the atlas of middle earth

moriquendii  asked:

top 3: 1, 2, 16, & 18! :D

so other than 18 i’m gonna do these w/ lotr

1. Heroes/protagonists

Aragorn, Glorfindel, Elrond

2. Villains/antagonists

Melkor, Sauron, Ungoliant

16. Characters who die

Boromir, Glorfindel, Feanor

18. Fictional worlds/universes

Middle Earth/Arda, ATLA’s Four Nations, Westeros

Ask me a top 3

Picked up the Atlas of Middle-Earth yesterday while my parents were at my sister’s graduation. Didn’t even realise there were still bookshops with those old-fashioned sliding ladders to get at the top shelves left. Also picked up a book about women in WWI which made me wonder how much the debate about women’s roles in war influenced Tolkien and characters like Eowyn.

The size of Middle-earth

I’ve been doing some thinking about the parts of Middle-earth that lie beyond the map and events in the Lord of the Rings, in preparation for some fan art/fic projects. And I made an important realization today that the farther parts of Middle-earth are probably not as big as I had imagined.

The northwest region featured in LotR is, of course, based on Europe, and so it’s easy to imagine that it takes up about the same area as Europe – a small peninsula on the western end of a huge continent. On this view, Mordor would correspond roughly with Turkey. The lands beyond the Sea of Rhun would stretch out far, far past the map, just as Asia stretches far beyond the Black and Caspian seas. The implication of this is that the world-changing events of LotR are focused on a tiny corner of the world, with vast unknown realms beyond them.

The trouble with this is that there simply isn’t enough room for northern Endor (i.e. the continent of Middle-earth proper) to be as big as real-world Eurasia. We can see this if we look at Tolkien’s sketch map of the world from the Ambarkanta, his cosmological essay published in HoME IV:

The flat First Age earth is a disc, roughly the same distance from north to south as our world is. That means the east-west distance is the same – which makes it about half the width of our world. And in that width, we have to fit not only Endor (including Beleriand), but also Aman, the eastern continent, and two oceans. Compare that to a map of the real earth’s eastern hemisphere, in which Eurasia stretches almost all the way across:

If northwestern Middle-earth is Europe, Endor can’t extend past India. This is, interestingly, about the extent of classical and early medieval European world maps, when the extent of China, Siberia, and Southeast Asia weren’t known to European cartographers.

The Ambarkanta map was made before Tolkien had invented the Third Age, and he never created a revised world map that incorporated features east of the Blue Mountains. In the Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad made a valiant attempt to insert this later geography into the Ambarkanta map’s framework:

Here we can see that Mordor is roughly at the midpoint of Endor, not in the west as we might assume from the Europe analogy. (A convenient base for ruling the world!) The lands covered by the LotR map make up over half of the northern section of Endor, and about a third of the total landmass.

The above maps are all from the flat-earth period of Middle-earth’s history. At the end of the Second Age, the world was made into a globe. This would require effectively doubling the surface area of the world. Much of this increase doubtless came in the form of added ocean, but it is an opportunity for Iluvatar to have expanded Endor to a more Eurasian size. However, the Numenorean settlements and Sauron’s realms in Middle-earth seem to have been only minimally disrupted by the rounding of the world, so it’s unclear how this would have been accomplished.

The Principality of Dol Amroth

Well, Dol Amroth wasn’t a kingdom because it didn’t have a king. Being ruled by a prince, Dol Amroth was a principality. Though, exactly what Imrahil ruled, and how much ruling he did, is kind of vague (and therefore allows for a great deal of reader-customization, which is always fun.) First of all: territory. Dol Amroth itself was a city and castle located on a peninsula in the Bay of Belfalas. It’s possible that Imrahil’s authority expanded far beyond the city itself, though, as the map of Gondor also labels the area as Dor-en-Ernil, which translates to Land of the Prince, and seems to suggest that the whole coastal region (probably between the rivers Ringlo and Gilraen) fell under Dol Amroth’s control.

