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Tol Eressëa

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Ingilnórë)
"Parting from Eressea" by Billy Mosig
Tol Eressëa
General Information
Pronunciationtol eh-res-seh-ah
Other namesThe Lonely Island
LocationAman off the coast of Valinor, east of the Bay of Eldamar; surrounded by Enchanted Isles
DescriptionArrowhead-shaped island, green and beautiful
Major SettlementsAvallónë
People and History
InhabitantsEldar, mostly Teleri
CreatedY.T. 1151
GalleryImages of Tol Eressëa

Tol Eressëa was a large island off the coast of Eldamar. Its name translates from Quenya as the Lonely Island, for it lay originally in the middle of the Belegaer, far from any other landmasses.

Ulmo pushed it back and forth across Belegaer twice to transport the Elves to Aman. After that, it came to rest forever just off the eastern shore of that continent in the Bay of Eldamar, and was inhabited by the Teleri of Aman, until they left for Alqualondë.

With the end of the First Age, many of the Eldar of Middle-earth (and the Teleri that never left it) went to Aman, and lived on the island of Tol Eressëa. Its principal location is the port city of Avallónë on the eastern shore.


The founding of Tol Eressëa

When the time came for the Eldar to go to the undying lands of Aman in the west, the Valar bid Ulmo to bring them there safely. As they could not cross the treacherous pass of ice in the north called the Helcaraxë that connected the lands, Ulmo uprooted an island that was in the middle of Belegaer, standing in the middle of the sea since the fall of the lamp Illuin. With the aid of his servants, he moved the island like a mighty ship to the east and anchored it in the Bay of Balar. Then the elven groups of the Vanyar and the Noldor went upon it and were drawn across the sea to Aman, where they came into the region of Valinor.[4]

The largest and latest group of the elves to depart, the Teleri, reached the shores of Beleriand at the Mouths of Sirion and dwelt there for many years. There they took Olwë to be their king. Then Ossë and Uinen came and befriended them, with Ossë teaching them much sea lore and sea music. Ever after, the Teleri would be accounted as the best singers and mariners among the Quendi.[4]

Across the sea in the west, Finwë, who had been great friends with the Teleri, besought Ulmo to bring his friends to Aman if they would come. Ulmo agreed and brought the offer to the Teleri, which they accepted. Ossë was grieved at their departure, and so convinced a group to stay behind that would become the Falathrim.[4]

The Teleri drew onto a great isle, which Ulmo dragged across the sea. Ossë followed Ulmo and when the isle reached the Bay of Eldamar, he called to the Teleri who heard his voice and begged Ulmo to stay their voyage. Ulmo, understanding the hearts of the Teleri, and having spoken against their summons at the councils of the Valar, granted their request, and with Ossë the two rooted the island to the foundations of the sea. The isle was ever after called Tol Eressëa, the lonely isle.[4]

Finwë and the Valar grieved to know the group would not now come to Aman. And the Teleri on the isle began to grow apart from the mainland, abiding under the stars of heaven with the sight of Aman in the distance.[4] This sundering led to the development of their own language, Telerin.[5]

The Valar wished still to the see the Lonely Isle, and so created a gap in the Pelóri called the Calacirya, and after the light of Aman reached the shores of Tol Eressëa and made the lands grow fertile and the waters around it shone in silver and gold. There on the isle, the first flowers east of the Pelóri grew.[4]

After the construction of the city of Tirion, and the gifting of the white tree of Galathilion to the Eldar by Yavanna, a seedling of Galathilion was given to the elves of Tol Eressëa, who planted it there and named it Celeborn. This tree would go on to later give the seedling Nimloth to the people of Númenor.[4]

After many years, the Teleri were torn for the love of the sea and their desire to see the light of Valinor and their sundered kindred again. Therefore, Ulmo sent Ossë to the Teleri. Ossë taught them how to build ships and gave them many strong winged swans which pulled the ships to Aman. Many came and saw the realm of Aman. Most sailed their ships near the shores and walked in the waves on the beaches.[4]

The Noldor gave them many gems of opal, pale diamond and crystal, which the Teleri scattered across the shores of Elendë. They build on the shores of Aman, the new city of Alqualondë. The Teleri found many pearls at sea which they brought to adorn their halls and the mansion of Olwë there. The city was lit with many lamps and filled with their ships they carved into the shape of swans. And the gate of the harbor was an arch of living rock carved by the sea.[4]

