|"Cirdan" by Jef Murray|
|Other names||Nówë (T)|
|Titles||Lord of the Havens, Master of the Grey Havens, The Shipwright|
|Location||Falas, Balar, Grey Havens|
|Affiliation||Union of Maedhros, Last Alliance of Elves and Men, White Council, Host of the West|
|Language||Sindarin, Quenya, Westron|
|Birth||Between Y.T. 1050 and 1105 |
|Rule||Y.T. 1149 - F.A. 473 (Falas)|
F.A. 473 - F.A. 587 (Balar)
S.A. 1 - after Fo.A. 171 (Grey Havens)
|Sailed west||After Fo.A. 171, on the Last Ship |
|Notable for||See below|
|House||Kin of Elwë, Olwë, and Elmo[note 1]|
|Hair color||Silver, bearded in old age|
|Gallery||Images 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.'"
- ― The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens"
He was one of the wisest and most foresighted of the Elves, and by the Second Age, one of the oldest known 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 kin Celeborn.
Círdan, born Nówë (Q, pron. [ˈnoːwe]), was kin of both Elwë and Olwë, the kings of the Teleri. Of shipbuilding, whether by their first homes at Cuiviénen or when the Teleri dwelt by the Sea of Rhûn, Cirdan was always the foremost and most skilled in the craft. During the push westward, seeking to go to Valinor, Nówë and his followers kept going where most of his kin fell away throughout the journey. Despite Nówë's great eagerness to see the light of Valinor (his "greatest desire"), 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, Nówë 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.
Because of this, Círdan came to the shores too late during the second embarking of Eressëa. 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 be of utmost worth, remembered in song. Círdan answered in obeyance, and saw a vision of a ship.
Lord of the Falas
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.
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 conquered with the help of the Laiquendi, the Falathrim were driven to the very edge of the sea, where they were besieged for some months, until the Return of the Noldor, when Fëanor struck 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. The Falas was saved.
Wars of the Noldor
Círdan attended the Mereth Aderthad with many of his people, where he swore oaths of friendship with the Noldor. 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.
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 the banishment of Quenya and greater strife between the Sindar and the Noldor.
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.
After the 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 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.
Refuge in Balar
Turgon, 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 his kinsman. The way to the West was closed.
Eventually Círdan served as messenger, when Ulmo delivered him a message for Orodreth, warning of the doom of Nargothrond, and ordering him to shut his gates and cast down the bridge. The warning went unheeded, resulting of the Fall of Nargothrond.
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.
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. From that time on, Círdan was given foresight surpassing that of any of the Elves, perhaps some special grace of the Valar for his deeds in this world-changing episode (like the return of Glorfindel, who also contributed significantly). 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.
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. There he 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, doubtless being the foremost authority on both.
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. 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.
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.
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.
—Círdan, Appendix B
After the War of the Last Alliance and the death of Gil-galad, Círdan ruled the Elves of Lindon from the Grey Havens. For more than a thousand years they went undisturbed, 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 beings in Middle-earth, and he alone knew the true purpose of the Istari. 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.
Throughout the Angmar War, the Elves of Lindon under Círdan supported Arnor. They assisted 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.
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. 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.
Nothing more is mentioned of his actions until the War of the Ring in T.A. 3018 and later T.A. 3021. Galdor was his messenger to Rivendell and attended the Council of Elrond, speaking with authority on his lord’s behalf.
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.
- 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 Elves wished to cross the Sea. At that time, Círdan would abandon the Grey Havens and finally travel the Straight Road himself. On some unknown date, he sailed west aboard the Last Ship with his mighty kinsman Celeborn, but when he did so, he took with him the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth.
In the last years of the Third Age, Círdan appeared very old save for his eyes which "were keen as stars", wearing a long beard. Likely, he had grown a beard since having reached his third cycle of life.
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. 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, and his sending of troubling and potentially destructive rumors to his overlord Thingol. He was also the most foresighted of the elves, a gift from the Valar. He conceivably saved Elven civilization with the founding of the havens at the Mouths of Sirion, and with the fostering of both Gil-galad and Eärendil. His precious gift of Narya to Gandalf was also timely and valuable. He was clearly favored by Ulmo, seen by the number of messages passed through him.
Portrayal in adaptations
|Círdan in adaptations|
- 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.
- 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 the War of the Last Alliance.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", note 29
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", "Círdan"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Grey Havens"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Sindar"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Beleriand and its Realms"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Noldor in Beleriand"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Fifth Battle: Nirnaeth Arnoediad"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Of Tuor and his Coming to Gondolin"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Palantíri"
- 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
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Part Three: "The Etymologies", entries KIR- and TAN-
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings", "Círdan", pp. 385
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names", entry "kir-
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "From The Shibboleth of Fëanor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 41, July 2000, p. 9