|Other names||Great People of the West, Men of the Ancient Houses, Men of the West, Men of Westernesse|
|Origins||Descendants of the Númenoreans in Middle-earth|
|Locations||Eriador, Arnor, Gondor|
|Affiliation||Last Alliance of Elves and Men, Host of the West, Grey Company|
|Languages||Westron, Sindarin, Quenya|
|Members||Argeleb I, Aragorn II, Denethor, Boromir, Faramir, Imrahil, Morwen Steelsheen|
|Distinctions||Superior to the other Men of Middle-earth in nobility of spirit and body|
|Average height||About 6'4"|
|Gallery||Images of Dúnedain|
- "Where now are the Dúnedain, Elessar, Elessar?
Why do thy kinsfolk wander afar?"
- ― Galadriel's messages
Although they were from the beginning far fewer in number than the lesser men, the Dúnedain were lords of long life, great power, and wisdom; far superior to the Men of Middle-earth among whom they dwelt and whom they ruled.
The Dúnedain descend from the Edain of the First Age, having granted and settled the island of Númenor in the Second Age. Many Men of Númenor settled in Middle-earth, such as in Belfalas, Umbar and Pelargir. The ancestors of the Princes of Dol Amroth, were the most prominent of these.
After the Downfall of Númenor, Elendil and his sons led the Exiles to Middle-earth. Many who were in whole or part of Númenorean blood welcomed them and proceeded to found the Realms in Exile, Arnor and Gondor.
- See also: Dúnedain of Arnor.
Valandil, Isildur's youngest son, took up his rule in Annúminas, but his people were diminished, and there were too few Númenoreans and native Men of Eriador to people the land or maintain the places Elendil built; many had died in the War of the Last Alliance and the Disaster of the Gladden Fields.
After the reign of Eärendur, the seventh king that followed Valandil, the Dúnedain of the North became divided into petty realms and lordships, and the witch-realm of Angmar destroyed them one by one.
The remnants of the Northern Dúnedain were also heavily affected by the Great Plague; the joint garrison (of the North and South Kingdoms) at Tharbad ceased to exist, and the last of the Dúnedain of Cardolan died on the Barrow-downs.
After the Angmar War, the Dúnedain of the North were reduced to Rangers wandering secretly in the wild, and their heritage was forgotten, save in Imladris, where the Heirs of Isildur were harboured and their line, from father to son, remained unbroken.
- See also: Dúnedain of Gondor.
In the south, the realm of Gondor endured and the splendour and might of the Dúnedain of the South grew, until it resembled the wealth and majesty of Númenor during the reign of Hyarmendacil I.
However, in the later Third Age, the Dúnedain of Gondor waned for their blood became much mingled with that of other men, especially the Northmen of Rhovanion. King Eldacar, who himself had Northmannish blood, showed favour to the Northmen who supported him. This led to the Kin-strife, when many of the Dúnedain of Gondor were slain. After his return from exile, many noble houses, including the royal House of Anárion, became more mingled with the blood of "lesser" Men.
After the reign of King Eärnur, royal descendants among the Dúnedain of Gondor had become few and no claimant for the throne could be found of pure Númenórean blood, or whose claim all would accept, and people were afraid of a new Kin-strife that would devastate the kingdom. Thus, by default, Mardil began the line of Ruling Stewards of Gondor.
After the Stewards picked up the southern rule, the remnant of the Dúnedain of Gondor still defended the passage of the Anduin against the terrors of Minas Morgul and against all the enemies of the West.
Upon the reunification of the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain after the War of the Ring, the Dúnedain were reunited under Aragorn II Elessar, Isildur's Heir, and their the might and dignity was lifted up and their glory renewed.
They were tall, pale-skinned, with dark hair, shining grey eyes, and proud faces. Although the stature of those with Númenórean descent decreased from what it once was (more than 2 ranga), the Dúnedain were still about 2 ranga or 6'4" on average.
Waning of the Dúnedain
The Third Age marked the beginning of the waning of the Dúnedain, in which their gifts of wisdom, nobility, and long life were slowly withdrawn due to the Downfall of Númenor and their mingling with lesser men.
In Arnor, the strife and dissensions between the kingdoms of Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur hastened the waning of the Dúnedain. "More swift was the waning in the North-kingdom, for Eriador became colder and there, the Dúnedain became ever less". The Dúnedain of Arnor, unlike their kin to the South, were of unmingled Númenórean blood. Although, their lifespans ever continued to shorten, the Dúnedain of Arnor, especially their Chieftains, maintained significant longevity living to twice the age of lesser men. The Heirs of Isildur even lived up to 160 years or more.
