The Noldor III (Dagor Bragollach to the end of the Nirnaeth)
After many years of comparative peace, during which the Elves became numerous and strong, Fingolfin pondered once more about an attack on Angband. But most of the Noldor were content to leave the impasse as it was, and not to risk the wrath of Morgoth. Of the lords of the Noldor, only Angrod and Aegnor sided with their King in favour of action.
However, while they were deciding what to do, Morgoth gathered his forces and sent rivers of flame and fire down from Thangorodrim, and poisonous gases rose from the Mountains of Iron. Ard-galen was utterly despoiled, and became a deserted waste, then being known Anfauglith, the Gasping Dust. Many of the Noldor died in that burning, and it marked the start of the Fourth Battle of Beleriand, the Dagor Bragollach.
Glaurung the golden was at the front of Morgoth’s host, leading Balrogs and innumerable Orcs. They broke the Siege of Angband and assaulted the Noldor, as well as any allies who were with them (including grey-elves and Men). This sudden onslaught scattered the forces of Fingolfin, the grey-elves fleeing south – many to Doriath, but some to Nargothrond or Ossiriand.
The Dagor Bragollach proved absolutely devastating to the Noldor, and ended only when the forces of Morgoth retreated somewhat, having the broken the back of the Elven defences – and their confidence.
The war’s effect on the House of Fingolfin
– Fingolfin and Fingon’s hosts took great losses, and were driven back to the fortresses of the Ered Wethrin.
– Hador and Gundor of the Third House of the Edain fell defending the rearguard of Fingolfin.
– Hithlum itself remained unconquered, but Fingolfin was parted from the other Noldor by the enemy.
The war’s effect on the House of Fëanor
– Nearly all the eastern marches were taken by Morgoth’s hordes though Maedhros managed to hold his fortress of Himring. Many of the people of Dorthonion and the eastern Marches rallied to his flag, as did Maglor, and for a while he managed to help hold the Pass of Aglon.
“Maedhros did deeds of surpassing valour, and the Orcs fled before his face; for since his torment upon Thangorodrim his spirit burned like a white fire within, and he was as one that returns from the dead.” (Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)
– Celegorm and Curufin were defeated in the Pass of Aglon, and they fled to Nargothrond to shelter with Finrod.
– Orcs overran Lothlann, passed through Maglor’s Gap, and destroyed all his lands between the arms of the Gelion.
– Caranthir’s lands were also destroyed, with Orcs taking the fortress on Mount Rerir and defiling Lake Helevorn. He fled, and joined his people to the scattered folk of Amrod and Amras. The combined horde then went southwards, past Ramdal, and maintained a watch upon Amon Ereb.
The war’s effect on the House of Finarfin
– Angrod and Aegnor were slain and Finrod escaped death only through the aid of Barahir. This formed the start of the alliance between Finrod and the House of Bëor, symbolised by the gift of the Ring of Barahir.
– Orodreth defended Tol Sirion.
The Fall of Fingolfin
By the end of the battle, it seemed to Fingolfin that all around him the Noldor were spiralling towards a bitter defeat that would signify the end of all their Houses. In despair he mounted upon Rochallor and rode forth alone to Angband.
“He passed over Dor-nu-Fauglith like a wind amid the dust, and all that beheld his onset fled in amaze, thinking that Oromë himself was come: for a great madness of rage was upon him, so that his eyes shone like the eyes of the Valar.” (Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)
Praise indeed – for the Vala Oromë was a particular foe of Morgoth:
“there Oromë would train his folk and his beasts for the pursuit of the evil creatures of Melkor.” (Silmarillion, Valaquenta)
“Then the sleeping earth trembled at the beat of his golden hooves, and in the twilight of the world Oromë would sound the Valaróma his great horn upon the plains of Arda; whereat the mountains echoed, and the shadows of evil fled away, and Melkor himself quailed in Utumno, foreboding the wrath to come.” (Silmarillion, Of the Beginning of Days)
Tolkien only ever referred to one other person as being like Oromë – and that was Théoden as he rode to his death at the Pelennor Fields. Fingolfin’s desperate charge has the same feeling as Théoden and the Rohirrim’s ‘death and glory’ charge – both were described as fey, both were sure that they went to their deaths, and both were a willing sacrifice for their people.
