From Tolkien Gateway
"Cirdan" by Jef Murray
Biographical Information
PronunciationS, [ˈkiːrdan]
Other namesNōwē (PE)
Ciryatan (Q)
Cirdan of Lune[1][2]
Cirdan the Shipwright[3]
PositionLord of the Falas
Master of the Grey Havens
Sea of Rhûn
Isle of Balar
Grey Havens
Aman (after the departure of the Last Ship)
AffiliationLast Alliance of Elves and Men
White Council
Host of the West
LanguageCommon Eldarin
BirthBetween Y.T. 1050 and 1105[4]
RuleY.T. 1149 - F.A. 473 (Falas)
F.A. 473 - F.A. 587 (Isle of Balar)
S.A. 1 - after Fo.A. 171[5] (Grey Havens)
Sailed westAfter Fo.A. 171, on the Last Ship[5][6] (aged at least 11,008 years[note 1])
Grey Havens
Notable forSee below
ParentageUnknown (Círdan was a kinsman of Thingol and Olwë;[7] he was also related to the mother of Voronwë[8])
Physical Description
HeightVery tall[9]
Hair colorSilver; with a long beard (in his old age)[9]
Eye color"Keen as stars"[9]
GalleryImages of Círdan

As they came to the gates Círdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and he was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said 'All is now ready.'

Círdan was one of the highest and most noble of the Sindar,[7] lord of the Falas during the First Age, and Master of the Grey Havens through the Second, Third, and Fourth Age.

He was one of the wisest and most foresighted of the Elves, and by the Second Age, one of the oldest named Elves in Middle-earth to remain so throughout that age and into the Fourth Age as well.

He was also gifted Narya, one of the Three Rings, by Celebrimbor until he surrendered it to Gandalf. As the Lord of the Havens, he oversaw the departure of the Elves of Middle-earth to the West and eventually sought the Last Ship with his kinsman Celeborn.[source?]


First Age

Early life

Círdan, born Nōwē,[7] was kin of both Elwë and Olwë, the kings of the Teleri.[7] Of shipbuilding, whether by their first homes at Cuiviénen or when the Teleri dwelt by the Sea of Rhûn, Nōwē was always the foremost and most skilled in the craft.[4] During the push westward, seeking to go to Valinor, Nōwē and his followers kept going where most of his kin fell away throughout the journey.[source?]

Despite Nōwē's great eagerness to see the light of Valinor (his "greatest desire"),[7] he loyally searched for Elwë upon his disappearance. Because of this, the Teleri missed the first trip on Tol Eressëa to Valinor, on which went their kin, the Noldor and the Vanyar. They took for their king Olwë, and while waiting for Ulmo to return for them, Nōwē headed the art of making and sailing ships, growing impatient. From this profession he took the name "Círdan" which means "shipwright" in Sindarin. The Teleri also developed a great friendship with Ossë. At the same time, although most of the Teleri had given up, Círdan sought Elwë longer and harder than most of his kin, partly because of his love for him and his allegiance.[7]

Because of this, Círdan came to the shores too late during the second embarking of Eressëa.[7] He came to the sands to find them departed, and as he stood forlorn he saw far-off a glimmer of light upon Eressëa as it vanished into the West over Belegaer. But into his heart came a message from the Valar which warned him that his ship could not endure the voyage, nor would any ship for many years, until the time when his work would be of utmost worth, remembered in song. Círdan answered in obeyance, and saw a vision of a ship.[7]

Lord of the Falas

Cirdan, Lord of the Falathrim by Peter Xavier Price

Círdan therefore remained with those Teleri who had chosen to stay east of the Sea for love of Ossë, and became their lord. The folk became known as the Falathrim, "people of the foaming shore", and dwelt in the Falas by the sea. There they built many ships, and the mighty Havens of the Falas, and found pearls which they sent to their king, Thingol of Doriath, who was known as Elwë.[10]

When Morgoth broke forth in the First Battle in Y.T. 1497, Círdan was cut off and unable to come to Thingol's aid. Further, although Thingol prevailed with the help of the Laiquendi, the Green-elves of Ossiriand, the Falathrim were driven to the very edge of the sea, where they were besieged for some months, until the Return of the Noldor from Aman, when Fëanor struck at Morgoth from the north. The siege of the Falas was abandoned as the Orcs were ordered northward to help their master, where they were all destroyed by Celegorm and his forces, and the Falas was saved.[10][11]

Wars of the Noldor

Círdan attended the Mereth Aderthad with many of his people, where he swore oaths of friendship with the Noldor.[11] Between Círdan and Finrod Felagund, King of Nargothrond, there was friendship and alliance, and with the aid of the Noldor the havens of Brithombar and Eglarest were built anew.[12]

