||This Middle-earth-related article describes a work or element of fiction in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium|
|Location||Amon Ereb, Angband, Arvernien, Doriath, East Beleriand, Gondolin, Hithlum, March of Maedhros, Nargothrond, Ossiriand, Pass of Aglon
(Estolad, Falas, Himlad, Ladros, Maglor's Gap, Nevrast, Tol Sirion, Thargelion)
|Lifespan||Start of Years of the Trees to end of First Age|
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional legendarium, Beleriand was a region in northwestern Middle-earth during the First Age. Events in Beleriand are described chiefly in his work The Silmarillion, which tells the story of the early ages of Middle-earth in a style similar to the epic hero tales of Nordic literature. Beleriand also appears in the works The Book of Lost Tales, The Children of Húrin, and in the epic poems of The Lays of Beleriand.
- 1 Internal setting
- 2 Concept and creation
- 3 See also
- 4 References
- 5 Bibliography
- 6 External links
Originally, the name belonged only to the area around the Bay of Balar, but in time, the name was applied to the entire land. Beleriand was originally inhabited by Elves, and later also by Men. To the west and south it had a long shore with the Great Sea Belegaer, to the north were the highland regions of Hithlum, Dorthonion and the hills of Himring, to the east the Ered Luin reached nearly to the sea. The land of Nevrast in the northwest was sometimes considered part of Beleriand.
The River Sirion, the chief river of Beleriand, running north to south, divided it into West Beleriand and East Beleriand. Crossing it east to west was a series of hills and a sudden drop in elevation known as Andram, the Long Wall. The river sank into the ground at the Fens of Sirion, and re-emerged below the Andram at the Gates of Sirion. To the east of the Long Wall, was the River Gelion and its six tributaries draining the Ered Luin, in an area known as Ossiriand, or the Land of Seven Rivers. The River Brithon and the River Nenning were the two lesser rivers of the western land of Falas.
In volume IV of the History of Middle-earth are the early maps of Beleriand, then still called Broseliand, showing the elevation of the land by use of contour lines.
In the northwest of Beleriand, north of the Firth of Drengist and between Ered Lómin (the Echoing Mountains) and the shore of Belegaer (the Great Sea), was a region called Lammoth. Lammoth means "the Great Echo", and it is so named because it is where Morgoth and Ungoliant fled after the darkening of Valinor and Morgoth's theft of the Silmarils. Ungoliant lusted for the Silmarils and she attacked Morgoth in order to get them. He let out a great cry, which echoed throughout the north of Middle-earth. As it is told in the Silmarillion:
Ungoliant had grown great, and [Morgoth] less by the power that had gone out of him; and she rose against him... Then Morgoth sent forth a terrible cry, that echoed in the mountains. Therefore that region was called Lammoth, for the echoes of his voice dwelt there ever after, so that any who cried aloud in that land awoke them, and all the waste between the hills and the sea was filled with a clamour as of voices in anguish. The cry of Morgoth in that hour was the greatest and most dreadful that was ever heard in the northern world.
In "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin" in Unfinished Tales, the name instead refers to the acoustic properties of the location and the natural reverberations they cause. When Fëanor landed there in the First Age "the voices of his host were swelled to a mighty clamour" by the Echoing Mountains.
Realms of Beleriand
Arvernien is the southernmost region of Beleriand, bordered on the east by the Mouths of Sirion.
This region was home to surviving Sindar of Doriath after that land was destroyed. Some Noldor from Nargothrond and Gondolin, as well as the few survivors of the Three Houses of the Edain, also settled near the Mouths of Sirion. The first rulers of this region were Tuor of the Edain and Idril of Gondolin. Later their son Eärendil Half-elven, married the Half-elven Elwing, Dior's daughter and survivor of the Sack of Doriath. Elros and Elrond, the sons of Eärendil and Elwing, were born in Arvernien.
Elwing possessed the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien. The refugees built many ships, sailing across the seas and to the nearby Isle of Balar where Círdan had fled with the survivors of Eglarest and Brithombar.
Eärendil built the ship Vingilótë and sailed far seeking the hidden land of Valinor to ask for the pardon of the Valar. But though his journeys carried him to many shores, Eärendil was unsuccessful. While he was at sea, the surviving Sons of Fëanor attacked the Mouths of Sirion to reclaim the Silmaril. They killed many people but were almost all slain themselves, save for Maedhros and Maglor. Elwing cast herself into the Sea with the Silmaril, but was saved by the Vala Ulmo and sent to Eärendil. Maglor later repented, and raised Elros and Elrond as his foster children.
