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.
|J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location|
|Locations||Arvernien, Doriath, Falas, Nargothrond, Nevrast, Ossiriand, Taur-im-Duinath|
|Period||Start of Years of the Trees to end of First Age|
At the end of the First Age of Middle-earth, Beleriand was broken in the War of Wrath by the angelic beings, the Maiar, 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 thereafter 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. 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.
Originally, the name Beleriand 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 and Dwarves. 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. In the far north were the Iron Mountains (Ered Engrin), containing Morgoth's fortresses of Thangorodrim and Angband.
The River Sirion, the chief river of Beleriand, running north to south, divided it into West 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, "Land of Seven Rivers".
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 was a region called Lammoth, "the Great Echo". The Silmarillion explains 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 attacked Morgoth to get them; he let out a great cry, heard across the land. In Unfinished Tales, the name instead refers to the acoustic properties of the location and the natural reverberations they cause.
Arvernien is the southernmost region of Beleriand, bordered on the east by the Mouths of Sirion.
The Mouths were the refuge of the remnants of Eldar and Edain of Beleriand after the Nírnaeth Arnoediad and the Sack of Menegroth. The first rulers of this region were Tuor of the Edain and Idril of Gondolin. Their son Eärendil Half-elven, married the Half-elven Elwing, Dior's daughter. Eärendil and Elwing's sons, Elros and Elrond, were born in Arvernien.
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, as described in the tale of Beren and Lúthien from The Lays of Beleriand, parts of The Children of Húrin and The Silmarillion.
The Falas was the realm of Círdan the Shipwright and his Sindarin Elves in the years of Starlight and the First Age of Sun. They lived in two havens, Eglarest at the mouth of the River Nenning, and Brithombar at the mouth of the River Brithon. The Havens were besieged during the First Battle of Beleriand. When the Havens were later destroyed, Círdan's people fled to the Mouths of Sirion and the Isle of Balar.
Gondolin was a secret city of Elves in the north of Beleriand, built by Turgon and his Elves, and hidden from the Dark Lord Morgoth by mountains. Its destruction is told in The Fall of Gondolin.
Hithlum is the region north of Beleriand near the icy 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 means "Mist-shadow". Hithlum was subdivided into Mithrim, where the High Kings of the Noldor had their halls, and Dor-lómin, later a fief of the House of Hador. Hithlum was cold and rainy, but quite fertile.
March of Maedhros
When the Sons of Fëanor went east after Thingol became aware of the Kinslaying, 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. To the east was Maglor's Gap and Ered Luin; to the west the Pass of Aglon, which Curufin and Celegorm guarded. It was the only fortress to survive the Dagor Bragollach. But in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears the Hill of Himring was taken over by the soldiers of Angband. After the Drowning of Beleriand during the War of Wrath, the peak of Himring (also called "Himling", a typographic error) remained above the waves as an island.
Nargothrond ("The great underground fortress on the river Narog") was the stronghold built by Finrod Felagund, delved into the banks of the river Narog in Beleriand. It was a hidden place from the forces of Morgoth, Finrod established it in the early years of the First Age.
Finrod ruled Nargothrond until he joined Beren in his quest for the Silmaril, and the regency passed to Orodreth. Later, Túrin Turambar came to Nargothrond, persuading the people to fight openly against Morgoth, leading to its sack by the army of the dragon Glaurung. Glaurung used Nargothrond as his lair; he was killed by Túrin, after which the caves were claimed by the Petty-dwarf Mîm, until he was killed by Húrin, Túrin's father.
Nevrast ("Hither Shore", as opposed to Aman) is a coastal region in the north of Beleriand; its city was Vinyamar. It was the centre of Turgon's Elven kingdom until people left for Gondolin. The land was then abandoned until Tuor came there, guided by Ulmo; from a cliff, Tuor became the first Man in Middle-earth to see the sea.
Ossiriand ("Land of Seven Rivers") was the most easterly region of Beleriand during the First Age, between the Ered Luin and the river Gelion. The Seven Rivers were the Gelion which ran from north to south, and its six tributaries flowing from the Ered Luin, named (from north to south) the Ascar, the Thalos, the Legolin, the Brilthor, the Duilwen, and Adurant. Ossiriand was a green and forested land. It was the only part of Beleriand that survived the War of Wrath, becoming known as Lindon, where Gil-galad and Círdan ruled.
Dor Daedeloth ("Land of the Shadow of Dread") far to the north, lay around the fortress of Angband and the Ered Engrin. It was here that the Orcs and other creatures of Morgoth lived and bred. The march of the Noldor early in the First Age was halted there, when Fëanor was mortally wounded by Balrogs. The Noldor then encircled the land, starting the Siege of Angband.
Concept and creation
Beleriand had many different names in Tolkien's early writings, including Broceliand, a name borrowed from medieval romance, Golodhinand, Noldórinan ("valley of the Noldor"), Geleriand, Bladorinand, Belaurien, Arsiriand, Lassiriand, and Ossiriand (later used as a name for the easternmost part of Beleriand).
- This list identifies each item's location in Tolkien's writings.
- The Silmarillion
- 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.
- Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
- 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
- See The Treason of Isengard, p. 124 and note 18, and Unfinished Tales, note on map in Introduction.
- Tolkien 1986, "Commentary on Canto I"
- The New York Times Book Review, The Silmarillion, The World of Tolkien by John Gardner, 23 October 1977
- The New York Times Book Review, The Book of Lost Tales, Language and Prehistory of the Elves By Barbara Tritel, 24 May 1984
- The Guardian, Book Review, John Crace, The Children of Húrin by JRR Tolkien, 4 April 2007.
- Shippey, Tom (2005) . The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). The Lost Straight Road: HarperCollins. pp. 324–328. ISBN 978-0261102750.
- The New York Times Book Review, The Hobbit, by Anne T. Eaton, 13 March 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, Illinois: 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."
- Garth, John (2020). Tolkien's worlds : the places that inspired the writer's imagination. London: White Lion Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-7112-4127-5. OCLC 1181910875.
- Fimi, Dimitra (2007). "Tolkien's 'Celtic type of legends': Merging Traditions". Tolkien Studies. 4: 53–72. doi:10.1353/tks.2007.0015.
- 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.