Valian Years

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History of Arda
Before the Creation
Before the Ages
Days before days
Years of the Trees (up to Y.T. 1050)
Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar
First Age (begins in Y.T. 1050
and overlaps with the Years of the Trees
up to Y.T. 1500
- Years of the Sun begin in F.A. 1
Second Age
- Arda made round in S.A. 3319
Third Age
Fourth Age
Later Ages (up to present day)
End of Arda
Timeline of Arda
(See: Round World version of the Silmarillion
for a later conception of Tolkien's cosmology)

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[edit | edit source]

"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
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Other versions of the legendarium[edit | edit source]

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.


  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