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Christopher Tolkien - Map of Beleriand (colored by H.E. Riddett).jpg
"Map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North" drawn by Christopher Tolkien and coloured by H.E. Riddett
General Information
PronunciationS, [beˈlerjand]
Other namesValariandë (Q)
LocationArda, east of Belegaer
RegionsWest Beleriand, East Beleriand
People and History
InhabitantsMen, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, others
DestroyedF.A. 587
EventsWars of Beleriand
GalleryImages of Beleriand
"Beleriand, Beleriand / borders of the faëry land."
Lay of Leithian, Canto II, vv. 399-400

Beleriand was the region of north-western Middle-earth during the First Age. Originally, the name belonged only to the area around the Bay of Balar, but in time the name was applied to the entire land.

Geography[edit | edit source]

Beleriand Map by Hope Maps

In the First Age, Beleriand was among the westernmost lands of Middle-earth.[1] Beleriand had a long western shoreline with the Great Sea Belegaer, including the Bay of Balar in its south-west. The Ered Luin (Blue Mountains) formed the eastern border of Beleriand, separating it from Eriador.[1] To the south, Beleriand was bound by the Great Gulf.[2] North of Beleriand were the highland regions of Hithlum,[3] Dorthonion, and Lothlann.[4] Some people considered the land of Nevrast to be part of Beleriand, while others considered it part of Hithlum.[3]

The River Sirion, the chief river of Beleriand, running north to south, divided it into West Beleriand and East Beleriand. Crossing it east to west was a series of hills and a sudden drop in elevation known as Andram, the Long Wall. (The river sank into the ground at the Fens of Sirion, and re-emerged below the Andram at the Gates of Sirion.) To the east of the Long Wall, was the River Gelion and its six tributaries draining the Ered Luin, in Ossiriand or the Land of Seven Rivers. The River Brithon and the River Nenning were the two lesser rivers of the western land of Falas.

By F.A. 587, Beleriand was mostly destroyed and submerged under the sea from the War of Wrath of the Valar against Morgoth. Only a small section of East Beleriand remained, and was known as Lindon.

In addition, fulfilling a prophecy, the graves of Túrin Turambar and Morwen survived as the island Tol Morwen. Likewise part of Dorthonion became Tol Fuin, and the Hill of Himring became the island of Himling. All of these together were also mentioned as the Western Isles.[5]:332

Regions and kingdoms of Beleriand:

Cities of Beleriand:

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Beleriand translates to "The Country of Balar" with the ending -ian(d) for places and countries. The OS form could have been *Balariandë (a slid to e because of the following i).

The element Balar refers to Ossë, who often dwelt at the shores (although this refers to the earlier legendarium when Ossë and Uinen were Valar of the sea, not Maiar of Ulmo).[6][7] It was from Balar that the Teleri expanded and "colonised" the region of Beleriand, hence the name.[6]

Nomenclature[edit | edit source]

The name Beleriand originally applied only to the region around the Bay of Balar whence the name, before expanded to refer to the wider region. Properly Beleriand does not refer to the Northlands such as Anfauglith, or the eastern lands of Thargelion; Nevrast and Dorthonion are "grey areas".[8] However the term Beleriand is sometimes used collectivelly in fandom to include all those submerged lands.

Other names[edit | edit source]

  • Middle Quenya name Valariandë.[5]:202
  • Eldavehtë (Q.), understood and defined as "a habitation, haunt or place occupied by Eldar".[9]

Location[edit | edit source]

Map of Beleriand and Eriador by Christopher Gilson, published in Parma Eldalamberon, issue 6 (1983).

The map of Beleriand as published in The Silmarillion (1977) shows only a portion of the region, with few common points to the better-known Third Age Westlands maps of The Lord of the Rings; the only explicit common references are the Blue Mountains, which formed the boundary between Beleriand and Eriador, and the information that in the Third Age, Lindon was part of Ossiriand that survived Beleriand's destruction at the end of the First Age.

In 1979, Charles Noad[10] made an attempt to reconstruct a general map of Beleriand and Eriador. Using only the few distance indications from the text of The Silmarillion, Noad's very early attempt is remarkable as it proves very accurate despite being published before Unfinished Tales (where the island of Himling was first depicted, with Tol Fuin mentioned westwards) and The History of Middle-earth.

In 1989, Ronald E. Kyrmse[11] independently proposed his own map reconstruction, aligning the isle of Himling with the hill of Himring. Kyrmse also identified Dolmed on the early map of Beleriand as being the same as a mountain on the Unfinished Tales map (depicted slightly apart of the mountain range and north of the wooden area in Forlindon), proving that Dolmed still existed in the Third Age (being too far north from the Gulf of Lune to have been destroyed). He might therefore have been the first to discover that Dolmed survived the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age.