Now, as for how much power Imrahil had. There’s actually a few clues that suggest Dol Amroth had a great deal more autonomy than the countries of the modern United Kingdom. (Finding a modern equivalent is tough, since principalities largely went out of style during the nationalist movement in the early twentieth century, but I think some possible examples might be China and Hong Kong, or the US and Puerto Rico?) Not only are the soldiers from Dol Amroth referred to as “knights” (thus suggesting that the prince has the authority to bestow knighthoods, as there aren’t any other knights mentioned in Gondor), but there’s also the fact that technically one could argue that a prince would out-rank a steward (especially since the princedom has been around for about a thousand years.) In fact, Tolkien mentions in “The Heirs of Elendil” of the princes that,

after the ending of the kings they became virtually independent princes, ruling over Belfalas, but they were at all times loyal to the Steward as representing the ancient crown.

In any case, Imrahil would definitely have been the second most powerful man in Gondor, after the steward, as evidenced by the ease with which he took control of Minas Tirith after Denethor’s death. Personally, I imagine Dol Amroth as part of Gondor, of course, but aside from matters of national importance (such as the military), it was largely autonomous.

SOURCES: LOTR, LOTR Appendices, The Unfinished Tales (“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”), The Histories of Middle Earth (“The Heirs of Elendil”)

((The map is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth))

y-yavanna  asked:

Hi! I just saw the ''hobbit distance thing'' and I remembered something that I myself wondered about. The distance and time inthe hobbit and tlotr doenst add up to me at all. for exaple as you explined it took about 2 months for the dwarfs to get to rivendell which is quitea long distance.but for aragorn + hobbits it only took like 4 days from weathertop (i may be wrong since i dont remember, but i know it didnt take THAT long.

Yeah, there’s definitely something odd about the difference in travel times between the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. It took Bilbo and the dwarves 38 days to travel from Bag End to Rivendell, averaging 10.7 miles a day (all this is from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth, by the way), meanwhile it took Aragorn and the hobbits 28 days, traveling 17.5 miles a day, to make the same trip. And we must remember, of course, that Bilbo and the dwarves are on ponies, while Aragorn and the hobbits are on foot!

Now, given the extreme urgency of Frodo’s quest, and the terror of the nazgul hunting them all the way, I would absolutely believe that he and his friends were traveling longer and faster each day than the dwarves were. But even so, with the dwarves on ponies, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me that they’re traveling at nearly half the pace of Aragorn and the hobbits! This is a problem that Karen Wynn Fonstad points out herself, finally concluding:

It is possible Tolkien had longer distances in mind for The Hobbit travels, and either did not check the effect of the scale placed on the map in the later book or chose to ignore it. Had the scale of the Wilderland map been about twice that of the rest of Middle-earth, the Dwarves’ pace would have been nearer normal… Rather than analyze too closely, it is preferable we merely gain a general impression of the seemingly endless toil necessary to reach Lonely Mountain.

The excerpt from the Atlas below shows the path of Thorin’s company (in black) and Frodo and his friends (in orange). The smaller map below shows a possible alternate route through the Trollshaws, as Tolkien’s description of that leg of the journey differs in The Hobbit and LotR.

SOURCES: The Atlas of Middle Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad

Helm Hammerhand

As far as I can tell, all the information about Helm on those websites is accurate. But, for those who don’t know, here’s his story:

Helm Hammerhand was the ninth king of Rohan. During his reign there was another powerful man in Rohan, called Freca. Freca claimed to have some royal lineage himself, but it was said that he had a fair amount of Dunlendish ancestry as well (at the time, the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings were almost always fighting, so this was definitely not a compliment.) Freca was very rich, though, since he owned a lot of land along the Adorn river, and he was a very proud man.

One day, Freca came to a council in Edoras with a large group of his own men, and started off the meeting by proposing that Helm’s daughter marry his son Wulf. Helm basically called him proud and fat, then told him to wait until after the meeting. When the council was done, he took Freca outside for a “private discussion”, where he pretty much insulted him a bit, then hit Freca so hard that he died soon after.

Four years later, things weren’t going so well for Rohan. They were being attacked from the east, but couldn’t get any help from Gondor because they were being attacked by Corsairs in the south at the same time. The Dunlendings in the west (stationed at the abandoned Isengard), seeing this as a great opportunity, also attacked Rohan, led by Freca’s son Wulf. Rohan was soon overrun, and many of the people were either killed, enslaved, or driven into the mountains. Helm’s son Haleth died defending Edoras, though it was no use; Wulf took Edoras and called himself king of Rohan. Helm, meanwhile, fell back to the fortress of the Hornburg, which was later called Helm’s Deep.

