Great Journey

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Great Journey
Other namesGreat March
LocationMiddle-earth, Belegaer, Valinor
DateY.T. 1105 to 1132 (Minyar and Tatyar) and Y.T. 1151 (Nelyar)
ResultThe Eldar reach Valinor and found Eldamar; separation of Calaquendi and Moriquendi; many Teleri remain in Rhovanion and Beleriand
Part ofSundering of the Elves
ParticipantsValar (and Osse), Eldar
DescriptionOromë leads the three clans of Elves westwards through Middle-earth and Belegaer.

The Great Journey, or the Great March was the journey that the Elves known as the Eldar took from Cuiviénen, the place of their Awakening, to Valinor.

At the dawn of the First Age,[1] the Eldar departed in Y.T. 1105 and by walking they covered a geographical distance of 2000 miles, from Cuiviénen to Belegaer (at Eglarest)[2] in Y.T. 1132; from there Ulmo used Tol Eressea to ferry most of them to Aman. The last Eldar reached Aman in Y.T. 1151.

History[edit | edit source]

After the War of the Valar against Melkor much of northern Middle-earth was broken, and then Oromë returned to take the Elves with him into the West. In Y.T. 1105 the majority of the Elves began to depart and were called Eldar, but a part remained behind, becoming known as the Avari (The "Refusers"), in the Sundering of the Elves. Even the Eldar however were reluctant, being used to the beauties of Middle-earth, and were urged by Oromë and their respective chieftains; the most eager were the Minyar, followed by the Tatyar, and the most reluctant were the Nelyar.[3]

Oromë brought them a gift from the Valar for supplies, the coimas, made of a blessed kind of corn that Yavanna created in the fields of Aman, she sent some to them. This began the tradition that only elven-women had the keeping and gift of lembas.[4]

Rhovanion and Atyamar[edit | edit source]

Oromë guided the Eldar north of the Sea of Helcar, passing under the smoke of Utumno that was ruined in the Battle of the Powers. Some Eldar fled in fear, and disappeared from history, perhaps merging back with the Avari. The Journey was very slow because they were filled with wonder and wished to stay with the lands and the rivers; often Oromë left them for his matters, and returned to make them continue the road.[3]

Years later the host passed through the Greenwood (the Teleri instead chose to circumvent it from the south), and then stopped by the eastern banks of Anduin; the Eldar were tired, and so fond of its waters and woods, refused to continue and settled for a time there. That land was called Atyamar, "Second Home", and were eventually joined by the Teleri.[5] While Oromë sought a way to get them over the Hithaeglir mountains, which were much higher in those days,[3] some Maiar protected the Eldar from the evils of Melkor and Sauron. However, after many years, Atyamar was struck by terrible weather (some say that Oromë withdrew his protection to make them continue the journey) and convinced most Eldar to continue on.[5]

Crossing the Misty Mountains and Eriador[edit | edit source]

By Y.T. 1115 Oromë returned, having found (or forged) the High Pass (where later was built Rivendell).[6] With the boats of the Teleri they crossed the Great River (which was wild and flooded due to the great snowstorms in the Mountains) but many of these Teleri were against this and they elected to stay.[5][3] Most Eldar went on, but a group of the Teleri remained behind and went down the Anduin under their leader Dan (or Lenwë), becoming known as the Nandor.[6][3]

The remaining Eldar passed north of the immense forests that covered all of Eriador, along a route that would become later the Great West Road[source?]. Finally in Y.T. 1125 the Minyar and Tatyar crossed the Ered Luin and reached Beleriand, while the Lindar still lagged behind in Eriador. For this reason they became known as the Teleri (the "Last").[7]

Beleriand[edit | edit source]

The Teleri finally entered Beleriand in Y.T. 1128 but remained east of Gelion; in Y.T. 1132 the first two clans were ferried across Belegaer on Tol Eressëa by Ulmo. When Ulmo returned for them in Y.T. 1150, the greater part of the Teleri finally crossed Belegaer under Olwë. But a part of the Teleri remained behind again, either because they were enamored by the shores, or because the Eglath were looking for their leader Elwë, becoming the Sindar.[8]

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

In another account of the tale, eventually published in The Nature of Middle-earth, the Eldar found the Misty Mountains impassible, with some were lost in the attempt to do so. Instead of crossing over, they wandered south into the plains (Calenardhon) where the Vanyar and Noldor settled about the Isen (near later Isengard) and the Teleri, lagging again, straggled in. They remained there while two further periods of begetting children took place, and then resumed their journey next to the Gwathló.[9]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XVII. Silvan Elves and Silvan Elvish", p. 357
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: VII. The March of the Quendi", pp. 47, 49; the figure refers to a straight line, not the actual walking route.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XV. Of Lembas"
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: VII. The March of the Quendi", pp. 50-51
  6. 6.0 6.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "The Annals of Aman": §60-2, pp. 82-83
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part One. Time and Ageing: VII. The March of the Quendi", pp. 59 - 60
(Quendi · People of the Stars · Firstborn · Elder Kindred)
Three Kindreds:
(Eldar · Eldalië · Edhil)
 Vanyar (Fair-elves · Minyar) · Noldor (Deep-elves · Tatyar) · Teleri (Lindar · Nelyar)
(High-elves · Amanyar)
 Vanyar · Noldor · Falmari
Úmanyar:  Sindar (Grey-elves · Eglath · Falathrim) · Nandor (Green-elves · Silvan Elves)
 Moriquendi:  Úmanyar · Avari (Cuind · Hwenti · Kindi · Kinn-lai · Penni · Windan)
See also:  Awakening of the Elves · Sundering of the Elves · Great Journey