S. Nan Dungortheb loc. “Valley of Dreadful Death”
The valley in Beleriand where the spider-children of Ungoliant dwelled, translated “Valley of Dreadful Death” (S/81). The initial word of the name is nan(d) “valley” (SA/nan(d)), but the second word is difficult to analyze. Its second element gortheb could be a variant of gorthob “horrible” or it could contain a variant of gurth “death”. The first element Dun- is hard to reconcile, however, as there are no attested Sindarin words of this form meaning anything like “dread” or “death”. Based on its earlier definitions, it might be a variant of (N.) donn “shadowy”; see below.
Conceptual Development: In the earliest Lost Tales, this name was G. Nan Dumgorthin “Land of the Dark Idols” (LT2/35). In the Lays of Beleriand from the 1920s, the form Dungorthin emerged (LB/148), and in the Silmarillion drafts from the 1930s, this valled was named Ilk. Nan Dungorthin (LR/261), which was designated an Ilkorin name in The Etymologies and translated “Vale of Black Horror” (Ety/DUN, NAD, ÑGOROTH). At this stage its initial element was dunn “black” (Ety/DUN), whose Noldorin form was N. donn “shady, shadowy” (EtyAC/DUN).
In Silmarillion revisions from the 1950s-60s, the name was revised to Nan Dungortheb (MR/127) and given its new translation “Valley of Dreadful Death” (MR/297, footnote), but none of the published material explains how the new name and translation correspond. Absent further evidence, N. donn is my best guess for the element Dun- in this name.
References ✧ LB/348; LBI/Nan Dungorthin; LR/299; LRI/Nan-dungorthin; LT1I/Nan Dungortheb; LT2I/Nan Dungortheb; MR/127, 297; MRI/Nan Dungortheb; S/81; SA/nan(d); SI/Nan Dungortheb; SMI/Nan Dungorthin; UTI/Dungortheb; WJI/Nan Dungortheb
|nan(d)||“vale, valley”||✧ SA/nan(d)|
|N. donn?||“swart, swarthy; shady, shadowy”|
Ilk. Nan Dungorthin loc. “Vale of Black Horror”
See S. Nan Dungortheb for further discussion.
References ✧ Ety/DUN, NAD, ÑGOROTH; EtyAC/ÑGOROTH; LB/348; LBI/Nan Dungorthin; LR/299; LRI/Nan-dungorthin; MR/127; MRI/Nan Dungortheb; SMI/Nan Dungorthin; WJI/Nan Dungortheb
|nand||“field, valley”||✧ Ety/NAD|
|dunn||“black”||✧ Ety/DUN; Ety/ÑGOROTH|
G. Nan Dumgorthin loc. “Land of the Dark Idols”
References ✧ GL/31; LB/148; LBI/Nan Dungorthin; LT2/35, 62; LT2A/Nan Dumgorthin; LT2I/Nan Dumgorthin; MRI/Nan Dungortheb
|dungort||“(evil) idol”||✧ GL/31 (dumgort); LT2/62 (dumgort)|
|nand||“field acre”||✧ LT1A/Nandini|