When the tales began spreading (sown by Morgoth) of the Kinslaying of Alqualondë, Círdan, being very wise even at that time, was greatly troubled, feeling that these rumors sprouted from great malice. Knowing the jealousy and dissention among the Noldor, he guessed that the malice was that of the kinslayers. Therefore he dutifully sent messages to his overlord Thingol, telling him all that he had heard. This resulted in Thingol banning the speaking of Quenya and greater strife between the Sindar and the Noldor.[13]

Círdan made up for his lack of participation in the wars of the Noldor with his role in the Second Assault on Hithlum, coming to the timely aid of Fingon when he was most needed. The ships of Círdan sailed up the Firth of Drengist in great stength and then struck the unsuspecting Orcs from the west, giving victory to the Elves.[14]

Many years later, in F.A. 472, after the disastrous Nirnaeth Arnoediad, many fugitives came for shelter in Círdan's havens. The Falathrim mariners harassed the orcs in guerilla attacks from the sea. But it was only a matter of time before Morgoth attacked. Then came the disastrous Fall of the Falas. Though both Brithombar and Eglarest were strong, with mighty walls, both fell one at a time due to the impressive array of siege-masters Morgoth had in his train. Although Círdan's people fought valiantly, the walls were broken and most of the Falathrim killed or enslaved. Barad Nimras was cast down, and the Falas laid to waste. But Círdan and some of his followers escaped by sea, and he took with him the young Gil-galad, one of the last of the princes of the Noldor. They came to the Isle of Balar and founded a new refuge, but kept a foothold at the Mouths of Sirion, keeping ships hidden in the reeds there.[15]

Refuge in Balar

Turgon, the King of Gondolin, receiving the dreadful news, requested that Círdan send mariners to seek Valinor and the aid of the Valar. Círdan built seven swift ships, and sent them westward. None returned, save for only one mariner of the Gondolindrim who was also his kinsman.[16] The way to the West was closed.[15]

Eventually Círdan served as messenger, when Ulmo delivered him a message for Orodreth, the King of Nargothrond, warning of the doom of Nargothrond, and ordering him to shut his gates and cast down the bridge. The warning went unheeded, resulting in the Fall of Nargothrond in F.A. 495.[source?]

After news came to Balar of the Fall of Gondolin, Gil-galad was proclaimed High King of the Noldor. Círdan soon after became a fast friend of the young half-elf Eärendil son of Tuor and Idril, who had grown up essentially under his shadow, and was apprenticed to him. Círdan aided Eärendil in building the ship Vingilot, giving him advice and help. Círdan doubtless remembered his vision, and this ship was indeed a fulfillment of it.[7]

Círdan and Gil-galad came with their ships from Balar too late to prevent the disastrous Third Kinslaying, when the Havens of Sirion were ambushed and many fell. But Eärendil was not there, rather on a voyage, and the Silmaril of Beren and Lúthien had been spirited away by Elwing his wife. Thus, wielding the Silmaril, Eärendil came to Valinor and found the forgiveness of the Valar.[17] From that time on, Círdan was given foresight surpassing that of any of the Elves,[7] perhaps some special grace of the Valar for his deeds in this world-changing episode (like the return of Glorfindel, who also contributed significantly).[source?]

After the War of Wrath, Círdan, heeding the bidding of the Valar long ago, once more obediently abstained from finding his heart's desire and going West, but with a small following remained in Middle-earth.

Second Age

The continents were shifted, but Círdan still took up his abode by the sea, at the Grey Havens, which the Elves built in the newly-formed Gulf of Lune whence the Eldar could sail the Straight Road, but most of them were unwilling at first to forsake the lands they fought in and preferred to linger there.[18]

At the very beginning of the Second Age, Círdan was instrumental in devising and overseeing the construction of the boats that were used to transport the remnants of the Edain to their new land, which would later become the realm of Númenor.[19]

Círdan personally elected the Elven captains and helmsmen who were in charge of transporting the Edain to Númenor, and since those boats were small, it took a great number of such boats to transfer all of the Edain and their possessions - a process that took at least 50 years, and which only ended when the Valar instructed Círdan to cease any future migration of Men to the island.[19]

Many centuries later, in S.A. 600, Círdan welcomed the friendly and then-unfallen Númenóreans, making friends with Vëantur, chief of the mariners of Tar-Elendil, and later teaching Aldarion his grandson of ships (both management and construction) and seaside architecture,[20] doubtless being the foremost authority on both.[source?]

