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Long Winter

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Long Winter
LocationEriador, Dunland, Rohan
DateNovember to March, T.A. 2758 - 2759
ResultThousands of lives lost in Rohan and The Shire
ParticipantsHobbits, Dunlendings, Rohirrim
DescriptionLong, cold winter; Rohan covered in snow for five months
The Long Winter (November T.A. 2758 to March 2759[1]) was an extremely cold and long-lasting winter in Middle-earth, covering Eriador, Dunland and Rohan.




King Helm Hammerhand was trapped in the Hornburg, where he was forced to make desperate raids on the Dunlendings led by Wulf in order to get food. Gondor was unable to send help as its coasts and east flank were under attack. In the north the people of Arnor also suffered greatly, dying of hunger.

The winter ended in March T.A. 2759, when great floods of smeltwater allowed Helm's nephew Fréaláf Hildeson to oust the Dunlendings from Rohan, and Gondor now could come for help so that Rohan was soon cleared.


Although the Long Winter did not affect Gondor directly, it did have an indirect affect. In T.A. 2758, fleets of Corsairs and Haradrim began to assail the coasts of Gondor as far north as the mouth of the River Isen;[2] due to the dual perils of the Long Winter and the war with the Dunlendings, the Rohirrim were unable to send help.[3]

Due to Rohan's weakness, Beren gives keys to Orthanc to Saurman (2759)

Gondor sends aid in the spring.

The Shire

It is told in both the Tale of Years and the Prologue that the Long Winter resulted in the deaths of many thousands of Hobbits in The Shire.[4] Although Gandalf came to the aid of the Hobbits,[5] a dreadful famine followed the Long Winter, known as the Days of Dearth, which lasted into T.A. 2960.

The Long Winter had a more indirect effect on the history of The Shire, The One Ring and Middle-earth: it was during the Long Winter that Gandalf first became fond of Hobbits and their affairs, which indirectly led to Gandalf's selection of Bilbo Baggins to go on the Quest of Erebor:

"'And then there was the Shire-folk. I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive. [...] And anyway you must begin at some point, with some on person. I dare say he was "chosen" and I was only chosen to choose him; but I picked out Bilbo.'"
Gandalf speaking to Pippin[6][7]

See Also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Heirs of Elendil", p. 205
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Hobbits"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas A. Anderson, The Annotated Hobbit, "Appendix A. The Quest of Erebor", p. 370