Looking more like a post-apocalyptic ruin from the end of days than a traditional ghost town depopulated in the wake of some regional strife – or in this case, a savage aerial assault from a fire-breathing dragon – Dale makes for an impressive scene in the latest installment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Viewed here by Bilbo and his Dwarvish companions against the backdrop of the Lonely Mountain, the abandoned city still stands proud in its strategic location near the entrance to the kingdom of Erebor.
In Tolkein’s mythology, Dale was a city of Men located on the Celduin river between the Lonely Moutain and the Long Lake. The city was ruled by Girion until its destruction by the dragon Smaug in the year 2770, during the Third Age of Middle Earth. Closely connected with the nearby Dwarves of Erebor, Dale features throughout Tolkein’s book The Hobbit, being resettled after Smaug’s demise. Despite the city’s turbulent history – it was sacked again by Mordor and Easterling invaders during the War of the Ring – Dale eventually found peace and was rebuilt one last time following the fall of Sauron.
Above, the city of Dale stands bathed in light prior to the attack by Smaug at the start of The Hobbit. The entrance to Erebor, the Kingdom under the Mountain, is visible in the background, built into the imposing cliffs of the Lonely Mountain.