As luck would have it, this was the year of the Long Winter, and Rohan was covered in snow for five full months. During this time both the Rohirrim and the Dunlendings suffered from the cold and following famine. In desparation, Helm’s younger son Hama went out to fight the enemy and was lost. It was said that Helm 

grew fierce and gaunt for famine and grief; and the dread of him alone was worth many men in the defence of the Burg. He would go out by himself, clad in white, and stalk like a snow-troll into the camps of his enemies, and slay many men with his hands.

There were also rumors among the Dunlendings that, if Helm couldn’t find food, he would eat the men he’d killed. And before he went out to fight, he always blew his great horn, he sound of which would send his enemies running. 

Then, one day, Helm didn’t return. He was found later, “dead as a stone, but his knees were unbent.” (basically, I think he froze to death standing up.) When winter ended, Helm’s nephew Frealaf came down from Dunharrow with his men, and they attacked Edoras and killed Wulf. The melted snow from the Long Winter flooded much of eastern Rohan, driving out the eastern invaders as well. Frealaf became the new king of Rohan, starting the Second Line of kings, which lasted until Theoden’s death in the War of the Ring.

Soon, most of the Dunlendings were defeated and driven out of Rohan. And to keep them from retaking Isengard, the tower was given to Saruman, one of the Istari.


((The map is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth.))

The Distance Between Mirkwood and Rivendell

(Disclaimer: my main source for this post is Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth. I think it’s a pretty reliable source, and she explains the research that led to a lot of her decisions in the maps/etc, but it’s not technically Tolkien saying it.)

As far as I can tell on all the maps, Rivendell and Thranduil’s Halls in Mirkwood are between 300 and 350 miles apart, as the great eagle flies (that is, in a straight line.) Of course, actual people wouldn’t be able to travel from Rivendell to Mirkwod in a straight line.

The quickest route seems to be the one Bilbo and the dwarves took (which seems to have been closer to 400 miles long), and that took them about 2 months. Granted, they were on foot, and not moving particularly fast - Karen Wynn Fonstad estimates that they travelled 4 miles a day in the mountains and 6.7 miles a day in the forest. A traveler who knew the route better (and avoided getting lost or attacked along the way) would undoubtedly make the trip faster. For example, when traveling from Weathertop to the Last Bridge, Aragorn and the hobbits (with one pony and an injured Frodo) traveled on average 24 miles a day. So this trip could possibly be made on foot in as little as three or four weeks - and even faster on horse.

Of course, this is all based on the route used in The Hobbit, which crossed the Misty Mountains at the High Pass. If interested, check out this post, which discusses the different ways to cross the mountains.

SOURCES: Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth, The Hobbit, LotR

((The map above is an excerpt from the Atlas, showing the route Bilbo and the dwarves took from Rivendell to Erebor (you can see Thranduil’s halls marked on the eastern edge of the forest.)))

Post-Smaug Dale

We only learn about Dale through small mentions made by other characters, and a couple very brief notes in Tolkien’s timelines. But we can put together a decent idea of Dale’s history after being rebuilt by Bard.

First, there’s the information we get via Gandalf and Balin at the very end of The Hobbit, which told us that Bard had rebuilt Dale, and that “men had gathered to him from the Lake and from South and West, and all the valley had become tilled again and rich, and the desolation was now filled with birds and blossoms in spring and fruit and feasting in autumn.”

The next we hear of Dale is from Gloin before the Council of Elrond, several decades later:

Nowhere are there any men so friendly to us as the Men of Dale. They are good folk, the Bardings. The grandson of Bard the Bowman rules them, Brand son of Bain son of Bard. He is a strong king, and his realm now reaches far south and east of Esgaroth.

Later, when discussing his reason for coming to Rivendell in the first place (a messenger from Sauron had come to Dain Ironfoot and offered an alliance in return for any information on Bilbo and the Ring), Gloin adds that a messenger had also gone to Brand (Bard’s grandson) with the same proposal. Gloin says that Brand is afraid, and that “We fear that he may yield. Already war is gathering on his eastern borders. If we make no answer, the Enemy may move Men of his rule to assail King Brand, and Dáin also.”

