Valian Years

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History of Arda
Music of the Ainur
Timeline of Arda
Days before days
Years of the Trees
Years of the Sun
Ages of Middle-earth
First Age (Y.T. 1050 - Y.S. 590)
Second Age (S.A. 1 - 3441)
Third Age (T.A. 1 - 3021)
Fourth Age (Fo.A. 1 - ????)
Later Ages (up to present day)
Dagor Dagorath
Round World version
of The Silmarillion

A Valian year is a reference to the passage of time in Arda, after the arrival of the Ainur in it and before the Two Trees of Valinor were destroyed by Melkor and Ungoliant. Valian Years finally ended with the first rising of the Sun towards the end of the First Age.

History

"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
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Other versions of the legendarium

Unlike other reckonings of time created by J.R.R. Tolkien to set his legendarium, the Valian Years did not have a complete and definitive form. In the 1930s and 1940s, Tolkien handled a length of the Valian year fluctuated slightly around a round number of 10 solar years. In the notes to The Annals of Aman, Tolkien stated a single Valian year lasts 1,000 Valian days, defined as the duration of a complete flowering of the Two Trees of Valinor. Each of these Valian days is divided into 12 Valian hours, with each Valian hour having a duration equivalent to 7 solar hours. Thus, a single Valian year would last 84,000 solar hours. As a single solar year is approximately 8,766 hours, it was easy to calculate the equivalence of 9.582 solar years for each Valian year.[1]

However, in the 1950s , J.R.R. Tolkien decided to use a much larger measurement, 144 solar years for each Valian year, and included this concept in his Appendices to The Lord of the Rings as the duration of yén, or Elvish "great year"".[2]

If this new duration were applied to the earlier works, they would extend the time line dramatically: the duration of the Flight of the Noldor, which was 5 Valian Years, went from signifying around 50 solar years to being converted in about 700 solar years. So the new definition should be understood as belonging to a new conception that is completely different from the previous one, and therefore not applicable to the dates noted in previous drafts of Tolkien's writings. Other authors are of the opinion that Tolkien describes time as flowing more slowly in Aman, such that a Valian year would "feel" like the passage of a single solar year, despite having a much longer "real" duration.

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part Two. The Annals of Aman: First section of the Annals of Aman", p. 59
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix D, "The Calendars", p. 1107