What distinguishes Fingolfin from Théoden is that Fingolfin didn’t need to ride to fight Morgoth. In Théoden’s case he had to be at the head of the army, giving the Rohirrim behind him courage and strength. Fingolfin’s charge was more of a suicidal impulse, which was pretty much guaranteed to leave his people kingless, and deeply wounded by his death. He left his people to face Morgoth without him.
But in his final deed, Fingolfin showed some of the Noldorin spark of life that was so prevalent in his half-brother, and he rode to Angband, sounded his horn, and challenged Morgoth to come forth to single combat.
“[Morgoth] issued forth clad in black armour; and he stood before the King like a tower, iron-crowned, and his vast shield, sable unblazoned, cast a shadow over him like a stormcloud. But Fingolfin gleamed beneath it like a star; for his mail was overlaid with silver, and his blue shield was set with crystals; and he drew his sword Ringil, that glittered like ice.” (Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)
Morgoth came forth, attacking Fingolfin with Grond, the Hammer of the Underworld. Fingolfin managed to injure the Vala seven times before he was borne down by Morgoth’s shield. Three times was he brought to his knees, and three times he rose up to fight again, but eventually he fell backwards at the feet of Morgoth, and Morgoth ended his life. With his last desperate stroke, Fingolfin hewed the foot of the Dark Lord with Ringil, and black blood gushed forth.
“Thus died Fingolfin, High King of the Noldor, most proud and valiant of the Elven-kings of old.” (Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)
Fingolfin died a hero’s death, the only one of the Children of Ilúvatar to injure a Vala. After he died, Thorondor came swooping down to rescue his body from the wolves of Morgoth, and his body was laid on a mountain top that looked north upon Gondolin. Turgon later built a cairn over his father.
In his challenge and death, Fingolfin echoed the actions of Fëanor many years before. But their motives could not be more different. Fingolfin’s charge showed the essence of doom-laden courage – going forth to fight evil even without hope of victory. Fëanor’s charge, on the other hand, was full of pride, anger and self-interest. Fingolfin’s death seemed courageous – in the best traditions of chivalry – and wholehearted. Fëanor’s seemed a waste, a life thrown away through madness and arrogance.
The fallout from the Dagor Bragollach
After Fingolfin’s death, Fingon became the lord of the House of Fingolfin, and the King of the Noldor.
For two years after the Dagor Bragollach, the Noldor remained busy defending the western pass around the sources of the Sirion. Then Sauron came forth against Orodreth, the warden of Tol Sirion, and took Minas Tirith by force. Orodreth was driven out, and fled to Nargothrond. Sauron then made Tol Sirion into a watchtower for Morgoth, and the isle was renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves.
This island gave Morgoth control over both the eastern and western passes from Anfauglith into Beleriand, and he was then in a position to send his forces through Hithlum and beyond, taking the strongholds of the elves one by one. Orcs roved down the Rivers Celon and Sirion, finally encompassing Doriath, and many Noldor and Sindar were captured and taken to Angband, where they were made to serve Morgoth.
The atmosphere throughout Beleriand was one of suspicion and doubt, clouded with despair and fear. But while Morgoth’s spies were known to rove through the land, the Noldor had greater fear for those of their kin that Morgoth had released from Angband.
“for Morgoth used some of these for his evil purposes, and feigning to give them liberty sent them abroad, but their wills were chained to his, and they strayed only to come back to him again. Therefore if any of his captives escaped in truth, and returned to their own people, they had little welcome, and wandered alone outlawed and desperate.” (Silmarillion, Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin)
This is an obvious foretelling of the story of Húrin, and is an early example of the cruelty of Morgoth. The Dark Lord wasn’t just terrible and dictatorial, but also sadist and cruel. It amused him to play with people’s minds, and to have managed to make the Noldor most fearful of their own kin must have pleased him greatly.
Seven years after the Dagor Bragollach, Morgoth sent a great force against Hithlum, so large that Fingon found it hard to hold back the army, and battle was joined on the plains of Hithlum. In the hour of the elves’ greatest need, the ships of Círdan sailed up the Firth of Drengist, and came upon the host of Morgoth from the west. The Orcs then broke and fled.
The Quest for the Silmaril
In the time after the Dagor Bragollach, Beren son of Barahir, a mortal of the First House of the Edain, fell in love with Lúthien, the daughter of Elu Thingol of the Sindar. When Beren declared himself to Thingol in Doriath, Thingol set him the task of regaining one of the Silmarils from Morgoth’s crown before he would allow Lúthien to marry him.
