Sea of Rhûn
|Sea of Rhûn|
|Sea of Rhûn from Stephen Raw's Map of Middle-earth|
|Other names||Sea of Rhûnaer|
The Sea of Rhûn or Inland Sea was a large lake or sea in northern Middle-earth that lay east of Rhovanion on the western borders of Rhûn. The Kine of Araw were found in the fields of Rhûn near the Inland Sea.
In the Years of the Trees during the time of the Great Journey, the Eldar reached the Sea of Rhûn after marching 450 miles west or northwest from Cuiviénen. The craft of ship-making practised by the Teleri reached new heights in their efforts to traverse the Sea of Rhûn on their westward journey.
In the First Age, the shores of the Inland Sea were populated by tribes of Men who were migrating to the West. The Lesser Folk arrived there first and dwelt at the feet of the nearby hills. The Greater Folk came later in the north-east woods near the shores. The Men crafted boats and could sail the sea, but they did not meet often, and their languages soon diverged before they resumed their journey to Beleriand.
In the early Third Age, the Kings of Gondor such as Rómendacil I campaigned to those lands, and Turambar expanded the kingdom to the East. By the time of King Hyarmendacil I, the Inland Sea formed one of the boundaries of Gondor.
Other versions of the legendarium
In the drafts for the Lord of the Rings, the sea was called the Sea of Rhûnaer. In the earlier maps, part of the Sea was more clearly occupied by a heavily wooded island. In the published maps by Christopher Tolkien, the island is represented by a dotted pattern. The reason for this change and what it signifies was never specified by C. Tolkien. There is no trace of the unnamed island in Pauline Baynes's A Map of Middle-earth.
In a 1948 note on his General Map of Middle-earth, Tolkien drew an arrow from the River Running with the direction to the end of the map, and carries the note: "To Sea of Rûnaer. Hammond and Scull suggest that Rûnaer is likely an alternative name of Rhûn.
Also in these early draft of the maps for The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien indicated that Neldoreth was the name of the forest bordering the Sea of Rhûn's north-eastern shore. This forest went unnamed in later maps.
Christopher Tolkien once questioned whether the Sea of Rhûn could "...be identified with the Sea of Helcar, vastly shrunken". Karen Wynn Fonstad adopted this position in making The Atlas of Middle-earth. However, in The Peoples of Middle-earth and The Nature of Middle-earth, which were published after Fonstad's Atlas, the Sea of Rhûn and its surrounding geographical landmarks exist as far back as the Years of the Trees at the time of the Great Journey, hundreds of miles west of where the Elves awoke near the Sea of Helcar.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, "Unfinished index for The Lord of the Rings", in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 522
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Minas Tirith"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "The Realms in Exile", "The Southern Line: Heirs of Anarion"
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, the scale of the General Map of Middle-earth is so small, that the symbols for the trees on the island only appear like dots, p. 691
- On The First Map of The Lord of the Rings the forest on the northeastern corner of the Sea of Rûn, which was called Rhûnaer on that map has a green colour and the island in the east of the Rhûnaer has the same green colour
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Map II", Map II, The island in the Sea is coloured green on the First Map, and is marked as wooded on the 1943 Map, p. 307
- 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
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings" pp. 391-392
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XII. The Problem of Ros"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix E, "Writing", "The Fëanorian Letters"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Treason of Isengard, "XV. The First Map of The Lord of the Rings", "Map II", Map II, p. 307
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Sauron Defeated, "Part One: The End of the Third Age: VII. Many Partings", p. 65. Cf. note 9
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age" [map]
- Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 199
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, "Part Two. The Later Quenta Silmarillion" p. 174.