From Tolkien Gateway
Christopher Tolkien - Gelion .jpg
Gelion in its course through the north
General Information
Other namesK. Gabilān
LocationEast Beleriand
DescriptionMighty river
RegionsThargelion, Ossiriand
Major townsSarn Athrad

Gelion was a river of Middle-earth in the First Age, the principal river of East Beleriand, being the border of Beleriand and Ossiriand.

The vale of Gelion sloped steadily southward and thus had neither falls nor rapids, yet was ever swifter than the River Sirion. Although Gelion was twice the length of Sirion it was less wide and full, for more rain fell in the west than in the east.

Course[edit | edit source]

Its two sources were at the hill of Himring, via the Little Gelion, and Mount Rerir, via the Greater Gelion (which also had a tributary connected to Lake Helevorn).

It then flowed south for forty leagues,[1] dividing Estolad to the west from Thargelion to the east. Gelion met Sarn Athrad ("Ford of Stones") just above the inflow of the River Ascar. Gelion then became the western border of Ossiriand, the Land of Seven Rivers, from which it was fed by the rivers Ascar, Thalos, Legolin, Brilthor, Duilwen, and Adurant, all rising in the Ered Luin.

South of the Falls of Gelion, after the junction of Gelion and Ascar, the river became swift and ever broader by the tributaries, the Dwarves of the Blue Mountains called that section Gabilān.[2]

Gelion then turned southwest, passing by Taur-im-Duinath (the Forest between the Rivers) before emptying into the Great Sea Belegaer.[3]

History[edit | edit source]

Between the arms of Gelion lay the ward of Maglor. Caranthir made his abode at Lake Helevorn, and the land of Thargelion, which signified the Land beyond Gelion, was also called Dor Caranthir, the Land of Caranthir.[1]

Due to the open nature of the land about the upper reaches of the River Gelion the region was subjected to many battles. Haldad of the Haladin built a stockade in the corner formed by the Gelion and the Ascar when an orc-raid fell upon his people in Thargelion.[4] During the Dagor Bragollach the dragon Glaurung came and destroyed all the land between the arms of Gelion.[5] Eventually the lands between the rivers Aros and Gelion became so dangerous that Dwarves traveling to and from the Ered Luin and Menegroth stopped going in small parties but went in great companies well armed.[6]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The name Gelion is Sindarin, but it is never glossed. In the Noldorin phase of the language, it is related with the Ilkorin word gelion ("bright"). However, it is noticeable that the same name is glossed as "Merry Singer", but applied to Tinfang.[7]

Other names[edit | edit source]

In Khuzdul, it was known as Gabilān. The Dwarves used the name only of the river south of the Falls of Gelion where the river became swift and ever broader.[2]

The name contains the element gabil ("great"), that also appears in the Khuzdul name of Belegost, Gabilgathol ("Great Fortress").

In a later text, Tolkien used the form Gevolon, clearly a phonological development from the Dwarf-name Gabilān.[8]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In later writings, Tolkien decided that the Gelion and Celon "river-names need revision to etymologizable words". Tolkien proposed many names: Gelduin, Gevilon, Gevelon, Duin Daer, and Duin Dhaer.[9]

The map V of Ambarkanta[10], developed by Tolkien during the 1930s, shows the mouth of the Gelion in the ocean. The river seems to flow (if we do not take into account a pentimento in the sketch) into an unnamed bay comparable in size to the Bay of Balar.


Seven Rivers of Ossiriand
Gelion · Ascar · Thalos · Legolin · Brilthor · Duilwen · Adurant