The Tower of Orthanc

Materials, Equipment and Paints Used:
Black Foamcore
PVA Glue
Metal Rule
Sharp Craft Knife
Cutting Board
160gsm Printable Card

A great ring-wall of stone, like towering cliffs, stood out from the shelter of the mountain-side, from which it ran and then returned again. One entrance only was there made in it, a great arch delved in the southern wall. Here through the black rock a long tunnel had been hewn, closed at either end with mighty doors of iron. They were so wrought and poised upon their huge hinges, posts of steel driven into the living stone, that when unbarred they could be moved with a light thrust of the arms, noiselessly. One who passed in and came at length out of the echoing tunnel, beheld a plain, a great circle, somewhat hollowed like a vast shallow bowl: a mile it measured from rim to rim. Once it had been green and filled with avenues, and groves of fruitful trees, watered by streams that flowed from the mountains to a lake. But no green thing grew there in the latter days of Saruman. The roads were paved with stone-flags, dark and hard; and beside their borders instead of trees there marched long lines of pillars, some of marble, some of copper and of iron. joined by heavy chains.


Orthanc was the black impenetrable tower of Isengard built by the Dúnedain. By the Great Years and the War of the Ring it was possessed by the wizard Saruman. It stood in the centre of the Ring of Isengard, great defensive walls fortified by the early Gondorians. Its location was at the north-western corner of Rohan, guarding the Fords of Isen from enemy incursions into Calenardhon together with the fortress of Aglarond to its south.

Isengard was built in the Second Age around the tower of Orthanc by the Númenóreans in exile. Its location was at the north-western corner of Rohan, guarding the Fords of Isen from enemy incursions into Calenardhon together with the fortress of Aglarond to its south.

The river Angren (or Isen) began at Methedras behind Isengard, which also formed its northern wall. The other three sides were guarded by a large wall, known as the Ring of Isengard, which was only breached by the inflow of the river Angren at the north-east through a portcullis, and the gate of Isengard at the south, at both shores of the river.

Isengard was a green and pleasant place, with many large trees and grass fields, fed by the Angren. Orthanc stood in the exact centre.

During the early Third Age the land of Calenardhon became depopulated, and the last warden of Orthanc was recalled to Minas Tirith. Isengard remained guarded by a small company, led by a hereditary captain. Bit by bit though the messages from Minas Tirith decreased until they ceased altogether.

After Calenardhon was given to the Éothéod by Cirion, Steward of Gondor, and became Rohan, Isengard was the sole fortress retained by Gondor north of the Ered Nimrais (excluding Anórien), although Gondor almost forgot about it. The small guard intermarried much with the Dunlendings, until the fortress became Dunlending in all but name. Orthanc however remained closed, as the Steward of Gondor alone held the keys.

By 2710 the line of hereditary Captains died out and during the rule of Rohan's King Déor it was evident that Isengard had become openly hostile to the Rohirrim. Using Isengard as their base, the Dunlendings continued to raid Rohan during Déor's son Gram's rule, until during the rule of Gram's son Helm Hammerhand a Dunlending Lord, Freca and his son Wulf nearly managed to destroy the Rohirrim. The Rohirrim destroyed the invaders and blockaded Isengard, eventually taking it.

A more permanent solution was now needed for Isengard, as Gondor did not wish to relinquish its claim to one of the Towers of the Realm, but at the same time lacked the strength or inclination to garrison it. A solution presented itself to the Steward of Gondor, Beren, as Saruman the White suddenly reappeared from the East, and he offered to guard Isengard. Beren gladly gave him the keys to Orthanc, and Saruman settled there. However at first he resided there as Warden of the Tower on behalf of Gondor. After him the valley became known as Nan Curunír, or "Valley of the Wizard". In 2953, taking advantage of Sauron's return and the resulting distraction of the Stewards, Saruman took Isengard for himself and became Lord of Isengard.

During the War of the Ring Isengard was Saruman's base of operations against the Rohirrim, and he defiled the valley, cutting down its trees. Isengard's valley was destroyed by deep pits, used for breeding Uruk-hai and smithing weapons. Isengard became home to countless Orcs, whom Saruman used to try to conquer Rohan. Eventually an army of Ents and Huorns led by Treebeard of Fangorn attacked Isengard, taking the fortress, although they could not take Orthanc, made as it was of impervious rock without seam or fault. The Hobbits Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took, as the new "doorwardens", received Théoden King of Rohan, Aragorn and Gandalf at the gates.

During the Fourth Age Isengard was restored, and the entire valley granted to the Ents. The Ents tore down the walls of the ring, and named the new forest the Treegarth of Orthanc. Orthanc became again a tower of the Reunited Kingdom of Aragorn King Elessar.

This article shows how to make the interior walls for the Wizards' Duel mini game.

The Walls

First download and print and cut out the wall sections here:

Wall 1
Wall 2
Wall 3

You will need to print two of wall 2 out.

Cut out two pieces of foamcore that are the same size as two of the wall sections from the PDFs above. Divide these vertically in half and cut down this line making sure the cut only goes about half way in to the foamcore.

Taking one foamcore sheet turn over so the cut is on the underside. Glue Wall 1 to the left hand side and Wall 2 to the right. Do the same to the other piece of foamcore and glue Wall 3 to the left hand side and Wall 2 to the right.

Bend the foamcore along the cut line.

The Floor

The floor of the game is simply mounted on a sheet of foamcore that is then cut to size. The floor is from Battle Games in Middle Earth 13 which is cheaply available on eBay. Using a knife and a metal rule, carefully cut out the floor and using a glue stick glue it to a sheet of A3 foamcore.

Make some guide lines using a pencil and a metal rule from each opposite corner point of the hexagon shape of the floor. Cut out four strips of foamcore 1/4" thick and the same length of half a wall section and using the guide lines marked above glue these onto the floor using PVA. These will be supports for the walls so you may want to offer up the walls in place to get the positioning correct.

Once these have dried, cut out the floor section using a craft knife and a metal rule.

Place the wall sections against these supports and you are ready to play!