From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about the Mannish realm of the Second Age. For the island where it was located, see Elenna.
John Howe - Numenor.png
General information
PronunciationQ, [ˈnuːmenor]
Other namesWesternesse
Númenórë, Andor, Elenna (Q)
Anadûnê, Yôzâyan (A)
LocationIn Belegaer, between Middle-earth and Aman
Major townsAndúnië, Eldalondë, Rómenna, Ondosto, Nindamos
RegionsForostar, Andustar, Hyarnustar, Hyarrostar, Orrostar, Mittalmar, Emerië, Nísimaldar
PopulationPrimarily Númenóreans (Few Drúedain briefly lived on the island)
LanguageAdûnaic, Númenórean Sindarin, Quenya
Council of the Sceptre
HolidayThree Prayers:
Erukyermë, Erulaitalë, Eruhantalë
FoundedS.A. 32
DestroyedS.A. 3319
Followed byRealms in Exile
GalleryImages of Númenor
"The Edain came at last over leagues of sea and saw afar the land that was prepared for them, Andor, the Land of Gift, shimmering in a golden haze. Then they went up out of the sea and found a country fair and fruitful, and they were glad."

Númenor or Númenórë, known in the Common Speech as Westernesse and in Adûnaic as Anadûnê, was one of the names of the isle of Elenna, which was raised from the Great Sea by the Valar at the beginning of the Second Age. While strictly speaking the term Númenor referred to the realm established on the island, it was more often used as a synonym for the land itself. Númenor was one of the most powerful realms of the Second Age, and its people, called Númenóreans, as well as their descendants, had considerable influence on the events of the Third Age.


Main article: Elenna

The island of Númenor had a shape of a 5-point star, each point having its own unique geological and physical features: Forostar, Andustar, Hyarnustar, Hyarrostar and Orrostar.

The central region was named Mittalmar, and in its centre stood the holy mountain Meneltarma.

Númenor had only two rivers: Siril and Nunduinë.

Cities built by the Númenóreans were Armenelos, Andúnië, Nindamos, Eldalondë and Almaida.



The Land of Gift by Jef Murray
See also: Númenóreans#Origins

Númenor was the kingdom of the Dúnedain, located on an island in the Great Sea, between Middle-earth and Aman. The land was brought up from the sea by Ulmo as a gift to the Edain for their part in the war against Morgoth.[1] It was also called Elenna ("Starwards") because the Edain were led to it by the Star of Eärendil, and because the island was in the shape of a five-pointed star. The first ships of the Edain arrived at the island in S.A. 32. Elros son of Eärendil was the first King of Númenor, taking the name of Tar-Minyatur ("First King").[2] The majority of the Edain gradually migrated to the island in the next fifty years[3] and the Drúedain refugees who dwelt at the Mouths of Sirion before the sinking of Beleriand were permitted to join them.[4]

The Elves of Tol Eressëa visited the island and brought many gifts, such as birds and plants, and shared their lore and skills with the Men. The descendants of the Edain rose to become a powerful race of Men, the Númenóreans.[1]

Return to Middle-earth[edit]

The Númenóreans were forbidden by the Valar from sailing so far westward that Númenor was no longer visible, for fear that they would come upon the Undying Lands, from which Men were barred. They tried to compensate for this by going eastward and they reached the shores of Middle-earth in S.A. 600.[2] They sailed through the Gulf of Lhûn and arrived in Lindon, where they were welcomed by Gil-galad, and an alliance between Númenor and the Elves of Lindon was formed.[5] The Númenóreans made contact with the Men of Eriador teaching them several crafts. They instructed them and helped free them from the Shadow which they have been under for centuries.[1]

In S.A. 750 the Guild of Venturers was established by Aldarion, son of the king Tar-Meneldur, to facilitate the growing interest in seafaring in Númenor.[6] Aldarion built the haven Vinyalondë, situated in the mouth of the river Gwathló in between great forests in the north and south. The native people of Minhiriath and Enedwaith tolerated the Númenórean presence in the area until they began cutting the trees for timber, and hostility grew between the two peoples.[7]

War with Sauron[edit]

See also: War of the Elves and Sauron

In S.A. 882 Tar-Meneldur received a letter from Gil-galad warning of a new shadow rising in the East, declaring that a servant of Morgoth was behind it and asking for aid to defend Eriador when the time came. Tar-Meneldur was disturbed by this letter and in his wisdom resigned the Sceptre to his son, knowing that he had the better understanding of what was transpiring in the Great Lands due to the many years he spent abroad.[8] Tar-Aldarion returned to Middle-earth in earnest to continue his work and Númenor began preparation for war.[9]