The end of the First Age

Near the ending of the First Age, after Beleriand had undergone many battles and much despair, and Morgoth had at last found and destroyed Gondolin, Eärendil the Mariner decided he should go to Valinor and ask the Valar for pity on the Edain and the Eldar in Beleriand. His wife Elwing, who had cast herself into the sea was borne up by Ulmo, and given wings, so that she may fly with the Silmaril that she possessed to Eärendil. Once she found him aboard his ship Vingilot, she fell into his arms, and he placed the Silmaril on his brow and sailed the ship toward Valinor with Elwing at his side. The light of the Silmaril grew greater as they neared Valinor and as they passed the isle of Tol Eressëa.[6]

After Eärendil spoke with the Valar, they gave him and Elwing the choice of mortality as a Man or immortality as an Elf. Both chose the life of an elf, and Eärendil went on his ship Vingilot through the Door of Night, to then sail the ship to and from across the skies. Elwing took again to her bird form and the elves of Tol Eressëa would watch her from afar flying to greet Vingilot.[6]

After the War of Wrath, many of the elves that dwelt in Beleriand came to live on Tol Eressëa, and they were soon forgiven by the Valar and Teleri alike for all the hurt they had done.[6]

The Second Age

Following Morgoth's defeat at the end of the First Age, the Second Age began,[7] and the Valar called the elves to return to the West.

Those that came went and dwelt in the isle of Tol Eressëa, and in its chief city Avallónë. The tower of Avallónë was the first sight a mariner beheld when journeying to the Undying Lands. Ossë raised Númenor from out of the depths of the ocean and gifted it to the Edain. The Eldar brought flowers and fountains from Tol Eressëa and gifted them to the Númenóreans.[8]

The Númenóreans spoke Elvish which, they had learned from both the elves of Middle-Earth and Tol Eressëa. The Númenóreans could see Tol Eressëa from their isle, and from there, the elves would visit Númenor in oarless boats shaped like white birds. The elves brought many gifts including: birds of song, fragrant flowers, and herbs of great virtue. The chief most of the gifts was a seedling from their white tree, Celeborn. The seedling would grow to be Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor.[8]

When the Númenóreans began to grow jealous of the lands of Aman and of the immortality of the west, the Eldar reported them to the Valar. Manwë sent them back as messengers to the men. The Eldar arrived at the Isle of Númenor during the reign of Tar-Atanamir. The Eldar tried to reason with them that the Eldar and the Edain were to have separate fates, but most of the men of Númenor would not listen and stopped welcoming death as part of their fate. The men drew into two groups thereafter: the King's Men, who grew apart from the teachings and trust of the Eldar, and the Elendili, the elf-friends who still trusted in their ways.[8]

As the years went on, the Númenóreans drew further into their dark days, forsaking more and more the guidance of the Eldar and the decrees of the Valar. During the reign of Ar-Gimilzôr, the White Tree was untended and the use of Elvish was forbade. Those that welcomed the ships of Eressëa were punished. The Valar grew angry with the Númenóreans and the ships from Eressëa never again visted Númenor.[8]

Even when Tar-Palantir took the scepter, and wished again for friendship with the elves, they did not come and Avallónë was veiled in cloud, out of his sight. Sauron deceived the twenty-fifth and final King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn into taking him as his hostage and later as an advisor.[8]

Sauron soon convinced Pharazôn to wage war against the Valar and defy the ban that was laid upon them, forbidding them from entering Aman. This led to the downfall of Númenor, where Ar-Pharazôn gathered a great fleet of ships and sailed to the coat of Aman. From Avallónë the Eldar watched and mourned for the sun that was cut off by the cloud of the Númenóreans.[8]

Manwë called upon Ilúvatar, who then opend a great chasm in the sea, into which all the faithless fleet sunk into alongside the entire island of Númenor. The lands of Aman and Tol Eressëa were drawn away from the reach of Men forever, into the realm of hidden things. Only nine ships of the Númenóreans escaped, carrying the Elendili, which went then to Middle-earth to establish their realms. Then only by those who were permitted could Aman and Eressëa be reached by way of the Straight Road, which was a secret road that passed through the atmosphere of Ilmen, and back down until it reached Eressëa and Aman again.[8]