Círdan advised against the creation of the Rings of Power when Annatar came, but, like Galadriel, his counsel went unheeded in the midst of the ambition of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain. Nevertheless, when the Three Rings were hidden, Celebrimbor had appointed him to inherit one of them and so, Círdan received Narya, the Ring of Fire.[18] Sauron, having revealed himself in the destruction of Eregion and empowered by the One Ring he had forged, invaded Eriador in the same blow; however, he dared not attempt to take Círdan's Mithlond or Lindon, fearing they were too strong because they had the help of the Númenóreans.[18]

Círdan joined the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, and fought alongside Gil-galad. Many fell there, including Gil-galad and Elendil. After the battle, with Elrond, he urged Isildur, Elendil's heir, to throw the captured One Ring into Orodruin, where it would be unmade, but Isildur refused.[18][21]

Third Age

Take this ring, Master… for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself. For this is the Ring of Fire, and with it you may rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores until the last ship sails. I will await you.

Cirdan by Alystraea

After the War of the Last Alliance and the death of Gil-galad, Círdan remained the Lord of the Havens.[18] For more than a thousand years they went undisturbed,[22] but at around T.A. 1050, a shadow began to lengthen. It was at this time the Istari, sent by the Valar, came. Círdan was the most foresighted of all Elves in Middle-earth, and he alone knew the true purpose of the Istari.[22] He also saw deep into the future of Gandalf, and gave him Narya, his greatest possession and one of the most secret and sought-after treasures in the world.[18]

Throughout the Angmar War, the Elves of Lindon under Círdan supported Arnor. They assisted King Arveleg and the men of Cardolan drive off the Hill-men from the Weather Hills. Later, with Círdan’s help, Arveleg's young son, Araphor, drove Angmar's armies from Fornost and the North Downs. Combining forces with Rivendell, and the Galadhrim who joined them from beyond the Misty Mountains, they subdued Angmar for some time.[6]

In T.A. 1975, Círdan sent Elven sailors from Lindon on a ship to Forochel to rescue the lost king Arvedui. The crew endured a perilous journey, but Arvedui rashly attempted to return that winter, and all aboard perished. The next year, Círdan and the Elves of Lindon joined with the remnants of Arnor in the victorious Battle of Fornost.[6][23] Later, Círdan took control of the abandoned Elendil Stone on Emyn Beraid, which could gaze into the lost west and was without link to the other palantíri.[24]

Nothing more is mentioned of his actions until the War of the Ring in T.A. 3018 and later in 3021. Galdor was his messenger to Rivendell and attended the Council of Elrond, speaking with authority on his lord's behalf.[21]

The last mention of Círdan came with the end of the Third Age. When the Ringbearers came to Mithlond, Círdan greeted them before the gates. Although Gandalf, Galadriel, and Elrond passed west on the ship he had built for them, Círdan seems to have remained for a time.[source?]

Later history

Main article: Last Ship

Círdan maintained the haven at least into the early Fourth Age, but it was recognized that eventually, its purpose would reach an end when no more Eldar wished to cross the Sea. At that time, Círdan would abandon the Grey Havens and finally travel the Straight Road himself.[6] On some unknown date, he sailed west aboard the Last Ship with his kinsman Celeborn, but when he did so, he took with him the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth.[5]


Círdan is a Sindarin name. It means "Shipbuilder"[25][26] or "Shipwright".[27]

The Quenya cognate was Ciryatan (pron. [ˈkirʲatan]).[28]

Other names

Círdan's original name was Nōwē. According to Paul Strack, it was a Primitive Elvish name, but its meaning is unclear.[29]

He was also called Cirdan the Shipwright,[3] as well as Cirdan of Lune[1][2] (in both instances, without accent over the letter i, though).


In the last years of the Third Age, Círdan appeared old save for his eyes which "were keen as stars"; he also had a long beard.[9] Likely, he had grown a beard since having reached his third cycle of life.[30]


Cirdan the Carpenter by David Greset

Círdan had a profound effect upon the course of Middle-earth history. He was a loyal servant and friend of Elwë, sacrificing his heart's desire in search of him.[7]

This loyalty and sense of duty shows up numerous times over the course of history, including his second sacrifice in his submission to the Valar,[7] and his sending of troubling and potentially destructive rumors to his overlord Thingol.

He was also the most foresighted of the Elves, a consequence of the gift from the Valar.[7][22] He conceivably saved Elven civilization with the founding of the havens at the Mouths of Sirion,[15] and with the fostering of both Gil-galad and Eärendil.[17] His precious gift of Narya to Gandalf was also timely and valuable.[22] He was clearly favored by Ulmo, seen by the number of messages passed through him.


d. F.A. 503
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T.
b. Y.T.
unknown mother
b. Y.T.
b. F.A.