About S.A. 1200, Númenóreans began establishing permanent settlements in Middle-earth.[2] These settlements were later attacked by raiders sent from Sauron as he drew closer to invading Eriador, although they were unable to destroy the havens and forts and their assaults consisted of disrupting their lumber industry.[7]

In S.A. 1695, Sauron launched his invasion of Eriador[2] and Gil-galad sent word to Númenor for aid. Tar-Minastir sent a great navy, but was delayed and only reached the coasts of Middle-earth in S.A. 1700, by which time Eriador was mostly ruined. The Númenóreans and Elves defeated the forces of Sauron in the Battle of the Gwathló. Sauron was driven out of Eriador and there was peace in the Westlands.[9]

Shadow over Númenor[edit]

Númenor by Tolrone

The might of Númenor was revealed during the War of the Elves and Sauron and soon the Númenóreans became too proud and desired more wealth and power. About S.A. 1800 they established dominions on the shores of Middle-earth, becoming a brutal maritime empire that had no rival.[2] They demanded tribute from the lesser peoples which they had liberated and taught and were now oppressed.

In Númenor there was growing discontent about the Ban of the Valar, questioning the Gift of Men and becoming envious of the immortality of the Eldar. They longed for Eldamar, which they saw only from a distance.[10] Fearing death, they tried to gain some immortality in riches and ornate tombs. This occurred during the reigns of Tar-Ciryatan and his son Tar-Atanamir, it was the latter that started to speak openly against the Valar and many Númenóreans followed his teachings.[11]


In S.A. 2251, during the reign of Tar-Ancalimon, the Men of Númenor were split into two factions. The larger following was called the King's Men, and they followed the king and abandoned the Elven customs and languages. The other was the Faithful, who remained loyal to the Valar and friendly towards the Elves.[10]

The King's Men fortified Umbar in S.A. 2280 and from there they began to dominate Harad and extend their dominions in the south. Even Sauron was afraid of them and retreated from those lands. The Faithful built Pelargir in S.A. 2350 and used it as their chief haven.[2]

In S.A. 2899 Ar-Adûnakhôr took the Sceptre[2] and became the first king to choose an Adûnaic title and not one in Quenya.[11] During his reign the Faithful were persecuted and the Elven-tongue was no longer used or taught in Númenor. Elves seldom sailed to the island now, except in secret.

The Faithful remained in Andúnië, and the Faithful Lords of Andúnië, because of their noble heritage, still had some gravity in the meetings of nobles. However, in the 32nd century, Ar-Gimilzôr forced them to relocate to Rómenna, and the haven was closed to the Elven visitors. Many of them would decamp to Middle-earth to remain among the Eldar.[1]

Civil War[edit]

The Eagles of the lords of the Valar by Matěj Čadil

Under the reign of Tar-Palantir, he briefly attempted to cast the Shadow back and reunite the people with the Elves and the Valar, but was unable to appease the Valar during his lifetime and no ship came ever again from the west. The Faithful for some time had peace on the island, but the policies of the king were met with opposition by his brother Gimilkhâd, who took leadership of the King's Men. Tar-Palantir prophesied that when the White Tree died the line of Kings would perish also.[11]

Gimilkhâd had a son, Pharazôn, who was a mighty Númenórean lord spending many years abroad fighting in wars seeking to extend the dominion of Númenor in Middle-earth and was a renowned captain on land and sea.[1] After hearing the news of his father's death in S.A. 3243, Pharazôn returned to Númenor, took leadership of the King's Men, and led a rebellion against his uncle Tar-Palantir.[2]

When Tar-Palantir died, he had no male heir, only a daughter Tar-Míriel. She was posed to succeed her father, but Pharazôn usurped the Sceptre and forced her into marriage against her will and against the laws of Númenor, which prohibited first cousins from marrying. He proclaimed himself Ar-Pharazôn the Golden and changed the name of Míriel to Ar-Zimraphel.[1]


In S.A. 3261, Ar-Pharazôn sailed to Middle-earth to defeat a resurgent Sauron. Seeing the might of Númenor, Sauron submitted to the king's authority, and he was brought back to Númenor as a hostage. By that time, however, the Drúedain of Númenor had sensed a coming darkness and all of them had abandoned the island for Middle-earth.[4] Sauron soon became an adviser to the King as Tar-Mairon, and promised the Númenóreans eternal life if they worshipped Melkor. Under the counsel of Sauron the Númenóreans became even more warlike, hunting the Men of Middle-earth and enslaving them. Ar-Pharazôn had a five hundred foot temple to Melkor erected, in which the enslaved Men were sacrificed.[1]

