  1. I've always figured this was a fortress, built either by Cardolan or Arnor, that belonged to Cardolan as I believe the Brandywine served as the eastern border of Arthedain.

    Either way, a great find.

  2. Ost Barandor is probably one of my favorite ruins in Breeland, not only because of the dramatic views it affords, but also because it so compact and logically laid out, it is easy to imagine what it looked like in its heyday (which is actually quite pretty...I have considered making fanart of it.) I cannot offer any real insight to its purpose, but it is located just across the river from the Hillshire Ruins, which the deed log describes as the old sister city to Bree. Given the look of the ruins, and the unfortified rear that overlooks the ruined town (and that it even looks a bit house-like,) I tend to think that it was the palace and fortress of the governor or steward of Hillshire...But this is purely speculation on my part!