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"...It is a long tale..." — Aragorn
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"Awaiting Ælfwine" by Henning Janssen
Biographical Information
Other namesEreol (Q)
Tol Eressëa
LanguageOld English
Acquainted with Latin and Irish[1]
Birthc. 869 AD
Notable forBeing the first person in millennia to find the Straight Road
ParentageÉadwine[note 1]
Physical Description
GalleryImages of Ælfwine

Fela bið on Westwegum werum uncúðra,
wundra and wihta, wlitescéne land,
eardgeard ælfa and ésa bliss.
Lýt ǽnig wát hwylc his langoð síe
þám þe eftsíðes eldo getwǽfeð.

Ælfwine, also known as Wídlást ("Fartravelled"), and called by the Elves Ereol, was the first Man to find the Straight Road and visit Tol Eressëa after many millennia.

Ælfwine came from a very early concept of Tolkien's to provide a "Narrator" for his work, and this concept changed greatly as the legendarium developed.


Ælfwine son of Éadwine son of Óswine was born an Anglo-Saxon around 869 AD, living in Great Britain during the 10th century. When Ælfwine was nine years old, his father sailed off with his ship Éarendel and never returned.[3]

Because of the attacks of the Danes, his mother fled with him from Somerset, where they lived, to West Wales, where she had her kindred.

He was a long way descendant of Eärendil, and had, like all of Eärendil's descendants, sea-longing in his blood.[4] He was a sailor and a minstrel.

Having grown up to full manhood and learned the Welsh language and much sea-craft he returned to Somerset to serve King Éadweard's thegn Odda in the wars. In the service of Odda he sailed and visited both Wales and Ireland many times. On his journeys he always sought tales of the sea, and thus came to hear the Irish legends of Maelduin and Saint Brendan, who both set out to sea, and came to "many islands in succession, where they encountered marvel upon marvel".[5] He heard also of a great land in the west which had been cast down. The survivors of the disaster had settled on Ireland and dwindled there; and the successors of these men all had the sea-longing in their blood, so that many sailed off west and never returned. Ælfwine thought he might be one of these descendants.

Around the year 915 AD, in autumn, the Danes attacked Porlock. They were at first driven off and Ælfwine's company managed to capture a Danish cnearr at night. At dawn Ælfwine told his closest friend, Tréowine, he intended to sail off westward, perhaps to the country of the legendary king Sheaf. Tréowine agreed to accompany him at least as far as to Ireland. They got two other companions: Ceola of Somerset and Geraint of West Wales.

"Ælfwine glimpses Valinor" by Janet Georgiou

Many days after they passed Ireland the voyagers were exhausted. A "dreamlike death" seemed to come over them, and soon they passed out. The last that is known of the journey is that Tréowine saw the world plunge down under them, while sailing the Straight Road.

When Ælfwine woke up, he found himself lying on a beach of Tol Eressëa and a group of Elves pulling up his ship on the shore. He came to Tavrobel, where lived Pengolodh who told him the Ainulindalë,[6] and he was shown the Lammas,[7] the Quenta Silmarillion, the Golden Book,[8] the Narn i Chîn Húrin,[9] and the Annals of Aman and Beleriand.

Ælfwine learned much of this lore. When he returned to England, he translated the Silmarillion, the Annals and the Narn into Old English, giving explanations on the many names.

Descendants of Ælfwine of the present time experienced memories or visions of their ancestors around the fall of Atlantis (cf. Númenor: Inspiration).


The name Ælfwine simply means "Elf-friend" in Old English,[10][11] and is the equivalent of the names Elendil and of course Elfwine. It is possibly intended as a cognate of Alboin and Alwin.

Other names

"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
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fl. 9th century
fl. 9th century
b. c. 869 AD

Other versions of the legendarium

Eriol has been a background figure in Tolkien's legendarium, being a frame character to whom many texts are fictionally attributed. Ælfwine is a later version of a figure Tolkien first named as Ottor Wǽfre in The Book of Lost Tales. Ælfwine/Eriol acquired lore from the Elves of Eressea, or translated existing Elvish works into Old English. Ælfwine is described as hailing from the north-west of England and his texts are in Tolkien's favourite dialect, the Mercian, a dialect which extended as far north as the Ribble Valley in Lancashire.

As a literary device, Ælfwine/Eriol was intended as an in-universe explanation about the origin of the legendarium. On the other hand, The Lord of the Rings suggests that Bilbo Baggins is the originator of the narratives, through his Red Book and his Translations from the Elvish which he compiled in Rivendell (which supposedly included Elvish lore including the Ainulindale and the Quenta Silmarillion). Ælfwine, or the idea of any real-world narrator or chronicler, may have been eventually abandoned in favor of this style of "in-character" narration by Bilbo and his role in the legendarium; even the name "Elf-friend" was given directly to him by King Thranduil.

Still, in some of the writings of Tolkien written after The Lord of the Rings, Ælfwine is still referred to and it is hinted that he may not have fully abandoned the idea of Ælfwine's translations, since the two frameworks (Red Book of Westmarch and Ælfwine) are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

Christopher Tolkien decided to remove all references of Ælfwine while compiling The Silmarillion since it could make the work too complex or complicated. However traces of Ælfwine's 'translations' remain, such as the archaic English 'translations' "Mickleburg" and "Hollowbold".

See also

External links


  1. Ælfwine was also said to be descended from Eärendil, though it was never specified whether it was through his father, Éadwine, or through his mother.