During this time, the white tree Nimloth the Fair, whose fate was said to be tied to the line of kings, was chopped down and burned as a sacrifice to Melkor. Risking his life, Isildur rescued a fruit of the tree, preserving the ancient line of trees.[1]


The Ships of the Faithful by Ted Nasmith
Main article: Downfall of Númenor

Prompted by Sauron and fearing death and old age, Ar-Pharazôn built a great armada to make war upon the Valar and seize the Undying Lands. The Valar displayed warnings to the Men of Westernesse in the form of clouds shaped like huge eagles, but they paid no heed to these manifestations.[1] In S.A. 3319 Ar-Pharazôn landed on the shores of Aman.[2]

Fearing that the Númenorean army could wreak havoc in Valinor,[12] but forbidden from killing or otherwise using force against Men,[13][14] the Valar called upon Ilúvatar for assistance. He broke and changed the world, taking Aman and Tol Eressëa from the world forever, and changing the world's shape from flat to round. The massive fleet was consumed when Ilúvatar opened up a chasm in the sea. Númenor, likewise, was covered by great waves and sank into the abyss, killing its inhabitants, including the body of Sauron who remained behind and now was robbed of his ability to assume fair and charming forms.[1]

Elendil, son of the leader of the Faithful during the reign of Ar-Pharazôn, his sons and his followers had foreseen the disaster that was to befall Númenor, and they had set sail in nine ships before the island fell. They landed in Middle-earth, gathered the Númenórean and indigenous peoples living there, and founded the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.[1]

After its fall Númenor was called Atalantë, meaning "the Downfallen", in the Quenya language. Other names after the Downfall include Mar-nu-Falmar ("Land under the Waves") and Akallabêth ("the Downfallen" in Adûnaic).

The story of the rise and downfall of Númenor is told in The Akallabêth.


Númenor was a monarchy. The King held the power of decision over the affairs of the state. However, there was an advisory body, the Council of the Sceptre, which consisted of the Heir of the King and lords from the six regions of Númenor: Forostar (Northlands), Andustar (Westlands), Hyarnustar (Southwestlands), Hyarrostar (Southeastlands), Orrostar (Eastlands) and Mittalmar (Inlands).

There were two main political parties: Elendili, the Faithful, led by the Lords of Andúnië, always loyal to the Elves. In the later years, they were a small group, oppressed by the opposing King's Men who rebelled against the Valar and their ban and set dominions among the Men of Middle-earth and laid heavy tribute upon them. As their number and power increased, the King's Men forced the Elendili to move from Andúnië to the eastern side of the island, at Rómenna. Pelargir was a harbour built where the river Sirith met Anduin and it was founded by the Faithful in S.A. 2350.

Respected as a law was the Ban of the Valar, which stated that Númenóreans should never sail West more than the limit of their sight when looking after their shores. As the fear of death filled more and more the hearts of the Númenóreans, they sailed further away from the island, until finally the last king, Ar-Pharazôn, broke the Ban in his attempt to reach Tol Eressëa out of the false belief that dwelling in that place granted immortality.


Main article: Line of Elros

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros had the right to inherit the Sceptre and thus become Rulers of Númenor. 25 Kings and Queens, descendants of Elros, ascended the throne. While the Númenóreans lived around 200 years, royal kindred had a double life span.

Of great importance was the Law of Succession in Númenor which established the heir to the throne. It started as an inherited custom, which gave exclusive rights to the male descendants of Elros. Tar-Aldarion, the sixth ruler of Númenor, only had one daughter and replaced the principle of exclusive male heir with that of eldest progeny, of any gender; in S.A. 1075 Tar-Ancalimë became the first ruling queen in the history of Númenor.

Númenóreans from the Line of Elros influenced their era in various ways:

Lords of Andúnië[edit]

Main article: Lords of Andúnië

During the time of princess Silmariën, the law of agnatic primogeniture existed. She could not succeed her father as his eldest child, and her brother took up the Sceptre. In her honour was created the title "Lords of Andúnië", which was set upon her first son, Valandil, and his 18 descendants; the last one was Amandil, father of Elendil. During the dark times of Númenor, the Lords were renowned for their friendship with the Eldar, and leaders of the Elendili. The Númenóreans were extremely skilled in arts and craft, with the forging of weapons and armour; although they were a peaceful people, their weapons, armour, and horse-riding skills could not be contested anywhere else in Arda, save by the Valar. But the Númenóreans were not warmongers; hence, the chief art on the island became that of ship-building and sea-craft. The Númenóreans became great mariners, exploring the world in all directions save for the west, where the Ban of the Valar was in force. They often travelled to the shores of Middle-earth, teaching the men there the art and craft, and introducing farming in order to improve their everyday lives.


