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Westernesse is a fictional kingdom in the Middle English romance of King Horn. It has been associated with various regions in the British Isles, among which are the Isle of Man and the Wirral district in Cheshire.[1]

Whether or not Westernesse should be identified with one or more real-world locations remains, however, a point of dispute, since the narrative contains little geographic detail, and only vaguely echoes historical events.[citation needed]

In King Horn, Westernesse can be reached by sea, and is ruled by King Almair. The throne eventually passes to Arnoldin, who is a loyal companion of the narrative's hero, Horn.[2]

Tolkien and Westernesse[edit]

Many people today know 'Westernesse' as J. R. R. Tolkien's translation of Númenor, the name which he gave to one of the realms in his fictional world of Middle-earth. Tolkien, who studied Middle English texts professionally, indicated in one of his letters that he had derived his translation from the name as it occurred in King Horn:[3]

I have often used Westernesse as a translation. This is derived from rare Middle English Westernesse (known to me only in MS. C of King Horn) where the meaning is vague, but may be taken to mean 'Western lands' as distinct from the East inhabited by the Paynim and Saracens.


  1. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 696 cites Cambridge Hist. of Eng Lit., i. 304.
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911, pp. 696–697.
  3. ^ Tolkien 1981, p. 361, letter 276 (12 September 1965)


  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Horn (hero)" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 696–697.
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (1981). The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. George Allen & Unwin.

External links[edit]

  • King Horn: Introduction, Lib.rochester.edu, retrieved April 2013 Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) — Introduction to the TEAMS edition of King Horn
  • Westernesse, TolkienWiki, 24 February 2004, retrieved April 2013 Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) — Tolkien on 'Westernesse' at the Tolkien Wiki