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General information
LocationOn the Great Sea, halfway between Middle-earth and Aman
LanguageQuenya and Adûnaic, later only Adûnaic
HolidayErukyermë, Erulaitalë, Eruhantalë

Númenor (Q: "westland", pron. [ˈnuːmenor]) or Númenórë (pron. [ˌnuːmeˈnoːre]), known in the Common Speech as Westernesse, was one of the names of the isle of Elenna, which was raised from the Great Sea by the Valar in the beginning of the Second Age. While strictly speaking the term Númenor referred to the realm established on the island, it was more often used as a synonym of the land itself. Númenor was one of the most powerful realms of the Second Age, and its people, called Númenóreans, as well as their descendants, had considerable influence on the events of the Third Age.



The island of Númenor was about 167,961 square miles,[1] It was located in the Belegaer closer to Valinor (about 39 days) than Middle-earth.

Its shape was of a 5-point star, each point having its own unique geological and physical features, therefore considered a separate region of Númenor and had separate names:

The island had a mountain in its center known as the Meneltarma, which was the highest location on the entire island and considered sacred by the Númenóreans as a holy place devoted to Eru Ilúvatar. Only the Kings of Númenor were allowed to speak on the Meneltarma's summit. It was said that on a clear day the 'far-sighted' might see Tol Eressëa, the island east of Valinor proper which along with it comprised the Undying Lands.

Meneltarma itself was a tall mountain in the center of the island placed in the region Mittalmar that, when translated, means "Pillar of the Heavens". The lower slopes of the mountain were gentle grass-covered, however, near the summit the slopes became more vertical and could not be ascended easily. The kings later built a spiral road to the peak, beginning at the southern tip of the mountain and winding up to the lip of the summit in the north. The summit, however, was unique in that it was flattened and somewhat depressed, and was said to be able to "contain a great multitude". It was considered the most sacred spot of Númenor, and nothing was ever built there throughout the entire history of the island.

Númenor had only two rivers: Siril which began at Meneltarma and ended in a small delta near the city of Nindamos, and the Nunduinë, which reached the sea in the Bay of Eldanna near the haven Eldalondë.

The island itself was tilted southward and a little westward; the northern coasts were all steep sea cliffs.



Númenor was the kingdom of the Dúnedain, located on an island in the Great Sea, between Middle-earth and Aman. The land was brought up from the sea as a gift to Men. It was also called Elenna ("Starwards") because the Dúnedain were led to it by the Star of Eärendil, and because the island was in the shape of a five-pointed star.

Elros son of Eärendil was the first King of Númenor, taking the name of Tar-Minyatur ("First King"). Under his rule, which took place between S.A. 32 and S.A. 442 and those of his descendants, Men rose to become a powerful race.

The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, to which Men were barred. Over time the Númenóreans came to resent the Ban of the Valar and to rebel against their authority, seeking the everlasting life that they believed was begrudged them. They tried to compensate this by going eastward and colonizing large parts of Middle-earth, first in a friendly way, beginning with Tar-Aldarion. The first ships sailed from Númenor to Middle-earth in the year 600.

The Númenóreans established several settlements in Middle-earth, such as Lond Daer. They contacted the indigenous people, teaching them several crafts, instructed them and helped them free from the Shadow. About SA 1200 they established permanent settlements like Pelargir and Umbar.

In 1700 Tar-Minastir sent a fleet to help Gil-galad and together they drove Sauron back, who had dominated almost all Eriador after the War of the Elves and Sauron.

The darkness comes

Ted Nasmith - The Eagles of Manwë

Soon the Númenóreans came to become proud and discontented, irritated by the Ban of the Valar. Starting to lose the meaning of the Gift of Men and of immortality they longed for Eldamar which they saw only from distance.

About 1800 they started to dominated the shores of Middle-earth and demand tribute from the lesser peoples which they had liberated and taught, and became a massive brutal maritime empire that had no rival. Fearing death, they tried to gain some immortality in riches and ornate tombs. Tar-Atanamir started to speak openly against the Valar.

In 2280 Umbar was strengthened with increased numbers of colonists and from there they began to dominate Harad. Even Sauron was afraid of them and retreated from these lands.

A few of them, the Faithful, remained loyal to the Valar and friendly to the Elves. The Valar displayed warnings to the Men of Westernesse in the form of huge eagles, but they paid no heed to these manifestations. The Faithful were persecuted by the majority of the population, which they called King's Men, who decided to abandon the Elven customs and languages. Ar-Adûnakhôr took his regal name in Adûnaic and not in Quenya.