A Royal Wedding in Númenor by Matěj Čadil
Main article: Númenóreans

The fleet of Elros initially brought probably between 5,000 to 10,000 Edain to Númenor. After a migration period that lasted at least 50 years, between 200,000 and 350,000 Edain had emigrated to Númenor. After a thousand years the population seemed to have slightly exceeded 2 million people. The population may have reached 15 million people before the Downfall of Númenor.[15]

The population of Númenor chiefly consisted of Edain, mostly descendants from the House of Hador; however, before the Shadow fell on the island, the westernmost cities such as Andúnië contained a small population of Elves because of the frequent visits from Tol Eressëa. They were known as the Númenóreans, or rather, Kings among Men.

There were also a small number of Drúedain living in Númenor, who, considered to be Edain, accompanied their friends of the House of Haleth to Númenor. They were few in number and dreaded the sea. They became uneasy when Tar-Aldarion started his great travels and urged him not to go, seeing the mischief to come. They did not succeed in deterring him, and one after another they took ships towards Middle-earth, saying that, "the Great Isle no longer feels sure under our feet, and we wish to return to the lands whence we came". The last of them left when Sauron was brought to Númenor.


Númenor is a shortened form of the Quenya name Númenórë, which can be translated as 'Westernesse' or 'Westland'.[16] The name is a compound of nūme-n "going down" (from the root √ndū, nū), sunset, West, and nōre "land, country".[17][18]

Other names[edit]

The land most commonly referred to as Númenor (Westernesse, Westland) had a variety of other names:[19]

and after its downfall:


Númenor is the retelling of the Atlantis mythos in Tolkien's legendarium. Notably, he referred to a recurring "Atlantis dream" he had. The connection is more evident in the name Atalantë, another epithet of the Island which in Quenya means "the downfallen" (note that in Greek, Atlantis is related to Atlas; therefore Atalantë has no direct connection. In fact, Tolkien, upon realising the similarity, described it as a "happy coincidence").

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher, recounted the story of Atlantis. According to him, Atlantis was in the middle of the ocean in the West (cf. Great Sea), its people were more advanced than those of the known world (cf. Kings of Men) but were corrupted by arrogance; the continent was destroyed by the gods and survivors created colonies, as in Egypt (cf. Realms in Exile). Also according to Plato, the centre of Atlantis was occupied by a high mountain-palace (cf. Meneltarma) around which a city of three circles was built, quite different from the star-shaped island of Númenor. Another element with both common and different points between the two stories is that Númenor sank when the fleet was attacking the West, while Atlantis sank during a sea-battle with the Athenians in the east.

Some parts of Númenor's history seem to have been inspired not only by Plato but also by researchers and occultists whose theories were widespread during Tolkien's time.

Ignatius Loyola Donnelly and Edgar Cayce were the most famous authors regarding Atlantis and mentioned events and concepts that Plato never did. One of those "original" elements told by modern authors and mystics was a civil war between two factions of Atlanteans (good and evil)[20] which is similar to the persecution of the Elf-friends by the King's Men.

According to those theories, remnants of Atlantean civilization survived by colonists or survivors in Egypt (and in Pre-Columbian America), which mirrors the Realms in Exile founded by the Faithful; furthermore Tolkien once equated the Gondorians with the Egyptian civilization.[21]

Uses outside the legendarium[edit]

C.S. Lewis' novel That Hideous Strength makes reference to "Numinor [sic] and the True West", which Lewis credits as a then-unpublished creation of J.R.R. Tolkien. This is one of many examples of cross-overs between the novels of Lewis and Tolkien, both of whom were members of the Inklings, a literary discussion group at Oxford University.

