The Gates of Moria

Equipment and Materials:
Expanded Polystyrene
Extruded Polystyrene
2 X Trees
Mounting Cardboard
Duct Tape
Woodland Scenics Realistic Water
Woodland Scenics Water Effects
Decorating Caulk
Grey Paints
White Paint
Red Paint
Rotting Flesh Paint

Before them stretched a dark still lake. Neither sky nor sunset was reflected on its sullen surface. The Sirannon had been dammed and had filled all the valley. Beyond the ominous water were reared vast cliffs, their stern faces pallid in the fading light: final and impassable. No sign of gate or entrance, not a fissure or crack could Frodo see in the frowning stone.
`There are the Walls of Moria,' said Gandalf, pointing across the water.
`And there the Gate stood once upon a time, the Elven Door at the end of the road from Hollin by which we have come. But this way is blocked. None of the Company, I guess, will wish to swim this gloomy water at the end of the day. It has an unwholesome look.'


Moria has two main entrances, the West Gate and the East Gate both of which are seen in the movies. The West Gate is seen in the Fellowship of the Ring when the fellowship enter Moria and are attacked by the Watcher in the Water. The East Gate is also seen in the Fellowship of the Ring when they leave Moria. It is also seen in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey during the flashback when Balin tells the tale of the War of the Orcs and how Thorin got his Oakenshield name.

If you have followed and built Mountain and Cavern Pieces, a lot of the hard work is already done as for both gates built in this article will make use of the mountain side built in that article.

The East Gate

Of the two Doors, the East-gate or "Dimrill Gate" is by far the oldest. In fact, it was hewn from a cleft that pre-dated Durin's founding, and for about a millennium thereafter it stood as the sole entry. The gateway itself is only seven feet wide and seven feet tall. Steeply arched, it is barred by two thick steel reinforced basalt doors, each of which weighs over three tons. These move on rollers which rest or lock in an inward curving track. In difficult times, the sturdy gates are secured with three pivoting steel lock-beams and seven movable rods that slide out of the gatewell and into corresponding holes in the door edges. Should there be a breach, seven portculli are spaced behind at even intervals in the pointed arch ceiling of the 14' Gate-hall.
The Great Gates look east from an exposed grey granite wall that sits m a niche above the Dimrill Dale. A 21' deep, 49' foot wide porch extends out from the cliff
wall and fills the mountain inset. Two huge free-standing purplish-red porphyry images of Durin's head flank the doorway. Crushed red marble composite covers the alcove floor, while seven 14' high hard red porphyry pillars support the overhanging grey massif that forms the low arching porch roof. Decorated with runic friezes and axe shaped inlays, it has a striking effect, particularly from the 21' wide stairway that connects the portico with the road.

The Mountains
The first stage is to expanded the mountainside. This is done by making two more mountain pieces as per the Mountain and Cavern Pieces article. These will be half the width and fit either side. One thing to make sure of is that the pieces line up well to the existing mountainside and line up to each other no matter which sides are put together. This way you get many options for setting the pieces up.

The Ground
The ground is going to be on three levels, the lowest being the gaming board built in the Simple Cavern Gaming Boards article. What you may be noticing now is that once you get going with terrain making, if you have put some thought and design in to it, future projects get easier and easier as you will be reusing a lot of work you have already built.

The next layers are built from Expanded Polystyrene. This is the white stuff used in packaging. You may be wondering why I am not using the better quality Extruded Polystyrene. The reason is money. Extruded Polystyrene is quite expensive where as Expanded Polystyrene can be bought in large insulation sheets from most good DIY stores at a reasonable price. The next layer is 2' by 4' in size. Alone one 4' edge glue on off cuts of polystyrene. Leave a 5” gap somewhere along the edge as this is where the ramp will butt up against. This is going to form a cliff edge. Once this done it is covered in Modrock and allowed to dry. The top surface is then covered in a layer of polyfilla and then PVA glue with some sand sprinkled in places.

The next layer is built in exactly the same way but only a 1' and a ½ wide.

The Ramps
These are again made from Expanded Polystyrene and cut to be 5” and sloped so to form a ramp. Glue off cuts of polystyrene on each edge and cover in Modrock. On the ramp surface cover in PVA and sprinkle some sand on them.

All the pieces are painted in the same manner as the Mountain and Cavern Pieces article.