Their prediction was correct - while Sauron’s main army was attacking Gondor in the south, the same forces gathering on Bard’s eastern border attack. Tolkien briefly describes the ensuing battle in the appendices:

At the same time as the great armies besieged Minas Tirith a host of the allies of Sauron that had long threatened the borders of King Brand crossed the River Carnen, and Brand was driven back to Dale. There he had the aid of the Dwarves of Erebor; and there was a great battle at the Mountain’s feet It lasted three days, but in the end both King Brand and King Dáin Ironfoot were slain, and the Easterlings had the victory. But they could not take the Gate, and many, both Dwarves and Men, took refuge in Erebor, and there withstood a siege.

When word reached Sauron’s armies of their lord’s defeat, they retreated, and Erebor and Dale each crowned new kings (Brand’s son Bard II became the new king of Dale.)

So, all in all, we can conclude that Dale was a very prosperous kingdom after Smaug’s death, and maintained a close relationship with their dwarvish neighbors. 

SOURCES: The Hobbit, LOTR, LOTR Appendices

((The map above is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth. I’ve highlighted Dale proper in purple, and the River Carnen in blue. If, based Tolkiens description of the Battle of Dale is to be taken seriously, this was Dale’s eastern border by the War of the Ring, then Dale had grown a great deal since it’s re-building after Smaug’s death.))

Lorien: Natural or Otherworldly?

To be honest, I think it makes a big difference that we don’t really see a lot of Lorien during the daytime in the movie - lighting makes a huge difference. And everyone has their own image in their minds of what a certain scene, character, or place looks like, that’s the beauty of fiction. But as for Lorien being a natural vs. otherworldly, here are my thoughts:

Personally, I would argue that there isn’t much “natural” about Lorien at all. While it’s true that the place’s beauty comes from the nature that grows and lives there, the entire environment is based on artificial interference. Take, for example, Frodo’s description of Cerin Amroth, which is in the heart of Lorien:

It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no color but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful. In winter here no heart could mourn for summer or for spring. No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lórien there was no stain.

First of all, there is undoubtedly an otherworldly quality to Frodo’s experience of Lorien. And his description identifies two of the several unnatural parts of Lorien’s beauty: the climate, and the lack of “blemish.” I know that Tolkien is emphasizing the fact that Lorien is untouched by Sauron’s evil, but even in the world’s most pristine natural environments, there are still flaws. Nature isn’t perfect. And even at perfection, death and decay are an important part of a natural ecosystem. What Frodo’s describing sounds more like a garden than a natural environment.

And the fact that Lorien basically doesn’t experience winter (a fact that’s mentioned a couple other times throughout the book) is clearly unnatural. In fact, Lorien’s climate is considered so wildly unnatural that in The Atlas of Middle Earth, Lorien is marked on the climate map simple as “Secondary World Powers”, referring to the fact that it’s climate is controlled by “magic”, rather than natural weather patterns.

The reader comes to understand, in the end, that these “otherworldly” qualities are caused by Galadriel and her ring of power, Nenya. The elvish rings of power were noted for their ability to preserve. Galadriel used her ring to keep Lorien in something like a stasis (not entirely - things did grow, and they experienced some seasonal changes, but nothing compared to the surrounding environment.) We see a slightly less extreme version of this happening in Rivendell as well, thanks to Elrond’s ring. This artificial, or “magical”, preservation was a blessing for the elves, who grieved to see everything in the world change, fade, and ultimately die around them, but was by no means “natural.”

Finally, on a less philosophical note, it’s worth pointing out that the most “natural” of Lorien’s characteristics - the famous mallorn trees - were technically an invasive species introduced by Galadriel sometime in the Second Age. So, depending on your point of view, not all that natural after all.

SOURCES: LOTR, The Unfinished Tales (“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”), Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth

The Great Plague

(If interested, I’ve mentioned this more briefly in this post on Disease, and this one on Medicine.)

The Great Plague started in the year 1635 of the Third Age. As far as anyone can tell, it started east of Mordor. The plague spread to Gondor (according to legend, it was carried by an evil eastern wind, which leads many to believe that the plague was somehow caused by Sauron.) From Gondor, the plague spread north to Rhovanion and Rhun, and northwest beyond the Misty Mountains and to Minhiriath and Arnor.