How Karen Wynn Fonstad envisioned Beleriand relative to Eriador. The rectangle marks the region shown in the The Silmarillion map (canon); the rest, including the Thangorodrim, are Fonstad's extrapolations.

In 1991, Karen Wynn Fonstad faced the same problems when she attempted to make a world-map of Arda. She found a solution by combining an early map for The Lord of the Rings (published in The Treason of Isengard)[12] and an early map for the Silmarillion (published in The Lost Road and Other Writings),[13] both being prototypes for the published maps by Christopher Tolkien. She aligned Tol Fuin with Taur-nu-Fuin and Himling with Himring and filled the rest of the outline with some inspiration from the only world-map by Tolkien.[14] She brought the coast near that of Belfalas, continued the course of Gelion to the south-west, extended the south-western tip to emphasize the Bay of Balar, and assumed that area as forested, a continuation of Taur-im-Duinath.[15]:3 While the Iron Mountains do not appear in the canonical map, Fonstad drew them as a continuation to her imagined range of Iron HillsGrey MountainsMountains of Angmar.

Reconstructed location of Beleriand at the appropriate scale and position relative to Eriador, as drawn by Didier Willis

In the early 1990s, Didier Willis independently made the same attempt using the map from Unfinished Tales that shows Himling; the second map of Beleriand, which was published in The War of the Jewels and indicates distances;[16] and the draft map of the lands east of the Blue Mountains published in The Treason of Isengard, which also indicates distances. Quite similar to Noad and Kymrse's earlier attempts, Willis' interpretation shows a slightly smaller Beleriand than Fonstad's and places the First Age Bay of Balar closer to the Third Age Gulf of Lune.[17] Not knowing Kyrmse's earlier interpretation, Willis also independently recognized Dolmed on the early map of Beleriand and criticized Fonstad and Robert Foster who suggested the opposite.[15]:34[18]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

The earliest name in the legendarium was Broseliand (emmended from Broceliand).[19] The name is not glossed, but in the First 'Silmarillion' Map it is said that it is the English name for "all the lands watered by Sirion south of Gondolin".[20] While writing The Lay of Leithian, Tolkien considered several names to replace Broseliand, which also remain unglossed but Christopher Tolkien tried to explain:[19]

  • Golodhinand and Noldórinan, both related to the Gnomes in the stems Golodh and Noldo.
  • Bladorinand, related to Bladorwen, the name for Palúrien as "the wide earth, Mother Earth".
  • Belaurien, related to Belaurin, the Gnomish form of Palúrien.
  • Geleriand, Arsiriand, Lassiriand and Ossiriand, Christopher is not able to explain.

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

The early names Broceliand/Broseliand affirms that Tolkien was inspired by the legendary forest of Brocéliande.[19]

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor", p. 44
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta", p. 306
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beleriand and its Realms", p. 112
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin", p. 147
  5. 5.0 5.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Part Two: Valinor and Middle-earth before The Lord of the Rings, VI. Quenta Silmarillion"
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entry BAL
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "The Grey Annals": §2
  8. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, p. 41
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, "Words, Phrases and Passages in Various Tongues in The Lord of the Rings: Eldarin Roots and Stems", in Parma Eldalamberon XVII (edited by Christopher Gilson), p. 189
  10. Charles Noad, "A Note on the Geography of the First Age" in Amon Hen no. 38, April 1979, reprinted in Mallorn no. 27, September 1990, p. 40.
  11. Ronald Kyrmse, "The Geographical Relation between Beleriand and Eriador" in Mallorn no. 26, September 1989, pp. 25–27.
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Maps I and IA", p. 302
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, "Appendix: III. The Second 'Silmarillion' Map", pp. 408-411
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "V. The Ambarkanta"
  15. 15.0 15.1 Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle-earth
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, pp. 182-185
  17. Hiswelóce (fanzine, French), special issue no. 1, La Faculté des Etudes Elfiques, 1994; Mont Dolmed & cités naines — « Lhúndirien » ou le recollage du Beleriand et de l'Eriador, revised and improved version in Willis, Didier (editor), Tolkien, le façonnement d'un monde (2014), vol. 2, pp. 197-230.
  18. Robert Foster, The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, entry "Dolmed"
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lays of Beleriand, "III. The Lay of Leithian: Canto I (Of Thingol)", p. 160
  20. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Shaping of Middle-earth, "IV. The First 'Silmarillion' Map: The Southern Half of the Map", p. 226