After Gondor's numbers were replenished by lesser Northmen after the Kin-Strife, the mingling did not at first hasten the waning of the Dúnedain, as had been feared, but it still proceeded little by little as it had before. However, after the fall of the Kings, the waning was much swifter in Gondor than in Arnor. In fact, Hador the seventh Ruling Steward of Gondor was the last Gondorian to live 150 years and after his time the life-span of those with Númenórean blood waned more rapidly. By the time of the War of the Ring, few among the Gondorians passed 100 years with vigour, except in the more pure and noble houses.
Upon the reunification of the Kingdoms of the Dúnedain, the might and dignity of the Dúnedain was lifted up and their glory was renewed. Greatest among them was their High King Aragorn II Elessar who lived up to 210 years (the longest since King Arvegil), and he received in some measure their former gifts. He wedded Arwen Undomiel, daughter of Elrond, brother of Elros first King of Númenór, and so restored the majesty and high lineage of the royal House of Telcontar, but their life-span was not restored and continued to wane until it became as that of other men.
After the Downfall, Sindarin was the regular spoken tongue of the Exiles of Númenor. When they arrived on the coasts of Middle-earth, few among the colonists on the coasts remembered Sindarin since the neglected Adûnaic was used as a lingua franca among the Men of Middle-earth, which developed into the Westron tongue. They used the Common Speech in their dealings with other folk and in their governmental affairs. They enlarged the language and enriched it with many words from the Elven-tongues. In the days of the Númenorean kings, Westron became used more and more by the Dúnedain themselves.
Among the Dúnedain, "the kings and high lords, and indeed all those of Númenórean blood in any degree," for long used Sindarin. Many of the Men of Gondor could also speak the Elvish tongues, a notable distinction and characteristic among the Dúnedain there. Sindarin had long ceased to be a "first language" in Gondor, but was learned in early youth (by the Dúnedain) from loremasters, and used by them as a mark of rank and high-blood. For example, the Stewards of Gondor belonged to a noble family of Dúnedain of the ancient Faithful who used (beside the Common Speech) the Númenórean Sindarin tongue after the fashion of Gondor. It had changed very little since the Downfall of Númenor and though the Men of Gondor altered some of the sounds, they could still understand the Elves and be understood by them. Westron became used more and more by the Dúnedain of Gondor themselves, so that at the time of the War of the Ring, Sindarin was known to only a small part of the peoples of Gondor (and spoken daily by fewer); they dwelt mostly in Minas Tirith and the adjacent townlands, and in the land of the tributary princes of Dol Amroth.
Quenya was used by the Dúnedain, a tradition which has continued from the loremasters of Númenor, to be used for places of fame and reverence in addition to the names of royalty and men of great renown. All the royal names of the Kings of Gondor as well as all the Stewards until Mardil Voronwë were Quenya names. All the royal names of the Kings of Arnor were Quenya names. The Kings of Arthedain and later the Chieftains of the Dúnedain, however, took Sindarin names. At the end of the Third Age, there were more Men (being of Dúnedain descent) that knew Quenya or spoke Sindarin than there were Elves (those of Lindon, Rivendell, and Lórien) who did either.
- "I thought you knew enough Elvish at least to know dún-adan: Man of the West, Númenórean."
- ― Bilbo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
The Quenya name was Núnatan (pron. [ˈnuːnatan]), pl. Núnatani (pron. [nuːˈnatani]).
The Silmarillion is explicit in noting that "Númenoreans" and "Dúnedain" are synonymous terms. Nevertheless, it seems more usual to call those born in Númenor "Númenoreans" and their descendants living in Middle-earth post-Akallabêth "Dúnedain".
- Decline of the Lifespan of the Númenóreans and The Lifespans of the Ruling Stewards of Gondor and the Lords of Dol Amroth, by Alcuin
- J.R.R. Tolkien uses the terms Númenoreans and Dúnedain interchangeably; for clarity, Tolkien Gateway interprets the term Númenoreans literally, as those Dúnedain who were actually living on Númenor during the Second Age, whereas this article treats the race of Dúnedain in general (in Middle-earth and the Third Age).
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", "Appendix: Númenórean Linear Measures"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix F, "The Languages and Peoples of the Third Age", "Of Men"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- 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", "Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer"
- 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.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VIII. The Tale of Years of the Third Age", p. 227
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor" (edited by Carl F. Hostetter), in Vinyar Tengwar, Number 42, July 2001, pp. 11-3
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VI. The Tale of Years of the Second Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "IX. The Making of Appendix A": (ii) "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen", p. 263
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "VII. The Heirs of Elendil"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields", note 16
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "X. Of Dwarves and Men", "The Atani and their Languages"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", p. 34
- J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Realms in Exile", "The Southern Line: Heirs of Anarion"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Realms in Exile", "The Northern Line: Heirs of Isildur"