A number of Noldorin elves played parts in the subsequent Quest, though only in subsidiary roles.
When Beren left the house of Thingol, he made his way into Nargothrond, and was taken to Finrod. Felagund was put into an awkward position by the arrival of Beren – he wanted to uphold his oath to Barahir, but at the same time, Curufin and Celegorm were dwelling with him, and he felt familial loyalty to them and their people. So Finrod spoke to his people, reminding them of his oath to Barahir, and requesting their aid for Beren in his Quest. At this, Celegorm stood up and reminded Nargothrond of the claim of the House of Fëanor on the Silmarils:
“Be he friend or foe, whether demon of Morgoth, or Elf, or child of Men, or any other living thing in Arda, neither law, nor love, nor league of hell, nor might of the Valar, nor any power of wizardry, shall defend him from the pursuing hate of Fëanor’s sons, if he take or find a Silmaril and keep it. For the Silmarils we alone claim, until the world ends.”
With those words, Celegorm and his brother Curufin were set against Beren, who, of course, needed a Silmaril to win the hand of Lúthien. The doom of the Noldor again came into play, and dark thoughts entered the minds of Celegorm and Curufin. They thought to send Finrod to his death, allowing them to take the throne of Nargothrond, re-establishing the superiority of the eldest line of Finwë.
Beren and Finrod’s journey
Finrod’s chieftains would not support his decision to aid Beren, but Felagund was resolute in his desire. Only ten men followed him on his travels, and he gave his kingdom over to Orodreth to rule while he was away.
Near the start of their journey, they came across a party of Orcs, slew them, and Finrod’s magic gave his party their shapes and faces. Thus disguised they carried on. But Sauron became aware of them, and when they reached Tol-in-Gaurhoth, he had them taken captive and brought before him.
“Thus befell the contest of Sauron and Felagund which is renowned. For Felagund strove with Sauron in songs of power, and the power of the King was very great; but Sauron had the mastery.” (Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien)
The full story of the contest is given here.
Sauron stripped the companions of their disguise, but though they stood before him naked and afraid, their purpose and names remained hidden. He then cast them into a deep pit, and threatened to kill them cruelly unless one of them told him of their names and purpose.
“From time to time they saw two eyes kindled in the dark, and a werewolf devoured one of the companions; but none betrayed their lord.” (Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien)
Sauron kept Beren and Felagund alive till last, but eventually he sent the werewolf for Beren. When the beast appeared, Finrod put forth all his power and burst his bonds. He wrestled with the werewolf and slew it with his hands and teeth. During the battle, he was mortally injured, and after bidding farewell to Beren, he died there in the dark of Tol-in-Gaurhoth, in the tower which he built many years before. In that hour, Finrod redeemed his oath to the House of Barahir.
Lúthien’s rescue of Beren
When Beren was thrown into the pit, Lúthien felt horror creep into her heart, and she slipped away from Doriath to rescue him. On her journey she came across Celegorm, Curufin and Huan, returning from a wolf hunting expedition. Huan came across her and took her back to Celegorm. When Lúthien found out that he was a prince of the Noldor, she cast aside her disguise, and Celegorm was blinded by her beauty. He became enamoured of her, and promised that he would help her quest if she returned with him to Nargothrond, but he did not mention that he already knew of Beren and his quest, and that the Silmarils were also his goal.
But when they were in Nargothrond, the brothers held her captive, taking away her elven cloak and not permitting her to pass the city gates. They thought Beren and Finrod dead, and so purposed to keep Lúthien and force Thingol to give her hand to Celegorm. With that, they would easily be seen as the most powerful of the Noldor princes – and then they thought that they would have the power base from which to pursue the Silmarils.
However, Huan helped Lúthien escape, and she fled Nargothrond. Eventually she reached Tol-in-Gaurhoth and rescued Beren.
“They buried the body of Felagund upon the hill-top of his own isle, and it was clean again; and the green grave of Finrod Finarfin’s son, fairest of all the princes of the Elves, remained inviolate, until the land was changed and broken, and foundering under destroying seas. But Finrod walks with Finarfin his father beneath the trees in Eldamar.” (Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien)
After Sauron’s hold on Tol-in-Gaurhoth was lost, many Noldor who had been imprisoned there were freed, and returned to Nargothrond. There they lamented the fall of Finrod, and rebuked the sons of Fëanor for not coming to their rescue. Many perceived that Celegorm and Curufin’s motive was treachery, and the hearts of the Noldor were released from the dominion of the brothers. They turned instead to Orodreth, the son of Finarfin, to lead them.