The world of Charn from Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series bears some similarities with Númenor: both Númenor and Charn were initially ruled by wise and benevolent rulers who later became corrupted, cruel and evil, culminating with their respective final rulers (Ar-Pharazôn for Númenor; the White Witch Jadis for Charn) causing the destruction of both realms.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Second Age"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "V. The History of the Akallabêth", §5
  4. 4.0 4.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Drúedain"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", Note 3
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife", Notes, Chronology
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Appendix D: The Port of Lond Daer"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife"
  9. 9.0 9.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Númenor"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 131, (undated, written late 1951)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 156, (dated 4 November 1954)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Four. Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth: Glossary", p. 350
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien, Carl F. Hostetter (ed.), The Nature of Middle-earth, "Part Three. The World, its Lands, and its Inhabitants: XIII. Of the Land and Beasts of Númenor", p. 339
  16. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 227, (dated 5 January 1961)
  18. Carl F. Hostetter, "Holograph MS of Letter 227, correcting published etymology of "Númenor" (#1144)" dated 15 December 2013, Lambengolmor mailing list (accessed 13 June 2022)
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Index of Names"
  20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_race#The_civilization_of_Atlantis
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 211, (dated 14 October 1958)
Andor · Atalantë · Elenna · Mar-nu-Falmar · Númenórë · Westernesse
Regions Andustar · Arandor · Emerië · Forostar · Hyarastorni · Hyarnustar · Hyarrostar · Mittalmar · Nísimaldar · Orrostar
Towns and cities Almaida · Andúnië · Armenelos · Eldalondë · Nindamos · Ondosto · Rómenna
Buildings Calmindon · Eämbar · King's Court · Temple · White House of Erendis
Natural features Bay of Eldanna · Bay of Rómenna · Firth of Rómenna · Hallow of Eru · Meneltarma (mountain) · Nísinen (lake) · North Cape · Nunduinë (river) · Oromet (mountain) · Siril (river) · Sorontil (mountain) · Tarmasundar (ridges) · Tompollë
Plants and trees Fragrant Trees · Lairelossë · Laurinquë · Lavaralda · Nessamelda · Nimloth · Oiolairë · Taniquelassë · Vardarianna · Yavannamírë
Heirlooms Aranrúth · Bow of Bregor · Dramborleg · Elendilmir · Narsil · Palantíri · Ring of Barahir · Sceptre of Annúminas · Sceptre of Númenor · Tile and Textiles · Helmet
Concepts Adûnaic · Ban of the Valar · Council of the Sceptre · Downfall of Númenor · Great Bear-dance · Heirship · Númenórean Sindarin · Three Prayers (Eruhantalë · Erukyermë · Erulaitalë)
Key people Aldarion · Amandil · Captain of the King's Ships · Elros (House of Elros) · Erendis · Faithful · Great Armament · Guild of Venturers · Guild of Weaponsmiths · Isildur · Kings and Queens of Númenor · King's Archers · King's Men · Lords of Andúnië · Meneldur · Miriel · Palantir · Pharazôn · Sauron · Silmariën
Main texts The Silmarillion ("Akallabêth") · Unfinished Tales ("A Description of the Island of Númenor" · "Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner's Wife" · "The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor") · The Lord of the Rings ("Appendix A" · "Appendix B") · The Nature of Middle-earth ("Lives of the Númenóreans" · "Of the land and beasts of Númenor")
Kings of Númenor
Elros Tar-Minyatur (S.A. 32 - 442) · Tar-Vardamir* (442) · Tar-Amandil (442 - 590) · Tar-Elendil (590 - 740) · Tar-Meneldur (740 - 883) · Tar-Aldarion (883 - 1075) · Tar-AncalimëQ (1075 - 1280) · Tar-Anárion (1280 - 1394) · Tar-Súrion (1394 - 1556) · Tar-TelperiënQ (1556 - 1731) · Tar-Minastir (1731 - 1869) · Tar-Ciryatan (1869 - 2029) · Tar-Atanamir (2029 - 2221) · Tar-Ancalimon (2221 - 2386) · Tar-Telemmaitë (2386 - 2526) · Tar-VanimeldëQ (2526 - 2637) · Tar-Anducal (2637 - 2657) · Tar-Alcarin (2657 - 2737) · Tar-Calmacil (2737 - 2825) · Tar-Ardamin (2825 - 2899) · Ar-Adûnakhôr (2899 - 2962) · Ar-Zimrathôn (2962 - 3033) · Ar-Sakalthôr (3033 - 3102) · Ar-Gimilzôr (3102 - 3177) · Tar-Palantir (3177 - 3255) · Ar-Pharazôn (3255 - 3319)
* Immediately abdicated in favour of his son · Q Ruling Queens · Usurped throne. Later struck off the Line of Kings · Usurped throne from his cousin Tar-Míriel