The Great Plague had disastrous results. While Tolkien never gave an exact number of casualties, it’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of people died. Rhovanion was the hardest hit, losing a full half of its population. Gondor also suffered a great deal (especially in the city of Osgiliath. After the king and his family was killed, things got so bad in the city that many people fled to the surrounding areas, and the country’s capital was moved to Minas Tirith.) In Eriador, the major city of Thrabad in Minhiriath was so badly effected that it was practically abandoned afterwards. And the last of the Dunedain in Cardolan were killed by the plague (giving Angmar a huge win in its ongoing war with Arnor.) The Shire was also badly hit.

The fact that cities seemed to suffer particularly badly, and the fact that Tolkien tells us Dunland suffered fewer casualties because of its isolated nature, tells us that the plague - no matter its origin - spread like most “real world” contagious diseases. Other than that, we really don’t have any medical knowledge of the plague.

Aside from the sheer loss of life, the Great Plague had a huge impact on the political, social, and military makeup of Middle Earth for 200 years after it began. The effects on Osgiliath and Tharbad were already mentioned, but it’s also worth pointing out that Gondor lost a great deal of power because of the plague. It’s said that, by the end, Mordor was left basically unguarded because Gondor couldn’t maintain their garrisons anymore. And in Arnor and Rhovanion, the effects of the plague weakened the nations to attacks from outside threats (Angmar and the Wainriders, respectively.) And, all in all, the Great Plague largely explains the decrease in population that we see during the Third Age.

SOURCES: LOTR Appendices, The Unfinished Tales (small mentions in various chapters.)

((The map is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth, showing the regional impact of the Great Plague))


My Christmas present to you: opening credits for the Silmarillion tv show I’d love to see someday (no matter how unlikely that may be.)

The song is the opening credits song for The 100 (composed by Evan Frankfort.) The maps are from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth, and the video clips are from Peter Jackson’s movies.

The Layout of Helm's Deep

Okay, so here’s an overview of the main parts of Rohan’s great fortress:

  • Deeping Coomb: Called simply a “great bay in the mountains” - which is actually a pretty apt description, I think - it was the deep valley leading to the Hornburg.
  • Helm’s Dike: Described as “an ancient trench and rampart scored across the coomb.” It was basically an earthen wall (with a ditch in front, to make it seem taller) that was the Hornburg’s first line of defense. It had a breach in the middle, to allow the Deeping Stream and road to pass through, but at the very least it would slow attackers down, and force them to attack from a specific, narrow point.
  • The Hornburg: This was the tower and fortress that protected Helm’s Deep. Tolkien describes it briefly: “At Helm’s Gate, before the mouth of the Deep, there was a heel of rock thrust outward by the northern cliff. There upon its spur stood high walls of ancient stone,and within them was a lofty tower.”
  • The Deeping Wall: Tolkien actually describes this part pretty well (since it was more familiar to our pov characthers): “The Deeping Wall was twenty feet high, and so thick that four men could walk abreast along the top, sheltered by a parapet over which only a tall man could look. Here and there were clefts in the stone through which men could shoot.” This was the wall defending the Hornburg and, behind it, Helm’s Deep.
  • Helm’s Deep: While this is the name usually used for the entire fortress area, “Helm’s Deep” technically refers to the narrow gorge that the Hornburg was defending. (Helm’s Gate was simply the beginning of this gorge.)

While we’re on the subject, ever wonder why everything here has the word “helm” in it? Take a look at this post to find out! (Hint: it has nothing to do with helmets.)


((The map is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth))


Ambar actually has two meanings with regards to Middle Earth. First, “ambar” is the Quenya word for doom, or fate. And second, Ambar is the name for the inhabited world (as opposed to Arda, which refers to the physical world as a whole), though what exactly constitutes the “inhabited world” isn’t clear.

It’s interesting that the elves used the same word for “fate” as they did for the inhabited world. The theory is that they did so because the elves’ destiny is tied to the world (elvish “immortality” is really just that they live as long as the world exists, and even in death their spirits remain.) So, in elvish culture, the physical world and fate are deeply connected.

SOURCES: The Histories of Middle Earth vol. 4 (“Ambarkanta”), vol. 5 (“The Etymologies”)

((The map above is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth. It shows the “circles of the world”, based on the early sketches Tolkien made of the cosmology of his world. Note the physical, habitable part of the world labelled “Ambar.”))

Okay, we’ve all seen these before. Simply reblog and replace my answers with your own. We all get to talk about Tolkien (which is awesome), and we all get to learn a bit about each other (which is awesome.)