With the power of the Silmaril, Eärendil and Elwing found a passage to Valinor, where he pleaded on behalf of Elves and Men with the Valar.
In one version of the Silmarillion mythology, the chief army of the Valar landed at the Mouths of Sirion during the War of Wrath. By the end of the War, most of the survivors of Beleriand gathered at the Mouths and the Isle of Balar, and many of them went to Lindon until the Elves were summoned to Valinor, and the Edain to the new isle of Númenor.
Doriath is the realm of the Sindar, the Grey Elves of King Thingol in Beleriand. Along with the other great forests of Tolkien's legendarium such as Mirkwood, Fangorn and Lothlórien it serves as the central stage in the theatre of its time, the First Age. On this stage many of the notable characters and events appear such as: The Geste of Beren and Lúthien from The Lays of Beleriand, parts of The Children of Húrin and, of course, The Silmarillion. It is called the 'Fenced Land' because Melian, the queen of that land, put a girdle of enchantment about it, so that none can enter without the leave of King Thingol.
Himlad (Sindarin: 'cool plain') was a land in northeast Beleriand situated between the rivers Celon and Aros. On its northern border to Lothlann were the hills of Himring and the March of Maedhros. Along with the Pass of Aglon, Himlad was held by Celegorm and Curufin until the Dagor Bragollach, after which it remained uninhabited.
Thargelion (S. 'beyond Gelion') was the land east of the river Gelion and north of the river Ascar, and therefore not counted as part of Ossiriand. After the Exile of the Noldor this was the land of Caranthir, one of the Sons of Fëanor, and after him it was often called Dor Caranthir. The Second House of Men briefly dwelt here until they were nearly wiped out in an Orc-raid.
Maglor's Gap was a lowland region lying between Himring and the Blue Mountains, the widest break in the northern mountain-fences of Beleriand. It was guarded against the forces of Morgoth in the early First Age by Maglor, second son of Fëanor. During Dagor Aglareb the Gap was breached by Orcs however they were pushed back. During the Dagor Bragollach, Glaurung came through the pass and the Elves were defeated; Maglor fled to Himring, along with most survivors of the battle in that region and Thargelion was deserted.
The Falas was the realm of Círdan the Shipwright and his people, Sindarin Elves who were known as the Falathrim. They lived in two great walled havens, Eglarest at the mouth of the River Nenning, and to the north of that Brithombar at the mouth of the River Brithon. The Havens were besieged during the First Battle of Beleriand, but during the Dagor-nuin-Giliath the Orcs that besieged the cities went north to fight the Noldor, and were all slain. After 45 F.A. West Beleriand was ruled by Finrod Felagund who ruled from Nargothrond, and Círdan was his ally.
Gondolin was a secret city of Elves in the north of Beleriand. As recounted in The Silmarillion, the Vala Ulmo, the Lord of Waters, revealed the location of the Vale of Tumladen to the Noldorin Lord Turgon in a dream. Under this divine guidance, Turgon travelled from his kingdom in Nevrast and found the vale. Within the Echoriath, the Encircling Mountains, just west of Dorthonion and east of the River Sirion, lay a round level plain with sheer walls on all sides and a ravine and tunnel leading out to the southwest known as the Hidden Way. In the middle of the vale there was a steep hill which was called Amon Gwareth, the "Hill of Watching". There Turgon decided to found a great city, designed after the city of Tirion in Valinor that the Noldor had left when they went into exile, that would be protected by the mountains and hidden from the Dark Lord Morgoth.
Turgon and his people built Gondolin in secret. After it was completed, he took with him to dwell in the hidden city his entire people in Nevrast — almost a third of the Noldor of Fingolfin's House — as well as nearly three quarters of the northern Sindar.
Hithlum is the region north of Beleriand near the Helcaraxë. It was separated from Beleriand proper by the Ered Wethrin mountain chain, and was named after the sea mists which formed there at times: Hithlum is Sindarin for "Mist-shadow"; its Quenya counterpart is Hísilómë. Hithlum was subdivided in Mithrim, where the High Kings of the Noldor had their halls, and Dor-lómin, which later became a fief of the House of Hador. Hithlum was cold and rainy, but quite fertile. The Noldor landed here in the Firth of Drengist and first camped at the shores of Lake Mithrim.