Orodreth refused to kill Celegorm and Curufin, for he knew that the act would bind the Doom of Mandos even tighter to the Noldor. But he exiled them from his realm, and swore that there would be little love thereafter between the sons of Fëanor and Finarfin.
“”Let it be so!” said Celegorm, and there was a light of menace in his eyes; but Curufin smiled. Then they took horse and rode away like fire, to find if they might their kindred in the east. But none would go with them, not even those that were of their own people; for all perceived that the curse lay heavily upon the brothers, and that evil followed them. In that time Celebrimbor the son of Curufin repudiated the deeds of his father, and remained in Nargothrond; yet Huan followed still the horse of Celegorm his master.” (Silmarillion, Of Beren and Lúthien)
While they were riding near Doriath’s borders, they again came across Beren and Lúthien. Celegorm tried to ride down Beren, while Curufin scooped up Lúthien onto his horse. But Beren managed to leap onto the back of Curufin’s horse, and all three of them fell onto the ground. While Beren was throttling Curufin, Celegorm rode upon him with a spear. Then Huan deserted his master’s service, and sprang upon him so that Beren was saved.
Beren then took Curufin’s horse from Lúthien, and the two brothers rode away on Celegorm’s horse. As they were riding away, Curufin was filled with shame and malice, and he took Celegorm’s bow and shot back towards Lúthien. Huan managed to catch the first arrow in his mouth, but the second hit Beren. The brothers then rode off, leaving Beren and Lúthien to carry on with their adventures that would eventually see them arriving at Thangorodrim to claim a Silmaril.
When the deeds of Beren and Lúthien became known throughout Beleriand, Maedhros began to realise that Morgoth was not unassailable, but he also knew that if the elves did not unite and act, the Dark Lord would destroy them all, one by one. So he began a series of counsels known as the Union of Maedhros, though the fell effects of the Oath of Fëanor worked against him, and less aid came than he would want.
Those who came were:
– Fingon and his men.
– The other sons of Fëanor and their people.
– Elves from the Falas.
– Gwindor son of Guilin and his company from Nargothrond. They marched under the flag of Fingon against the will of Orodreth.
– Mablung and Beleg from Doriath, again marching under the flag of Fingon. Thingol had given them leave to go, as long as they did not fight alongside the sons of Fëanor.
– The Naugrim – important in armed force and in weaponry.
– Men of Bór and Ulfang, and their kinsfolk from the East.
– Men of Haleth, led by Haldir.
– Turgon and 10000 men from Gondolin turned up during the Nirnaeth.
Those who would not come were:
– Orodreth and the majority of the elves of Nargothrond – because of the deeds of Celegorm and Curufin.
– The Elves of Doriath, except Mablung and Beleg.
However, Maedhros tried out his army too soon, before his plans were fully formed, and Morgoth received warning of the uprising. He then sent many spies and workers of treason among the Union, for he had many faithless Men of his secret allegiance deep in the employ of the sons of Fëanor.
Maedhros’ battle plan
Maedhros resolved to assault Angband both from the east and the west. He and his forces would march with banners fully displayed over Anfauglith to draw forth the armies of Morgoth. Then Fingon would come forth from the passes of Hithlum, and catch the dark forces as between a hammer and anvil. The signal for this was to be the firing of a beacon in Dorthonion on Midsummer’s Day.
What actually happened in the battle
Fingon was based in Eithel Sirion, with his troops arrayed in the valleys and the woods in the eastern Ered Wethrin. His host consisted of the Noldor of Hithlum, the Elves of the Falas, Gwindor’s company, Men from Dor-lómin and the companies of Húrin, Huor and Haldir. His host was boosted just before the battle by his brother Turgon, who marched to war with 10000 of his Gondolindrim.
“Then when Fingon heard afar the great trumpet of Turgon his brother, the shadow passed and his heart was uplifted, and he shouted aloud: “Utúlie’n aurë! Aiya Eldalië ar Atanatári, utúlie’n aurë! The day has come! Behold, people of the Eldar and Fathers of Men, the day has come!” And all those who heard his great voice echo in the hills answered crying: “Auta i lómë! The night is passing!”” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
Morgoth then chose his hour – trusting that his servants were holding back Maedhros and his forces – sent a great force towards Hithlum, wearing dun raiment and showing no naked steel. Thus they were far over Anfauglith before their approach was seen.
