Some of the magic of JRR Tolkein’s Lord Of The Rings has dissipated with the discovery of a rare hand annotated map of Middle Earth revealing some of the real world locations the story was based around.
The poster map, drawn by Pauline Baynes is expected to return at least £60,000.
Seller Blackwell’s Rare Books in Oxford put the map on display for the media and pointed out Tolkein’s detailed notes alongside the drawings.
The map was found inside a trilogy of the Lord Of The Rings books included in a collection sent to the bookshop to sell from the late illustrator Baynes’ estate.
The insights show some of the cities from where Tolkein drew inspiration for some of his fictional fortresses in the books.
Italian city as Minas Tirith
One note describes the Italian city of Ravenna as the blue print for Minas Tirith, the capital of the kingdom of Gondor, which was attacked by an army of Orcs from Mordor.
Today’s Ravenna is a busy hilltop city, but in the past was the last capital of the Western Roman Empire between 402 and 479AD.
The revelation will no doubt come as a surprise to crowdfunders who sought to raise £1.8 million to build a model of Minas Tirith who are pitching for funds on platform Indiegogo.
More than 2,250 investors donated £87,656 to the bid, which closed just a few days ago.
In the Peter Jackman films, the inspiration for Minas Tirith was taken from the French island monastery of Mont St Michel.
Minas Tirith is not the only location listed on the map by Tolkein.
Two places vie for Shire status
He also suggests Hobbiton and The Shire are ‘on the same latitude’ as Oxford, where he spent many years working as a professor at the university.
The notes also hint that Jerusalem was somewhere in Tolkein’s mind when he wrote the trilogy.
The Oxford indication for The Shire will surprise many fans of the books, as Tolkein lived in Sarehole, Birmingham as a child and the woods and buildings around his old home were thought to have been key memories when he wrote about The Shire.
The area even has a Tolkein trail and points out that the red fires in the skies at night and the noises from the rolling and stamping mills in the forges must surely have given him the idea of dark and deadly Mordor.
Other buildings in the area thought to have been the two towers which gave the name to the last book in the trilogy.