Other versions of the legendarium

The Lord of the Rings drafts

The character of Círdan is a fairly late addition to Tolkien's legendarium, with his first appearance in the drafts of The Lord of the Rings (dating to the early 1940s) being in an outline of what would become the eleventh chapter, The Palantír, of the first book in The Two Towers.[31]

The name Círdan in this outline was spelled as Cirdan, and in one other instance as Kirdan.[31]

Nonetheless, in a draft for the chapter Many Partings, the term Círdan is used.[32]

The Etymologies

However, Círdan's first appearance in the legendarium as a whole seems to be in The Etymologies (dating from the late 1930s), where his name was instead given as C(e)irdan ("shipbuilder" in Noldorin), with the (e) probably indicating a development from the Noldorin word ceir ("ship"). The name Ceirdan was itself changed from an earlier form Certhan.[33]

Later legendarium

In a late text called The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor (c. 1969), there appears a passage in which Tolkien briefly considered Círdan as being one of the Noldor,[34] in a text explaining the origin of the name Belfalas:

There appears, however, in the beginning of the Second Age, to have been a group of Sindar who went south. They were a remnant, it seems, of the people of Doriath, who harboured still their grudge against the Noldor and left the Grey Havens because these and all the ships there were commanded by Círdan (a Noldo).

However, Carl Hostetter later comments, quoting Christopher Tolkien's own commentary on the text:

The manuscript page ends mid-sentence, and without reaching an explanation of the element Bel-. Christopher Tolkien writes: "It was perhaps a purely experimental extension of the history, at once abandoned; but the assertion that Círdan was a Noldo is very strange. This runs clean counter to the entire tradition concerning him — yet it is essential to the idea sketched in this passage. Possibly it was his realization of this that led my father to abandon it in mid-sentence."

At no other point in the legendarium was Círdan ever considered a Noldo.

Portrayal in adaptations

Círdan in adaptations
Círdan in The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game
Círdan in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game
Círdan in The Lord of the Rings Online

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

His role as lieutenant of Gil-galad is given to Elrond instead (Elrond was Gil-galad's herald in the books). He does, however, appear very briefly in Galadriel's Monologue at the start of the movie, in the very brief shot of the three elven ringbearers.

2003: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King:

Círdan briefly appears as Frodo and Bilbo make their trip to the lands of the West.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Círdan appears in several flashbacks depicting the War of the Last Alliance.

2022: The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power:

It has been confirmed that Círdan will appear in the series' second season.[35]


  1. This figure is arrived at by taking the latest possible year of birth of Círdan (Y.T. 1105 - the year in which the Great Journey of the Eldar from Cuiviénen began), adding the 395 Valian years (where one Valian year = 9.582 solar years) + 590 solar years of the late First Age + 3,441 solar years of the Second Age + 3,021 solar years of the Third Age + 171 solar years of the beginning of the Fourth Age (since Fo.A. 171 is the earliest date in which the Last Ship bearing Círdan to Aman sailed away).

    Therefore, all these years combined give the approximate value of 11,008 years. However, readers should keep in mind that the above figure is the most conservative estimate, and that Círdan's actual age at the time of his departure from Middle-earth in the early Fourth Age is almost certainly greater than the one given above.


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil", The Northern Line of Arnor: the Isildurioni, entry entry 25: Arvedui, p. 195
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VIII. The Tale of Years of the Third Age", entry 1975, p. 232
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman": §70, p. 85
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", note 29
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", "Círdan"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin", p. 45
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens", p. 1030
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beleriand and its Realms"
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Noldor in Beleriand"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
  17. 17.0 17.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 339
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  21. 21.0 21.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  23. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Palantíri"
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 27
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries KIR- and TAN-
  27. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", "Círdan", p. 385
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry "kir-
  29. Paul Strack, "Nōwē pn.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 10 October 2023)
  30. J.R.R. Tolkien, "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000, p. 9
  31. 31.0 31.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Ring, "Part One: The Fall of Saruman", "VI. The Palantír", pp. 76-7
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part One: The End of the Third Age: VII. Many Partings", p. 67
  33. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry TAN-, p. 390
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XXII. The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor", pp. 387-8
  35. "Exclusive: This Fan-Favorite Character Is Joining the Second Season of The Rings of Power" dated 15 August 2022, Time.com (accessed 4 January 2023)

Born: Between Y.T. 1050 and 1105 Died: Sailed west after Fo.A. 171
New position
Lord of the Falas
Y.T. 1149F.A. 473
Falas overrun by Morgoth's forces
New position
Lord of the Grey Havens
S.A. 1 – after Fo.A. 171
Sailed west on the Last Ship
Celebrimbor, as its creator
Keeper of Narya
c. S.A. 1600 - c. T.A. 1000
Followed by: