The Glittering Caves of Aglarond

Useful Information

some of the "columns of white and saffron and dawn-rose" (Gimli).
Location: Helm's Deep, Rohan, Gondor
Open: no restrictions
Fee: none
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave in marble. SmileFictitious Cave
Light: none
Guided tours: ask Gimli
Bibliography: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1966): The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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MAR-3019 T.A. At the Battle of the Hornburg, Gimly, Gloins son, hides in the cave and discovers its beauty.


Immeasurable halls, filled with an everlasting music of water that tinkles into pools, as fair as Kheled-zâram in the starlight.

And, Legolas, when the torches are kindled and men walk on the sandy floors under the echoing domes, ah! Then, Legolas, gems and crystals and veins of precious ores glint in the polished walls; and the light glows through folded marbles, shell-like, translucent as the living hands of Queen Galadriel. There are columns of white and saffron and dawn-rose, Legolas, fluted and twisted into dreamlike forms; they sprung up from many coloured floors to meet the glistening pendants of the roof: wings, ropes, curtains fine as frozen clouds; spears, banners, pinnacles of suspended palaces!

Text by Gimli (MAR-3019 T.A.). With kind permission.

some of Gimlis "spears" hanging down from the ceiling of Aglarond.

The Glittering Caves of Aglarond are the most beautiful natural caves in Middle-Earth, famous for their numerous speleothems. They show all kinds of stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, curtains and draperies. The multitude of forms, described by Gimli is typical for those speleothems, formed by dripping water during hundred thousands of years.

The typical colours of "white and saffron and dawn-rose" are produced by white limestone containing different amounts of iron oxide (rust), which is yellow-brown or red. White speleothems are pure, without any kind of soiling.

A little more difficult to explain are the gems and the ores in the sentence "gems and crystals and veins of precious ores glint in the polished walls". It seems Gimli, though a dwarf, was a little too overwhelmed to see it right. The gems and crystals are calcite, which is despite its beauty, rather worthless from the jewelers point of view. The minerals are rich in forms and colour, but too soft to make durable jewelry. And there are no ores in the walls. The surrounding rock is marble, a metamorphic limestone, which has coloured bands and layers looking similar to ore veins, if they are polished by the water.

Although known for a very long time, only the entrance of the cave was used as a stable or storage rooms. In times of war they were an ideal hideout, as the small entrance allowed attackers only to enter one by one, and was thus easy to defend.

Gimli was the first one to discover the beauty of the cave, when he took refuge here during the Battle of the Hornburg. After the Ring War, he returned to the cave. The cave was given to him by Éomir, the Lord of Rohan, and he started the development of the cave. But it was not developed as a show cave, although he mentioned dwarf tourists would pay gold to see it, but for living for him and his followers.