I have a feeling that my hometown of Colchester,or perhaps the wider county of Essex was represented by Mordor in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This might sound slightly random, that I’m making some sort of joke at the expense of the citizens of Colchester, but I promise my belief is genuine.
This theory begins with Tolkien’s inspiration for The Two Towers, the second book in the trilogy. The first thing we need to decide is what are the two towers Tolkien refers to in his title? There are five towers in the book which could make a claim as being one of the two, these are: Cirith Ungol, Orthanc, Minas Tirith, Barad-dur, and Minas Morgul. By doing some research I have found that Tolkien wasn’t happy with the title of this book and was unsure which towers his own title even referred, claiming the title could be misleading. However in a letter to Rayner Unwin he expressed his decision on which two towers he had chosen.
“I am not at all happy about the title ‘The Two Towers’. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol.”
From my own further investigations I believe it has to be these two towers, I’ll tel you why… In the 11th century there was a Norman architect who went by the name Gundulf (Not too far away from Gandalf, is it?). Gundulf is credited with the design of two English buildings. The White Tower in London and Colchester Castle.
One of the towers according to Tolkien was Orthanc, the black tower of Isengard, home of the WHITE wizard, whose army marched under the WHITE hand. For me this is a clear indicator that Orthanc was inspired by The White Tower in London. Now the building which opposed The White Tower is Colchester Castle, there being a long historical debate about which was built first. From this we can claim that Colchester Castle must represent Cirith Ungol.
This might seem a bit speculative, but I have something else up my sleeve, the locations of the towers on a map.
The yellow line on this map starts at The Shire and then hits Isengard before finishing in the location of Cirith Ungol and Mordor. This is important because we know The Shire was inspired by Oxfordshire. If we now look at a map of Southern England and trace the line from Oxford to London (Location of The White Tower) and then finally to Essex (Location of Colchester Castle) we can see a real similarity.
Maybe this is all wild speculation, but I think I could be on to something here. Maybe I do live in England’s equivalent to Mordor? What do you think?
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