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"The wise will stay here and hope to rebuild our town..." — Master of Lake-town
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The Burden of Time by Donato Giancola

The Swan-ships were Elven ships crafted to resemble swans.


The Teleri

"...the Haven of the Swans, lit with many lamps. For that was their city, and the haven of their ships; and those were made in the likeness of swans, with beaks of gold and eyes of gold and jet."[1]


The Elves of Lothlórien built a "swan-shaped barge", having a curved neck, eyes jewels, and half-raised wings".[2]

"...sailing proudly down the stream toward them, they saw a swan of great size. The water rippled on either side of the white breast beneath its curving neck. Its beak shone like burnished gold, and its eyes glinted like jet set in yellow stones; its huge white wings were half lifted. A music came down the river as it drew nearer; and suddenly they perceived that it was a ship, wrought and carved with elven-skill in the likeness of a bird. Two elves clad in white steered it with black paddles. In the midst of the vessel sat Celeborn, and behind him stood Galadriel, tall and white; a circlet of golden flowers was in her hair, and in her hand she held a harp, and she sang."[3]

Other versions of the Legendarium

In the Book of Lost Tales, Aulë seems to have been the first to make "great vessels like to the bodies of swans".[4]

A detail left out from the description of the swan-boat of Lothlórien in The Fellowship of the Ring (either out of space constraints, literary considerations, or because the idea was abandoned), has been provided by Christopher Tolkien:

"Two elves, clad in white, steered it with black paddles so contrived that the blades folded back, as a swan's foot does, when they were thrust forward in the water."[2]

Portrayal in Adaptations

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

A swan-ship can be seen along the banks of Celebrant, a small river running from Mirrormere to Anduin, near the tributary to Anduin in Lothlórien.

See also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "Farewell to Lórien"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lórien"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "V. The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr", p. 124