The Ered Wethrin ("Mountains of Shadow") formed the southern and eastern wall, and had only a few passes; as such they formed a natural defensive line. The western wall was formed by the Ered Lómin or "Echoing Mountains", which curved north-westward to Helcaraxë. The land of Lammoth lay west of the Ered Lómin and was not part of Beleriand or Hithlum. The land of Nevrast was separated from Hithlum by the southern part of the Ered Lómin range. Nevrast was usually seen as part of Hithlum, but its climate was that of Beleriand.
Later in the First Age, Hithlum was continually under attack by Morgoth, finally being lost after the Nírnaeth Arnoediad. The Hadorians were scattered, killed, or enslaved, the Noldor were enslaved in Morgoth's mines if they could not flee in time, and Morgoth trapped the Easterlings there. Hithlum was completely destroyed during the War of Wrath.
March of Maedhros
When the Sons of Fëanor went east after Thingol became aware of the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, a great fortress was built on the hill of Himring in northeast Beleriand. It was the chief stronghold of Maedhros, from which he guarded the northeastern border region that became known as the March of Maedhros. The Hill of Himring is described as "wide-shouldered, bare of trees, and flat upon its summit, surrounded by many lesser hills". To the east of them was Maglor's Gap and Ered Luin; to the west the Pass of Aglon, which Curufin and Celegorm guarded. In the wooded hills around Himring were the springs of the rivers Celon and Little Gelion.
The fortress upon Himring was the only in the East Beleriand to stand firm through the Dagor Bragollach, and many survivors from the surrounding regions, including Maedhros' brother Maglor, rallied there. But in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears the Sons of Fëanor were utterly defeated; the March of Maedhros was no more, and the Hill of Himring was garrisoned by the soldiers of Angband.
Nargothrond (S. Narog-Ost-Rond, 'The great underground fortress on the river Narog'), called Nulukkhizdīn by the Dwarves, was the stronghold built by Finrod Felagund, delved into the banks of the river Narog in Beleriand, and the lands to the north (the Talath Dirnen or Guarded Plain) ruled by the city. Inspired by Menegroth in Doriath, and seeking a hidden place from which to be safe from the forces of Morgoth, Finrod established it in the early years of the First Age, in the Caverns of Narog beneath the forested hills of Taur-en-Faroth on the western bank of Narog. The original denizens of this huge cave system had been the Noegyth Nibin, the so-called 'Petty-dwarves', but whether they were driven out of their homes by Finrod's people, or earlier by the nearby Sindar, is not known.
Finrod ruled Nargothrond until he joined Beren in his quest for the Silmaril, and the regency passed to his nephew (or brother) Orodreth. Later, Túrin Turambar came to Nargothrond and became one of its greatest warriors, but he also persuaded the people to fight openly against Morgoth (the bridge was built at this time), which eventually led to its sack by the army of the dragon Glaurung. Glaurung then used Nargothrond as his lair until his death not long afterwards at Túrin's hands, after which the caves were claimed by Mîm, the last of the Petty-dwarves, until he himself was slain by Húrin, Túrin's father. After Húrin's deed, the caves were probably completely abandoned, as they fall out of recorded history in Tolkien's fiction, but they were certainly drowned and lost along with the rest of Beleriand at the end of the First Age.
Nevrast is a coastal region in the north of Beleriand. The name means Hither Shore in Sindarin, as opposed to the Distant Shore of Aman and was originally applied to all the shores of Beleriand (although Nevrast was usually not included in West Beleriand). Nevrast was the centre of an Elven kingdom of Turgon for about a century until ca. 125 F.A., when the people began their trek to Gondolin. Turgon's capital (and it seems the only city of Nevrast) was Vinyamar. The land was not permanently inhabited after that, and indeed was utterly abandoned until Tuor came there, guided by Ulmo. Nevrast was the first part of Beleriand the Noldor settled, but was previously inhabited by Sindar. Nevrast' population was soon very mixed, far more so than any other region of Beleriand.
The Seven Rivers were, from north to south:
- River Gelion
- River Ascar or Rathlóriel
- River Thalos
- River Legolin
- River Brilthor
- River Duilwen
- River Adurant
Along the northern shore of the Ascar ran the Dwarf-road to Nogrod. Ossiriand was a green and forested land, and it was not populated by the Sindar. In the early First Age before the rise of the Moon, a part of the Telerin Elven people called Nandor entered Ossiriand under their leader Denethor, and were given permission by Thingol to settle the lands. After them the land was often renamed Lindon, for The Singers, after the old clan-name of the Telerin which the Nandor still used in their tongue. They became known as the Laiquendi, or Green Elves.
