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How to find on server: /warp Isengard

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Level 61 : High Grandmaster Network

"Beneath the mountain's arm within the Wizard's Vale through years uncounted had stood that ancient place that Men called Isengard. Partly it was shaped in the making of the mountains, but mighty works the Men of Westernesse had wrought there of old; and Saruman had dwelt there long and had not been idle... A strong place and wonderful was Isengard, and long it had been beautiful; and there great lords had dwelt, the wardens of Gondor upon the West, and wise men that watched the stars. …"

- The Lord of the Rings, Book III, Ch. 8, 'The Road to Isengard


Isengard ("Iron Fortress", Angrenost in Sindarin) was a great fortress located within a valley at the southern end of the Misty Mountains near the Gap of Rohan. In the centre of the Ring of Isengard stood the stone tower of Orthanc.

More lore
Isengard was built over three thousand years ago by the Dúnedain, the Exiles of Númenor, as a fortress on the north-western tip of Gondor. Within Orthanc was placed one of the seven seeing stones, the palantíri.

When Rohan was gifted to the Rohirrim five hundred years ago, the Stewards of Gondor retained Isengard under their own rule, the keys of Orthanc were taken to Minas Tirith, the Tower was shut, and the Ring of Isengard re­mained manned only by an hereditary Gondorian chieftain and his small people. To the northwestern bounds of their land the Rohirrim went seldom and only at need, regarding the eaves of Fangorn (the Entwood) and the frowning walls of Isengard with dread. They meddled little with the "Lord of Isengard" and his secret folk, whom they believed to be dealers in dark magic. And to Isengard the emis­saries from Minas Tirith came ever more seldom, until they ceased; it seemed that amidst their cares the Stewards had forgotten the Tower, though they held the keys.

Over time, the line of the Gondorian chieftains of Isengard failed, and the command of the fortress passed into the hands of a family of the people. They were now more friendly towards the Dunlendings than the Rohirrim, being more closely related to them. In the reign of Déor, King of Rohan, the Dunlendings became openly hostile, raiding the herds and studs of the Rohirrim in Westfold. The king drove them back, but was dismayed to find that Isengard was also hostile. Thinking that he had relieved Isengard of a Dunlendish siege, he sent messengers to its Gates with words of good will, but the Gates were shut upon them and the only answer they got was by bowshot. As was later known, the Dunlendings, having been admitted as friends, had seized the Ring of Isengard, slaying the few survivors of its ancient guards. Déor sent word at once to the Steward in Minas Tirith, but he was unable to send help, and the Dunlendings remained in occupation of Isengard until, reduced by the great famine after the Long Winter they were starved out and capitulated to Fréaláf, a later King of Rohan.

In that same year, Saruman the White, first of the order of Wizards and head of the White Council, offered to take up Isengard as his home. This was welcomed by both the King of Rohan and Steward of Gondor, as Saruman was both wise and powerful. He was gifted the Keys of Orthanc and vowed to command the defences of the West.

In T.A. 2851, the White Council met and Saruman overruled Gandalf when he urged an attack on Dol Guldur. It soon became clear that Saruman desired to possess the One Ring himself. In T.A. 2953, following the last meeting of the White Council, Saruman took Isengard for his own and fortified it. As Lord of Isengard, Saruman began to bring trouble to Rohan by aiding its enemies. Saruman's corruption was complete when, in circa T.A. 3000, he used the palantír of Orthanc and was enticed by Sauron.

Isengard became Saruman's base of operations during the War of the Ring. His war with Rohan began on 25 February, T.A. 3019, with the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. The forces of Isengard were victorious and Saruman's main objective, the killing of Théodred (son of King Théoden), was achieved. With another victory at the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen in early March, the forces of Isengard won passage into the plains of Rohan, but were defeated at the Battle of the Hornburg.

A few days later, Merry and Pippin, now the "doorwardens" of Isengard, welcomed the King of Rohan and his companions. They parleyed with Saruman, but he refused to co-operate. On 22 August, T.A. 3019, Treebeard, now in command of Isengard, allowed Saruman and Gríma to depart from what remained of the fortress.