The Third Age

After the downfall of Númenor, the surviving Elendili brought to Middle-Earth, their seven Palantíri which they were given by the elves to comfort them during the dark days, when the elves no longer came to Númenor. Three of the Palantíri were taken by Elendil, two by Isildur and two by Anárion. Elendil placed his in the tower Elostirion in Emyn Beraid, in Amon Sûl, and in the city of Annúminas. His sons set the others in Minas Ithil, Minas Anor, Orthanc and Osgiliath. Elendil would often look through the stone of Elostirion, seeing even as far as the Tower of Avallónë in Tol Eressëa, where the Master Stone resided.[9]


Many beautiful trees grew on Eressëa, and their seedlings were gifted by the Eldar to Númenor to enrich the land, such as oiolairë, lairelossë, nessamelda, vardarianna, taniquelassë, yavannamírë, and the mighty malinornë.[10]

Its flora also included flowers such as that of lissuin and elanor.[11]


Tol Eressëa is Quenya, from tol ("isle") + eressëa ("lonely").[12]

Other versions of the legendarium

In the early versions of Tolkien's legendarium, the island was later visited by Ælfwine (or Eriol), an Anglo-Saxon from the early Middle Ages, which provided a framework for the tales that later became The Silmarillion.

Most of The Book of Lost Tales Part One occurs on Tol Eressëa. The island played a significant role in those early conflicting and revised versions, as the homeland of the Noldorin exiles. From those stories, Christopher Tolkien provided a comparative summary of its story: After the war between the Eldar and the Enemy in the Great Lands (i.e. Middle-earth), Eressea is the destination for the exiled Noldoli who were rescued from the Great Lands, as some were not allowed to return to Valinor. The exiles built many towns and villages, and places such as Tavrobel, the central region of Alalminórë with the hill of Kôr where Ingil son of Inwe built Kortirion. The House of the Hundred Chimneys and the Cottage of Lost Play of Kortirion are also mentioned. These names do not exist in the later Silmarillion.

The island was visited by Ottor Wǽfre who, after learning the ancient history of the Elder Days went to visit Gilfanon in Tavrobel, where he wrote it down. He married an Elf and had a son named Heorrenda.

Tol Eressëa was drawn again east and anchored off the coasts of the Great Lands (at the geographical position of England), where the Lost Elves rose against the servants of Melko. When Osse attempted to drag the island back to the West, the western half broke off, forming the Isle of Iverin (Ireland).

After the defeat of the Elves in the battle of Ros, they hid in Tol Eressëa, but were followed by evil men, Orcs and other creatures. The great Battle of the Heath of the Sky-roof between Men near Tavrobel causes the Elves to flee over the Gruir and the Afros.

The Elves then faded, and most Men were now unable to see them. Eriol's sons, Hengest, Horsa, and Heorrenda, who were friendly to the Elves, conquered the island which became 'England'. From them the Angles have 'the true tradition of the fairies'. Hengest came to Kortirion (Warwick), Horsa to Taruithorn (Oxford) and Heorrenda to Tavrobel (Great Haywood).[13]

A Gnomish name used for Tol Eressëa was Dor Faidwen ("Land of Release").[14][15]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Three. The Later Quenta Silmarillion: (II) The Second Phase: The Valaquenta", pp. 199-200
  2. 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", p. 203
  3. 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", "The Conclusion of the Quenta Silmarillion", §33, p. 334
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of Eldamar and the Princes of the Eldalië"
  5. David Salo, A Gateway to Sindarin, "The History of Sindarin"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age", p. 1082
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "A Description of the Island of Númenor", p. 216
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", p. 243
  12. Paul Strack, "Q. Tol Eressëa loc.", Eldamo - An Elvish Lexicon (accessed 18 March 2024)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part Two, "VI. The History of Eriol or Ælfwine and the End of the Tales"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Book of Lost Tales Part One, "I. The Cottage of Lost Play", pp. 13, 21
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, "I-Lam na-Ngoldathon: The Grammar and Lexicon of the Gnomish Tongue", in Parma Eldalamberon XI (edited by Christopher Gilson, Arden R. Smith, and Patrick H. Wynne), pp. 5, 7