The Faithful remained in Andúnië and the Faithful Lords of Andúnië, because of their noble heritage still had some gravity in the meetings of nobles. However Ar-Gimilzôr in about 2950 forced them to remove to Rómenna and the haven was closed to the Elven visitors. Tar-Palantir briefly attempted to cast the Shadow back and reunite the people with the Elves and the Valar, but did not make it to be. He was succeeded by his nephew, a sea captain who warred against the coastal people.

That nephew was the twenty-fifth king, Ar-Pharazôn, who in the year 3255, he sailed to Middle-earth. Seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron submitted to the king's authority, and he was brought back to Númenor as a hostage. By that time, however, the Drúedain of Númenor had sensed a coming darkness and all of them had abandoned the island for Middle-earth[2] Sauron soon became an adviser to the King as Tar-Mairon, and promised the Númenóreans eternal life if they worshiped Melkor. With Sauron as his advisor, Ar-Pharazôn had a 500-foot temple to Melkor erected, in which he offered human sacrifices to him.

During this time, the white tree Nimloth the Fair, whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor. Risking his life, Isildur rescued a fruit of the tree, preserving the ancient line of trees.

Ted Nasmith - The Ships of the Faithful

Prompted by Sauron and fearing death and old age, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada and set sail into the west to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands. Sauron remained behind. In the year 3319, Ar-Pharazôn landed on Aman and marched to the city of Valimar.


Main article: Downfall of Númenor

Manwë, chief of the Valar, called upon Ilúvatar, who broke and changed the world, taking Aman and Tol Eressëa from the world forever, changing the world's shape from flat to round. Númenor was covered by great waves and sank into the abyss, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron, who was thereby robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms.

Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth, and gathered the Númenorian and indigenous peoples living there, uniting them under them, as the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

After its fall Númenor was called Atalantë, meaning "the Downfallen", in the Quenya language. Other names after the Downfall include Mar-nu-Falmar ("Land under the Waves") and Akallabêth ("the Downfallen" in Adûnaic).

The story of the rise and downfall of Númenor is told in The Akallabêth.


The population of Númenor chiefly consisted of Edain, mostly descendants from the House of Hador; although before the Shadow fell on the island the westernmost cities such as Andúnië contained a small population of Elves because of the frequent visits from Tol Eressëa. They were known as the Númenóreans, or rather, Kings among Men.

The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in arts and craft, with the forging of weapons and armour; but the Númenóreans were not warmongers, hence the chief art on the island became that of ship-building and sea-craft. The Númenóreans became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the westward, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often traveled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the art and craft, and introduced farming as to improve their everyday lives.

The Númenóreans, too, became skilled in the art of husbandry, breeding great horses that roamed across the open plains in Mittalmar. Although they were a peaceful people, their weapons, armour, and horse-riding skills could not be contested anywhere else in Arda, save for the Valar.

There also was a small number of Drúedain living in Númenor, who, considered as Edain, accompanied their friends of the House of Haleth to Númenor. They were only few in number and dreaded the sea. They became uneasy when Tar-Aldarion started his great travels and urged him not to go, seeing the mischief to come. They did not succeed and one after another they took ships towards Middle-earth, saying, that "the Great Isle no longer feels sure under our feet, and we wish to return tho the lands whence we came". The last of them left when Sauron was brought to Númenor.

Plant life

Númenor contained many species of plants that could be found nowhere else in Middle-earth, for many of them were given to the Númenóreans from the Valar in Aman. Most important of these was the White Tree that dwelt in the King's Palace at Armenelos. A seedling from it was later planted in in the Court of the Fountain in Minas Tirith, Gondor.

The other parts of Númenor contained many types of plants, many unique to each of the promontories of the island. Andustar contained great forests of beech and birch at the higher ground, and oak and elm forests are lower altitudes.

The greatest delight of the Númenóreans, however, were the trees given to them by the Eldar. They grew mostly in the Western portion, Andustar. They are often remembered in song and lore, and few have flowered east of Númenor.

Because of the diversity of wildlife in Andustar, that region was soon called Nisimaldar, or the Fragrant Trees. Also only in Andustar could the Golden Tree be found, Malinornë.

In Hyarrostar grew the tree Laurinquë, which the Númenóreans loved because of their flowers. They believed that it came from the Great Tree of Valinor,


File:Numenor location.png
The location of Númenor in Fonstad's maps, between Aman and Middle-earth; the red line shows the north-south axis

Tolkien never drew a map of Arda showing where exactly in Belegaer, or relative to Middle-earth the island of Númenor stood but there are some narrative hints.

