From Tolkien Gateway

Valacirca (Q. "Sickle of the Valar") was one of the constellations set in the heavens by Varda to enlighten the awakening of the Elves and gathered by Varda from among the ancient stars. It was seven stars set in the north as a challenge to Melkor.[1]

In T.A. 2941[2] when Bilbo Baggins came to the Long Lake (on the Wood-elves' raft) he noticed the Valacirca twinkling in the north above the entry of the River Running into the lake.[3]

On 29 September T.A. 3018[4] Frodo Baggins looked out of the window in the hobbits' room in Bree and saw the Valacirca bright above the shoulder of Bree-hill.[5]

Other names[edit | edit source]

Hobbits called it the Burning Briar (it was also referred to as the Wain in The Hobbit[3] and the Sickle in The Fellowship of the Ring[5]). The constellation is also known as the Plough, a name used in British English to refer to the seven brightest stars in Ursa Major,[6] known in American English as Big Dipper. It is unclear whether the Dwarvish constellation Durin's Crown, seen in the reflection of Mirrormere,[7] is the Valacirca.

Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

This constellation is the first to appear in the mythology that J.R.R. Tolkien began to develop in the 1910s, giving it the name Telpea Kalka ("Silvern Sickle").[8]

It is referred to as the "Silver Bear" in the 1915 poem Kortirion among the Trees[9] but was later amended to "Silver Wain" in a revision submitted to Rayner Unwin in 1962.[10]

In The Etymologies, the Q(u)enya names for the constellation were Valakirka ("Sickle of the Gods") and Otselen ("Seven Stars"), with the Noldorin cognates Cerch iMbelain and Edegil respectively.[11]

In the earliest map that Tolkien made for The Hobbit (referred to as Fimbulfambi's map by John D. Rateliff in The History of The Hobbit) the compass rose used a tiny diagram of the Valacirca to indicate "North".[12]

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Valacirca is identified as the Big Dipper.[13]


Middle-earth Cosmology
 Constellations  Anarríma · Durin's Crown · Menelmacar · Remmirath · Soronúmë · Telumendil · Valacirca · Wilwarin
Stars  Alcarinquë · Borgil · Carnil · Elemmírë · Helluin · Luinil · Lumbar · Morwinyon · Nénar · Star of Eärendil · Til 
The Airs  Aiwenórë · Fanyamar · Ilmen · Menel · Vaiya · Veil of Arda · Vista
Narsilion  Arien · Moon (Isil, Ithil, Rána) · Sun (Anar, Anor, Vása) · Tilion
See also  Abyss · Arda · Circles of the World · · Timeless Halls · Two Lamps · Two Trees · Void