It was only through the words and wisdom of Húrin that the hot-headed Noldor were kept back from an immediate attack. But the Captain of Morgoth in the west had been ordered to draw Fingon out as soon as possible, and he marched his troops right up to the Sirion, next to Eithel Sirion. Still Fingon refused to come out. So then the Captain sent out riders with tokens of parley, and they took with them Gelmir son of Guilin, a lord of Nargothrond that had been captured in the Dagor Bragollach. In front of the elves, they chopped off his hands and feet, and finally his head.
In the outworks was Gwindor of Nargothrond, brother of Gelmir. When he saw the orcs’ treatment of his brother, he was kindled to madness, and he pursued the heralds with his men. He slew many of them, then carried on fighting through Morgoth’s troops.
“And seeing this all the host of the Noldor was set on fire, and Fingon put on his white helm and sounded his trumpets, and all the hosts of Hithlum leapt forth from the hills in sudden onslaught. The light of the drawing of the swords of the Noldor was like a fire in a field of reeds; and so fell and swift was their onset that almost the designs of Morgoth went astray.” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
Fingon and his army then sliced through the host of Morgoth, and his banners were soon raised in front of Angband. Gwindor and his men carried on into Angband itself, and there all were slain, save Gwindor himself, who was taken captive.
Morgoth then let forth his main host, and Fingon was beaten back with great loss. And thus began the “Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Unnumbered Tears, for no song or tale can contain all its grief”. Fingon retreated over Anfauglith, and during that withdrawal, Haldir lord of the Haladin and most of the Men of Brethil were slain.
On the fifth day of war, the Orcs surrounded the host of Hithlum, and they battled all day. On the sixth day, Turgon and his Gondolindrim left the guard position at the Pass of Sirion and came to Fingon’s aid.
“the Gondolindrim were strong and clad in mail, and their ranks shone like a river of steel in the sun.” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
At the third hour of the morning, Turgon fought his way through to his brother. Then the trumpets of Maedhros were heard coming from the east, and his host assailed the rear of Morgoth’s army. Just as the Orc army was wavering, Morgoth released his last strength, and Angband was emptied. From the fortress came wolves, wolfriders, Balrogs, and dragons – including Glaurung. The Father of Dragons terrified all who saw him, and he came between the hosts of Maedhros and Fingon, sweeping them apart.
The treachery of Men
It was possible that the Elves would have triumphed if it wasn’t for the treachery of Men. Many of Maedhros’ Easterling forces turned and fled, but the sons of Ulfang suddenly went over to Morgoth and started attacking the rear of the Sons of Fëanor’s hosts.
There, Maglor killed Uldor the accursed, the leader of the treason, and the sons of Bór killed Ulfast and Ulwarth. But Ulfang had previously hidden another force of Men in the eastern hills, and then they came to battle. They enclosed the army of Maedhros on three sides, forcing it to break and flee.
Only a remnant of the eastern army of the Noldor survived and regathered, and they hewed a way out of the battle, escaping towards Mount Dolmed.
“And Uldor went over to Morgoth with most of the men of Ulfang, and they fell upon the right flank of the Sons of Fëanor.
Cranthir slew Uldor, but Ulfast and Ulwar slew Bor and his three sons, and many faithful men; and the host of Maidros was scattered to the winds, and the remnant fled far into hiding into East Beleriand and the South, and wandered there in sorrow.” (The Lost Road and Other Writings, Later Annals of Beleriand)
Last of all the eastern forces to remain standing were the Dwarves of Belegost. They encircled Glaurung, hacking at him with their axes, and eventually Azaghâl drove a knife into his belly. The dragon then crawled away from the field, and many of the beasts of Angband followed him.
The ending of the battle
The western end of the battle was also going badly, as Fingon and Turgon were surrounded by a force three times as big as their remaining men. Gothmog, Lord of Balrogs, issued forth from Angband and proceeded to drive a wedge between the forces of Fingon and Turgon, and then his forces surrounded Fingon, turning Turgon and Húrin aside towards the Fen of Serech.