While sailing for Lindon, Vëantur had to fight the north and east winds[3] suggesting the the island was south of the latitude of Lindon. It is also mentioned that Vëantur was accompanied by (apparently migratory) birds in autumn and spring.[4]

The Downfall of Númenor, while also causing important loss in Lindon, most of all filled much of the Bay of Belfalas so that the city of Pelargir was left far inland[5]. This may suggest the island was more or less around the latitude of the Bay of Belfalas. As vineyards are attested in the eastern part of the Hyarnustar, Didier Willis notes that adequate climatological conditions for viticulture are quite strict[6] and estimates the island to be located around 40° N, indeed facing the Bay of Belfalas.[7]

As for the distances, we are told simply that the island was closer to Valinor than Endor[8]. It was said that from Meneltarma, the keen-eyed Númenóreans could sometimes get a glimpse of Avallónë;[8] the Fall of Númenor came 39 days after Ar-Pharazôn left,[8] but his actual voyage could be shorter.

Didier Willis estimates that as Vëantur could sail directly from Númenor to Lindon - not needing to find a closer coast and follow it up to his destination - the island was close enough to Lindon, with a realistic distance between 2000 to 3000 km.[4]

Karen Wynn Fonstad placed the island in her Second Age maps around the latitude of the Bay of Belfalas, but without giving any reasoning or calculations. It approximates the Númenórean ports of Vinyalondë, Pelargir and Umbar on Middle-earth. Her map shows the distance between the Island and Eressea approximately 1700 km.[9]


Númenor is a shortened form of the name Númenórë. The name is a compound of nūme-n "going down" (from the root √ndū, nū), sunset, West, and nōre "land, country".[10][11]


Númenor is the retelling of the Atlantis mythos in Tolkien's legendarium. Notably, he referred to a recurring "Atlantis dream" he had. The connection is more evident in the name Atalantë, another epithet of the Island which in Quenya means "the downfallen" (note that in Greek, Atlantis is related to Atlas; therefore Atalantë has no direct connection).

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, recounted the myth of Atlantis. According to him, Atlantis was in the middle of the ocean in the West (cf. Great Sea), its people were more advanced than those of the known world (cf. Kings of Men) but were corrupted by arrogance; the continent was destroyed by the gods and survivors created colonies, as in Egypt (cf. Realms in Exile). Also according to Plato the center of Atlantis was occupied by a high mountain-palace (cf. Meneltarma) around which a city of three circles was build, quite different from the star-shaped island of Númenor. Another element with both common and different points between the two stories, is that Númenor sunk when the fleet was attacking the West, while Atlantis sunk during a sea-battle with the Athenians, in the east.

Some parts of Númenor's history seem to have been inspired not only from Plato but also from researchers and occultists whose theories were widespread during Tolkien's time.

Ignatius Loyola Donnelly and Edgar Cayce were the most famous authors regarding Atlantis and mentioned events and concepts that Plato never did. One of those "original" elements told by modern authors and mystics was a civil war between two factions of Atlanteans (good and evil)[12] which reminds of the persecution of the Elf-friends by the King's Men.

According to those theories, remnants of Atlantean civilization survived by colonists or survivors in Egypt (and in Pre-Columbian America), which mirrors the Realms in Exile founded by the Faithful; furthermore Tolkien once equated the Gondorians with the Egyptian civilization.[13]

Uses outside the legendarium

C.S. Lewis' novel That Hideous Strength makes reference to "Numinor [sic] and the True West", which Lewis credits as a then-unpublished creation of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is one of many examples of cross-overs between the novels of Lewis and Tolkien, both of whom were members of the Inklings, a literary discussion group at Oxford University.

See also

External links


  1. Calculation by Karen Wynn Fonstad in the The Atlas of Middle-earth
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mystères géographiques n°2 : La position de Númenor, Du kirinki au puffin cendré (2000-2001). In this article, Willis suggested that the presence of those birds could indicate that the island was found south of the Tropic of Arda, but he later changed his mind.
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, p. 183.
  6. See e.g. Jones, Gregory V., "Climate Change: Observations, Projections, and General Implications for Viticulture and Wine Production" in Practical Winery and Vineyard, July/August 2007, pp. 44–64.
  7. Didier Willis, Tolkien, le façonnement d'un monde, vol. 2, p. 213 (map of adequate climatological zones for vines on Earth), pp. 215-220 (application to Númenor and discussion).
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  9. Karen Wynn Fonstad The Atlas of Middle-earth
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 227, (dated 5 January 1961)
  11. Carl F. Hostetter, "Holograph MS of Letter 227, correcting published etymology of "Númenor" (#1144)" dated 15 December 2013, Lambengolmor mailing list (accessed 15 December 2013)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958)