The West Gate

Moria's West-gate is less imposing, but by no means weaker. Constructed in S. A. 752 by Narvi, an unsurpassed Dwarf-engineer, it lies at the end of a narrow passage of stairs hewn through solid granite. Two arching enchanted stone doors guard this 6' wide, 9' tall gate. From the outside, there are no cracks, much less an inset, to betray these doors. Only the road and a polished cliff face framed by gnarled holly trees mark the entryway.
At night, however, the smooth light-grey granite wall shimmers with the subtle glow from an engraved pattern of magic ithildin. The work of the Noldor Master-smith Celebrimbor, Narvi's friend and mentor, these inlays recall the Gates' origin. They depict inscribed columns, surrounded by bare tree limbs and surmounted by an arching bands of Feanorean Script. At centre, near the top,
is Durin's Crown and the Seven Stars overhead. Beneath that is an anvil and a sixteen-pointed blaze. But the words hold the key to the Doors' opening. Their two-part
message reads:
"The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. (Say) Speak, friend, and enter... If Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs."

As the inscription says, one need only say "friend" (S. "mellon") in order to pass. Then the Doors of Durin slowly appear. First a glimmer of light fills their expanding cracks, and then the doors magically open outward to become flush with the slick cliff wall.
The West-gate faces Eregion (Hollin) and looks down the valley of the River Sirannon. It stands watch on a grassy shelf just south of the point where the stream tumbles out of a defile in the flank of the Silvertine. The 2100' wide shelf runs along the mountainside over one half mile to either side of the Gate and is divided by the curving Dwarf-road which winds down into Eriador. Crossing north westward through vale, the road is graced by two paralleling rows of self-manicured hedges. It crosses the Sirannon about halfway and, upon reaching the cliff at the west end, it descends in a series of stone reinforced switchbacks. Meanwhile, the stream curves south westward to a point due west of the Doors of Durin. There it tumbles from the shelf into the canyon by way of a series of seven falls, the "Water-stairs." Here nature provides all the drama any adventurer entering Moria could ever desire.

The Doorway
If you remember from the Mountain and Cavern Pieces article, the doorway piece is interchangeable and now we are going to make a piece that will fit into the slot. It is made out of Extruded Polystyrene and made to be the shape of an archway. The doorway will be xxx” by xxx” and shaped in the usual dwarven style.

The door itself is made from foamcore and cut to fit into the archway itself.

I found a picture of the doorway online:

I sized this and printed it off so it was the exact shape as the dimensions above and using a ball point pen traced this over the door.

It needs to be quite a deep scoring as to still show through when the doorway is painted (which is done in the same way as the mountain sides). Using a fine detail paint brush and white paint, go over the trace lines.

The Pool
The pool is made from mounting cardboard. The can be purchased from most art suppliers. It is thick cardboard but even so to help prevent warping a criss cross of duct tape was applied.

The Dimensions of the pool in the scenarios in both White Dwarf and the Fellowship of the Ring Journey Book are 12” by 18”

Using decorators Caulk and a mastic gun pipe around the edge of the pool and shape it into a river bank with your finger.

Once the chaulk is dry cover it in PVA and sprinkle sand over it.

Once the PVA is dry paint it in greys that match the gaming board. The river is painted a dark grey getting darker towards the lower edge where the water gets deeper. Why paint it grey and not blue? It is a common fallacy to always paint water features blue. Water has no real colour of it's own and just reflects the sky. Being as this scenario takes places at night, and even in the day is surrounded by the greyness of the mountains, grey is a more suitable colour. Plus it gives it a foreboding feeling.

Cover the water area in PVA. It is important to get a good coverage so you may need to do two or three layers.

The next stage is to use Woodland Scenics Realistic Water, if you are unsure about using this product you can just stop at the PVA stage above, or even varnish to give it a shiny finish. Line the edges not covered by the bank with duct tape to form a lip. This needs to be 'water tight' with no gaps.

Once this is done pour the Realistic Water in and leave to dry, it is best to do this two or three layers. I also add some Water effects on the top to act as the disturbed water as the Water breaks through the surface.

The Trees
The doors of the West Gate are flanked either side by holly trees. This is where I deviate from the movie slightly as in that they made the trees empty of leaves and where holly trees are evergreen they do not loose their leaves, so when I read the books I always see them as fully green. I can see why the movie makers did this as it makes the gates more foreboding, but I am going to go for the image I have always had in my head when reading the book.

The trees are made from the old large Games Workshop trees. Yes those pug ugly things! First look at some pictures of some holly trees.

Now take a GW tree and a pair of scissors and cut away at it, shaping it to resemble to tree above.

Look at that! It's made them look pretty decent. Do the same with the other tree. Load some red paint and flick the paint on to the tree. This will be the red berries of the holly tree.

You now have everything made to set up the West Gate, you can scatter some painted up stones across the board too if you like.