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John Howe - Beleriand and the North
"Beleriand, Beleriand / borders of the faëry land."
Lay of Leithian

Beleriand (S, pron. [beˈlerjand]) was the region of north-western Middle-earth during the First Age. Originally, the name belonged only to the area around the Bay of Balar, but in time the name was applied to the entire land.


[edit] Geography

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 (Blue Mountains) reached nearly to the sea. The land of Nevrast in the north-west 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 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 F.A. 587, Beleriand was mostly destroyed and submerged by the War of Wrath of the Valar against Morgoth. Only a small section of East Beleriand remained, and was known as Lindon.

In addition, fulfilling a prophecy, the graves of Túrin Turambar and Morwen survived as the island Tol Morwen. Likewise part of Dorthonion became Tol Fuin, and the Hill of Himring became the island of Himling. All of these together were known as the Western Isles.

Regions and kingdoms of Beleriand:

Cities of Beleriand:

[edit] Etymology

Beleriand translates to "The Country of Balar" with the ending -ian(d) for places and countries. The OS form could have been *Balariande (a slid to e because of the following i).

The element Balar refers to Ossë, who often dwelt at the shores (although this refers to the earlier Legendarium when Osse and Uinen were Valar of the sea, not Maiar of Ulmo).[1][2] It was from Balar that the Teleri expanded and "colonised" the region of Beleriand, hence the name.[1]

The Qenya name Valariande is also given.[3]

[edit] Nomenclature

The name Beleriand originally applied only to the region around the Bay of Balar whence the name, before expanded to refer to the wider region. Properly Beleriand does not refer to the Northlands such as Anfauglith, or the eastern lands of Thargelion; Nevrast and Dorthonion are "grey areas"[4]. However the term "Beleriand" is sometimes used collectivelly in fandom to include all those submerged lands.

[edit] Location

Reconstructed location of Beleriand at the appropriate scale and position

The map of Beleriand as has been published in the Silmarillion (1977), shows only a portion of the region, with no common points to the better-known Third Age Westlands maps of The Lord of the Rings; the only common references were the Blue Mountains, and the information that Lindon is a part of former Ossiriand.

How Fonstad envisioned Beleriand relative to Lindon/Eriador. The rectangle marks the region shown in the Silmarillion map (canon); the rest, including the Thangorodrim, are Fonstad's extrapolations

In 1979, Charles Noad[5] made an attempt to reconstruct a general map of Beleriand and Eriador. Using only the few distance indications from the Silmarillion, Noad's very early attempt is quite remarkable as it was published before Unfinished Tales (where the island of Himling was first depicted, with Tol Fuin mentioned westwards), and yet it proves very accurate even by todays standards.

Ten years later, Ronald E. Kyrmse[6] independently proposed his own map reconstruction, aligning the isle of Himling with the hill of Himring. Kyrmse also identified Dolmed on the early map of Beleriand as being the same as a mountain on the Unfinished Tales map (depicted slightly apart of the mountain range and north of the wooden area in Forlindon), proving that Dolmed still existed in the Third Age (being way too far north from the Gulf to be destroyed). He might therefore be the first to have discovered that Dolmed survived the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age.

In 1991, Karen Wynn Fonstad faced the same problems when she attempted to make a world-map of Arda. She found a solution by combining an early map for The Lord of the Rings[7] and an early map for the Silmarillion,[8] both being prototypes for the published maps by Christopher Tolkien. She aligned Tol Fuin with Taur-nu-Fuin and Himling with Himring and filled the rest of the outline with some inspiration from the only world-map by Tolkien.[9] She brought the coast near that of Belfalas, continued the course of Gelion to the south-west, extended the south-western tip to emphasize the Bay of Balar, and assumed that area as forested, a continuation of Taur-im-Duinath.[10] While the Iron Mountains do not appear in the canonical map, Fonstad drew them as a continuation to the imagined range of Iron HillsGrey MountainsMountains of Angmar.

In the early 90s, Didier Willis independently made the same attempt, also using the map from Unfinished Tales which shows Himling and also indicates distances, like the second map of Beleriand.[11] Quite similar to Noad and Kymrse's attempts, Willis' interpretation shows a slightly smaller Beleriand than Fonstad's, and the First Age Bay of Balar closer to the Third Age Gulf of Lune.[12] Not knowing Kyrmse's earlier interpretation, Willis also independently recognized Dolmed on the early map of Beleriand and criticized Fonstad and Robert Foster who suggested the opposite.[13][14]

[edit] Other versions of the legendarium

Beleriand had many different names in Tolkien's early writings, as found in The History of Middle-earth: Broseliand/Broceliand, Golodhinand, Noldórinan, Geleriand, Bladorinand, Belaurien, Arsiriand, Lassiriand, Ossiriand (the latter was later used as a name for another realm).

[edit] Inspiration

The early names Broceliand/Broseliand affirms that Tolkien was inspired by the legendary forest of Brocéliande.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Three: The Etymologies", entry BAL
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §2
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion"
  4. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 41
  5. Charles Noad, "A Note on the Geography of the First Age" in Amon Hen no. 38, April 1979, reprinted in Mallorn no. 27, September 1990, p. 40.
  6. Ronald Kyrmse, "The Geographical Relation between Beleriand and Eriador" in Mallorn no. 26, September 1989, pp. 25–27.
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Maps I and IA", p. 302
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion", "Second 'Silmarillion' Map" pp. 408-411
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta"
  10. Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth, p. 3
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, pp. 182-185
  12. Hiswelóce (fanzine, French), special issue no. 1, La Faculté des Etudes Elfiques, 1994; Mont Dolmed & cités naines — « Lhúndirien » ou le recollage du Beleriand et de l'Eriador, revised and improved version in Willis, Didier (editor), Tolkien, le façonnement d'un monde (2014), vol. 2, pp. 197-230.
  13. Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth p. 34
  14. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry Dolmed