Sea of Helcar

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Inland Sea refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Inland Sea (disambiguation).
Sea of Helcar
Inland Sea
"Cuiviénen" by Mark Fisher
General Information
Other namesSea of Helkar
LocationNorth-central Middle-earth, north of the Sea of Ringil and close to the western side of the Orocarni
TypeInland Sea
RegionsCuiviénen, Wild Wood
CreatedWhen Melkor cast down the Lamp atop Illuin
EventsGreat Journey

The Sea of Helcar (also spelled Helkar) was a great lake or inland sea which existed in the central region of northern Middle-earth during the Years of the Trees.[1]


In the beginning of Arda, the Valar created the Two Lamps and two great towers on which to place them. Melkor destroyed the Two Lamps, and where Illuin (the northern tower) had stood, the inland Sea of Helcar was formed. Many rivers flowed into the Sea of Helcar from the east. Cuiviénen, where the first Elves awoke, was a bay on the eastern side of the Sea of Helcar, and it lay under the shadows of the Orocarni (Red Mountains). During the Great Journey, the Elves travelled north around the Sea of Helcar before turning westward.[1] After this, the Sea of Helcar passed out of history.

Other versions of the legendarium

In the Ambarkanta, the Sea of Helcar was depicted as an enormous body of water that stretched from the Red Mountains in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west.[2] After Middle-earth's landscape changed in the Battle of the Powers, the western end of the Sea was depicted as being separated from the Great Gulf only by a narrow strip of mountainous land called the Straits of the World.[3] However, these early depictions predate Tolkien's conception of the wide lands of Eriador, Gondor, and Mordor that lay east of the Great Gulf.

Christopher Tolkien questioned whether or not the Sea of Rhûn could " identified with the Sea of Helkar, vastly shrunken". [4] In The Atlas of Middle-earth, Karen Wynn Fonstad assumed that Mordor, Khand, and parts of Rhûn in the Second and Third Ages lay where the Sea of Helcar had been in the First Age, and that the Sea of Rhûn and Sea of Núrnen were its remnants. However, in The Peoples of Middle-earth (which was published after Fontstad's Atlas), there are references to the Sea of Rhûn and its surrounding geographical landmarks existing as far back as the Years of the Trees at the time of the Great Journey,[5] and Melkor was said to have created Mount Doom in Mordor during the "long First Age".[6] Additionally, it is told in Unfinished Tales that the migration of the Drúedain from Hildórien brought them westward through lands south of Mordor.[7] In The Nature of Middle-earth, Cuiviénen (located on the eastern shores of the Sea of Helcar) is roughly at 200 miles from the Sea of Rhûn[8], or in a more detailed annalistic text on the March of the Quendi Cuiviénen is at around 450 miles eastward from the Sea of Rhûn[9].

See also