  • First Tolkien Book: Fellowship of the Ring
  • Age at First Reading: 11
  • Who/What Introduced You?: My dad and the newly released movies
  • First Favorite Character: Glorfindel


  • Currently Reading (By Tolkien): Working my way through the Histories of Middle Earth
  • Fan of the Movies?: YES
  • Plan to Read Next: Children of Hurin


  • Story: Quenta Silmarillion
  • Race/Culture: Race of Men (all of them)
  • Male Character: Glorfindel (still and forever)
  • Female Character: Tar-Ancalime
  • Romantic Relationship: Tuor/Idril
  • Friendship: Fingon & Maedhros
  • Location: Gondolin
  • Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad (even though it makes me cry every time)
  • Song: A Elbereth Gilthoniel
  • Of the Trilogy: Fellowship of the Ring
  • Member of the Fellowship: Merry
  • Villain: Morgoth (classic)
  • Elf: (other than Glorfindel), Cirdan
  • Dwarf: Dain Ironfoot
  • Man/Woman: (other than Tar-Ancalime), Andreth
  • Hobbit: (other than Merry), Sam
  • Valar/Maiar: Nienna
  • Other: Thorondor, Lord of the Eagles


The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, The Silmarillion, The Unfinished Tales, The Children of Hurin, The Histories of Middle Earth (volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12), The Book of Lost Tales, Leaf by Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, On Fairy Stories, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Atlas of Middle Earth

Archive Monday

Happy Archive Monday! Now, since we skipped last week, there are a ton of “repeat questions” below the cut with links to the posts you want to read, so if you’re waiting to see a question answered, be sure to check those out!

Otherwise, enjoy this week’s list from the archives - today’s theme is the Vanyarin elves:

Keep reading

inhuman-fogbank  asked:

Could you explain Oropher moving his kingdom further North in Greenwood? Why? I know you have said before it was to escape all Noldorian presence, but in the Second Age Galadriel (and Celeborn): only got to Lorien after Oropher got to Greenwood; were very lowly among the Nandor elves of Lorien; did not become more important in Lorien until quite late in the 2nd Age; did not have much influence at all over Greenwood? Also, do you know when and where he moved the kingdom each time? Thanks a lot!

So, when Oropher first established his dynasty in Mirkwood (then Greenwood), the elves were based in the southern part of the forest (in Amon Lanc, which later became known as Dol Guldur.) Gradually during the Second Age, though, he moved his people further north all the way to the Mountains of Mirkwood (a northern migration that was completed by his son Thranduil, who brought his people all the way to the banks of the Forest River.) 

The exact reasons for this movement in the Second Age aren’t known. One of the two theories are that Oropher was trying to avoid Sauron’s influence. Sauron had started building Barad-dur and his armies in Mordor around 1000 SA, which was actually around the same time Oropher arrived in Mirkwood. So, perhaps as Sauron became more of a threat, Oropher wanted to move his people further north? But it’s likely that this wouldn’t have really been an issue until the Sauron revealed himself in 1600 SA.

The second theory is that Oropher was trying to avoid the Noldorin influence in Lorien. While it’s true that Galadriel didn’t come to power there until the Third Age, she was still a presence. In fact, it seems that Galadriel first came into contact with the Silvan elves of Lorien around the year 1200 SA. And Tolkien says that “many Sindar and Noldor came to dwell among them” and that “it may be that they came from Eregion by way of Khazad-dûm and under the auspices of Galadriel.” You see, Galadriel had an interest in Lorien early-on, and did some maneuvering in the Second Age to keep them protected from Sauron. It seems completely in-character that she’d send some “friends” to live there and keep an eye on things - a move that would have infuriated Oropher, no doubt.

Galadriel herself lived in Lorien for some time during the later part of the Second Age. And it’s said that even more Noldorin elves (refugees from the destroyed Eregion) moved to Lorien later as well. To someone with as many Noldorin issues as Oropher, this growing presence would have been see as a nuisance at best, and a threat at worst.

SOURCES: The Unfinished Tales (“The History of Galadriel and Celeborn”)

((The map is an excerpt from Karen Wynn Fonstad’s Atlas of Middle Earth. The blue dots mark (from bottom to top) Amon Lanc, the Mountains of Mirkwood (the northern extent of Oropher’s migration), and the Elvenking’s Halls (Thranduil’s location).  The purple dots mark Eregion (on the left) and Lorien.)