Following the Battle of Isengard, the Ents destroyed the Ring of Isengard and filled the land with gardens of orchards and trees. A stream ran into a small clear lake, in the middle of which stood the black-stone tower of Orthanc. Whilst the Treegarth of Orthanc became part of the Reunited Kingdom, King Elessar granted the Ents complete self-governance of what was formerly Isengard.


Our map is set 12 years before the War of the Ring, and so we decided to keep the green look of Isengard on the surface, whilst Saruman's preparations for war went on inside the walls and under the ground.

The project took over a year to complete.

For anyone who is interested in seeing a detailed timeline of the project's construction, the Isengard project thread on our forums provides a good overview.

Isengard forms part of a larger project which seeks to recreate Middle-earth in its entirety. Credit goes to Lindalher and daktubalan for leading this project, and to the entire community of builders for helping to construct it.

Isengard can be viewed from above on ArdaCraft's dynmap. There is no download available, but ArdaCraft is a non-whitelisted server which anyone is welcome to come and explore, provided they have installed our modpack first.

All information can be found on our website.
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12/30/2019 9:47 pmhistory
Level 10 : Journeyman Dragon
Unused profile
Unused profile avatar
I'm hearing the Isengard Theme right now.

Build you filthy maggots, the master wants the tower for Minecraft. Unspoiled.
12/30/2019 3:26 pm
Level 62 : High Grandmaster Blockhead
Mine Maus Craft
Mine Maus Craft avatar
Amazing work!
12/30/2019 12:40 pm
Level 40 : Master Goblin
Zenkyo avatar
Very, very cool!
12/30/2019 6:14 am
Level 18 : Journeyman Sus
wrong_tickle avatar
12/29/2019 3:30 pm
Level 1 : New Miner
ShockwaveSteve avatar
dummy thicc rocc
12/29/2019 2:53 pm
Level 54 : Grandmaster Lad
Pixelr avatar
Isengard from the movies is much better imo. This just looks like a pile of stone. Great build tho, love what you do on the server.
12/29/2019 3:24 pmhistory
Level 61 : High Grandmaster Network
ArdaCraft avatar
Orthanc was meant to be a spire of rock, the films got it completely wrong. We're building Tolkien's world and not Peter Jackson's.
12/30/2019 11:56 amhistory
Level 29 : Expert Scribe
Enoshade avatar
I do believe there is something of a point to be had here though. I don't think Tolkien's sketches should be taken as literal reference; while he may have been a decent artist, a lot of the these were rather quick work and I believe he was trying to capture a somewhat 'medieval' aesthetic to them, where the proportions and scale are not quite accurate. This is further reinforced by the fact that he had several other sketches quite different from the one that this build is based on, so there is quite a bit of uncertainty in the canon about the actual look of the tower.

Personally if recreating Orthanc, I would use the description in the books and the sketch as a rough reference but develop my own design that is a bit more aesthetically pleasing while still looking like a spire of rock.
12/30/2019 12:18 pm
Level 61 : High Grandmaster Network
ArdaCraft avatar
The image we have included in the post is Tolkien's final drawing of Orthanc. It's fairly detailed and represents his last recorded thoughts on the subject. We've always taken Tolkien's most recent thoughts on any given topic as canonical, and therefore used that drawing in particular as a reference, along with the descriptions in The Lord of the Rings.

Building our own 'interpretation' of a given location sort of defeats the point of re-creation when there are drawings by the author.
01/03/2020 8:21 am
Level 29 : Expert Scribe
Enoshade avatar
That depends on your own reasons for doing the project, as well as thoughts on to what extent the author themselves considered their sketches to be legitimate representations of their world, or merely writing aides. I'm just sharing the way I would approach projects, and as I tend to dislike sticking to exact references I would rather go a slightly different way. The work of your team on the world of Middle Earth is extremely commendable however, and it has been a pleasure to explore it on several occasions.
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