Ossiriand was the only part of Beleriand that survived the War of Wrath, but Belegaer the Great Sea broke through the mountain chain at the former riverbed of Ascar, creating the Gulf of Lhûn. In the Second Age and Third Age the former lands of Ossiriand and Thargelion were known as Lindon, where Gil-galad and Círdan ruled.
Dor Daedeloth, or Land of the Shadow of Dread, lay around the fortress of Angband and on both sides of the Ered Engrin. It was here that the Orcs and other creatures of Morgoth lived and bred. Dor Daedeloth lay north of Ard-galen, the great grassy plain north of Beleriand.
At the end of the First Age of Middle-earth Y.S. 583, Beleriand was broken in the War of Wrath by the angelic beings, the Valar against the demonic Morgoth (himself a Vala fallen into evil). As the inhabitants of Beleriand, including masterless Orcs, beasts of Angband, Elves, Men and Dwarves, fled, much of Beleriand sank in the sea. Only a small section of East Beleriand remained, and was known after as Lindon, in the Northwest of Middle-earth of the Second and Third Age. Other parts of East Beleriand survived into the Second Age, but were completely destroyed along with the island kingdom of Númenor. One reference to a part that was not destroyed was made in The Silmarillion to the places of death of Túrin Turambar, Morwen and Nienor. Fulfilling a prophecy, the graves of Túrin Turambar and Morwen survived as the island Tol Morwen. Likewise, a part of Dorthonion became Tol Fuin, and Himring became an island. Of note is what Galadriel said to Treebeard at their parting in Isengard, "Not in Middle-earth, nor until the lands that lie under the wave are lifted up again. Then in the willow-meads of Tasarinan we may meet in the spring. Farewell!" This seems to imply that Beleriand may be existent again.
Concept and creation
Beleriand had many different names in Tolkien's early writings:
- Broceliand, Broseliand (borrowed from medieval romance)
- Golodhinand, Noldórinan ("valley of the Noldor")
- Ossiriand (later used as a name for the easternmost part of Beleriand).
- The New York Times Book Review, The Silmarillion, The World of Tolkien by John Gardner, October 23, 1977
- The New York Times Book Review, The Book of Lost Tales, Language and Prehistory of the Elves By Barbara Tritel, May 24, 1984
- The Guardian, Book Review, John Crace, The Children of Húrin by JRR Tolkien, April 4, 2007.
- Tolkien 1986, pp. 219-234. The overall geography of Beleriand will remain nearly unchanged from this map although many smaller details are added or subtracted as stories are developed, or rewritten.
- New York Times Book Review, The Hobbit, by Anne T. Eaton, March 13, 1938, "After the dwarves and Bilbo have passed ...over the Misty Mountains and through forests that suggest those of William Morris's prose romances." (emphasis added)
- Lobdell, Jared . A Tolkien Compass. La Salle, IL: Open Court. ISBN 0-87548-316-X. p. 84, "only look at The Lord of the Rings for the briefest of times to catch a vision of ancient forests, of trees like men walking, of leaves and sunlight, and of deep shadows."
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 14 Of Beleriand and its Realms, ISBN 0-395-25730-1
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien, ed., The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, The Grey Annals, p. 77, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
- Most canonical maps give the Island's name as Himling, but this spelling is erroneous: it was originally a name used by J. R. R. Tolkien for the Hill itself, later replaced by Himring. The Island appears only once on an early map for The Lord of the Rings and is labeled Himling there. Since the map was later than the change, Christopher Tolkien decided to retain this spelling onto his map for the Unfinished Tales (included also into recent editions of The Lord of the Rings). But in a rough note, which is contemporary with J. R. R. Tolkien's map, the Hill itself is called Himling, suggesting that the Isle's name is an equal slip. See The Treason of Isengard, p. 124 and note 18, and Unfinished Tales, note on the map in Introduction.
- Tolkien 1986, "Commentary on Canto I"
- Fimi, Dimitra (2007). "Tolkien’s ‘Celtic type of legends’: Merging Traditions". Tolkien Studies 4: 53–72.
- Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-31555-7
- Fonstad, Karen Wynn (1991), The Atlas of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 0-618-12699-6
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1983), J. R. R. Tolkien: The Monsters & the Critics, London: HarperCollins (published 1997), ISBN 0-261-10263-X
- Tolkien, J. R .R. (1986). Christopher Tolkien, ed. The Shaping of Middle-earth. George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-823279-3.
- Parma Endorion: Essays on Middle-earth (3rd edition) by Michael Martinez
- Maps Of Middle-earth at www.douglas.eckhart.btinternet.co.uk
- Encyclopedia of Arda: Beleriand with map