“At last Fingon stood alone with his guard dead about him; and he fought with Gothmog, until another Balrog came behind and cast a thong of fire about him. Then Gothmog hewed the helm of Fingon as it was cloven. Thus fell the High King of the Noldor; and they beat him into the dust with their maces, and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood.” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
Fingon’s death encapsulated the Doom of the Noldor. The most noble of Noldor elf-kind, full of great hopes and ideals, ending trodden into the dust. Here there is a comparison drawn between the glorious entrance of Fingolfin into Middle-earth (“Fingolfin unfurled his blue and silver banners, and blew his horns, and flowers sprang beneath his marching feet”) and the degrading death of Fingon (“and his banner, blue and silver, they trod into the mire of his blood”) trampled beneath his enemies’ feet.
Húrin, Huor and the remnant of the House of Haldor stood firm with Turgon, and Morgoth could not take the Pass of Sirion. Then Húrin told Turgon that he should retreat back to Gondolin as the field was lost, and Gondolin would be needed as a base for elvenkind and a symbol for the hope of the Eldar. Turgon took his advice, gathered his Gondolindrim, and retreated towards the Pass. Glorfindel and Ecthelion guarded his flanks, and the Men of Dor-lómin formed a rearguard. Thus the treachery of Ulfang was redressed, and of all the deeds that Men wrought on behalf of the Eldar, the last stand of the Men of Dor-lómin was the most renowned.
Turgon and his men fought their way southward, eventually escaping back to Gondolin behind the guard of Húrin and Huor. The brothers then drew the remnants of the House of Hador around them, and they slowly retreated until they reached the Fen of Serech. There they made their final stand.
The hordes of Morgoth swarmed against them, bridging the stream with dead bodies, and encircling the remnant of the Eldar. As the sun set on the sixth day, Huor fell, and the Men of Hador lay dead around him. Finally, Húrin stood alone. He slew many of his Morgoth’s forces before Gothmog bound him and dragged him off to Angband.
Thus ended the Nirnaeth Arnoediad.
The after-effects of the Nirnaeth
– After Men betrayed the Eldar, the hearts of Elves became estranged from those of Men, save only those of the Three Houses of the Edain.
– Fingon’s realm was lost and Morgoth sent the Easterlings live in Hithlum. Any remaining Eldar of Hithlum were taken north, and make to work as slaves in the mines. Only a few escaped into the wilds and the mountains.
– The Sons of Fëanor took to a woodland life beneath the Ered Lindon, mingling with the Green-elves of Ossiriand.
– Many of the Eldar fled to the Havens, and for the first year after the battle, Círdan’s mariners harried the enemy along the coast. But after that first year, Morgoth sent a great host to ravage the Falas and besiege Brithombar and Eglarest. The Havens were ruined and most of Círdan’s people were enslaved or slain. Among those who escaped by sea was Gil-galad, the son of Fingon. Círdan took his refuges to the Isle of Balar, where they made another refuge for elvenkind. They also managed to maintain a foot-hold at the Mouths of Sirion, and hid many light ships in the creeks and waters of the reed beds so that elves had some way of travelling out to the Isle.
– Turgon asked for the aid of Círdan, and at his request the Shipwright built seven ships which set out to the West. Only one sailor ever came back – a Gondolindrim called Voronwë.
– Morgoth ordered his orcs to gather up all those slain in the battle and pile them in a great mound in the midst of Anfauglith. This the elves named Haudh-en-Ndengin (Hill of the Slain), or Haudh-en-Nirnaeth (Hill of Tears).
“But grass came there and grew again long and green upon that hill, alone in all the desert that Morgoth made; and no creature of Morgoth trod thereafter upon the earth beneath which the swords of the Eldar and the Edain crumbled into rust.” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
This I find slightly strange. The only reason I could believe that Morgoth would raise such a monument would be to remind the Eldar and Edain of their great losses. But then why would the creatures of Morgoth never set foot on there? I also can’t see Morgoth setting up a memorial that he knew would form a sacred place for the Children of Ilúvatar.
After the battle, Morgoth’s eye focussed on Turgon – the new High King of the Noldor. Morgoth had a particular dislike for the House of Fingolfin, because of their old friendship with Ulmo, and because of the wounds Fingolfin gave to him with Ringil.
“And of most of his kin Morgoth feared Turgon; for of old in Valinor his eye has lighted upon him, and whenever he drew near a shadow had fallen on his spirit, foreboding that in some time that yet lay hidden, from Turgon ruin should come to him.” (Silmarillion, Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad)
This is slightly strange – the first time that the wrath of Morgoth has officially turned from the House of Fëanor towards the house of Fingolfin and the Edain who were in league with them. no previous mention had been made of this foreboding that Turgon would somehow cause his downfall.