The BBC reports that a commemorative plaque has been installed at the former Gedling Railway Station in Nottinghamshire to honour a visit by J.R.R. Tolkien in 1914 during which he wrote the first draft of a poem called The Voyage of Éarendel the Evening Star.

This poem, which can be found in the second volume of The History of Middle-earth, forms Tolkien’s earliest writings on the subject of Eärendil the mariner. He then later incorporated those ideas into his growing mythology.

The JRR Tolkien plaque before mounting at the former Gedling Railway Station. Source: Andy Owens

Local Gedling resident Paul Farrell said to the BBC that he thought the station setting was apt as it was “the start of Tolkien’s journey”.

In one of his letters, Tolkien wrote that he had been inspired by inspired by a line from the Crist of Cynewulf.

I wrote a ‘poem’ upon Earendel who launched his ship like a bright spark from the havens of the Sun. I adopted him into my mythology – in which he became a prime figure as a mariner, and eventually as a herald star, and a sign of hope to men. Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima (II 329) ‘hail Earendil brightest of Stars’ is derived at long remove from Éala Éarendel engla beorhtast.

Letter #297, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

“I thought let’s do something for the old railway station,” Mr Farrell said. “It’s a fascinating link between the village and one of our most creative writers.”

Blue plaques are often used as a way to honour a link between a location and a famous person or event in the United Kingdom.

Read the full story on the BBC.

Minas Tirith

At the outset of the Second Age all of the peoples of Middle-earth had to start over, after their kingdoms and homes were lost in the destruction of Beleriand. Entire rivers, coastlines and regions were gone forever. Moreover, most of the great leaders of Elves and Men perished or left Middle-earth during the First Age. Fingolfin, Fingon, Beren, Lúthien, Húrin and Eärendil were all gone. The ‘baddies’ also lost many of their greats, including Morgoth, Gothmog, and most of the Balrogs and dragons.

Those filling the void of leaders and heroes in the Second Age included Elrond and his brother Elros, Celebrimbor the Elven smith, Gil-Galad, now High King of the Noldor, and Númenorean faithful, Elendil. On the side of evil, any remaining Balrogs and dragons had gone into hiding, so that particular void was primarily filled by Sauron and his legions of orcs and corrupted men. Sauron’s forging of the One Ring in the Second Age and his powers of persuasion also managed to blur the lines of good and evil that were so easily delineated during the First Age. The One Ring’s power over lesser rings to turn once good and noble men to evil, and Sauron’s powers of persuasion, corrupted Elves, men and Kings of men.

Suffice it to say that the events of the Second Age are no less dramatic and compelling than those of the First Age. So, with that let’s delve into 16 of the most important events of the Second Age of Middle-earth, shall we?

Elros & the Edain reach Númenor (SA 32): Given the choice of the halfelven by the Valar, Elros chose to be counted among the race of Men. As such, he led the Edain (Men) to the island of Elenna, a gift of the Valar for the help the Edain provided to defeat Morgoth in the First Age. The Valar wanted to provide a special place for the Edain separate from Middle-earth and closer to Valinor, though the Edain were strictly prohibited from going far enough west that they lose sight of Elenna. The name of the realm Elros founded, which became synonymous with the name of the island, was Númenor. As king, Elros took the Quenya name of Tar-Minuyatur setting a tradition for all the kings of Númenor to follow.

Migration of dwarves to Moria & Khazad-dûm (c. SA 40): Moria’s origins began prior to the First Age when Durin awoke. Looking into the lake of Kheled-zâram, he saw a crown of stars reflected in its waters and took it as a sign to stay. In the caves above the lake, Durin and his folk delved from the east side of the Misty Mountains eventually reaching the west side, and Moria became one of the greatest strongholds of the Dwarves. Unique among its natural resources was the rare metal Mithril. After the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age, many Dwarves migrated to Moria, making it possible to mine more Mithril, and making the caverns even greater and more beautiful.

Moria

Sauron builds Barad-dûr in Mordor (c. SA 1000): Sauron, originally a Maia of Valinor, was among the servants of Morgoth who escaped the wrath of the Valar and the destruction of Beleriand. Thinking that the Valar had once again forgotten Middle-earth, he began ensnaring Men and orcs alike to his service. Alarmed by the growing power of the Númenorean visitors to Middle-earth, he decided to hedge his bets and construct his own fortress. To that end, he constructed the fortress of Barad-dûr near Mount Doom in the land of Mordor. To complete it, Sauron eventually used the power of the One Ring, making it impregnable as long as the One Ring existed.

Celebrimbor crafts the Rings of Power (c. SA 1500): Celebrimbor, a grandson of Fëanor, founded the realm of Eregion on the west side of the Misty Mountains around SA 750. Its proximity to Moria was no accident, as the Elves were drawn by the availability of Mithril, and they traded freely with the Dwarves of Moria. Around SA 1200, Sauron began visiting Eregion in fair form under the name of Annatar, ‘Lord of Gifts.’ Imparting some of his knowledge of magic, he assisted Celebrimbor’s smiths in creating a number of rings of power.

The Three Elven Rings are completed (c. SA 1590): After Sauron/Annatar left, Celebrimbor created the three great Elven rings of power: Vilya and Narya (made of gold), and Nenya (made of Mithril). As they were forged without the knowledge of Sauron, they weren’t subject to his will.

Sauron forges the One Ring (c. SA 1600): During his time with the Elven smiths and Celebrimbor, Sauron took as much knowledge as he gave regarding the forging of rings of power. Having left Eregion, he returned to Mordor and forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, putting a large amount of his own power into the Ring. Celebrimbor immediately realized he had been betrayed, and a war between Sauron and the Elves ensued, leaving Eregion destroyed. Celebrimbor was captured by Sauron. Under torture and before he died, he revealed the location of all the rings of power except the three Elven rings. Sauron eventually used the power of the One Ring to dominate and control the owners of all the lesser Rings of Power, save the Three which were hidden from him.

Elrond builds the refuge of Imladris/Rivendell (SA 1697): After the fall of Eregion, Elrond founded the refuge of Rivendell, or Imladris, near the western slopes of the Misty Mountains. Rivendell became a shelter for the Elves fleeing the destruction of Eregion by Sauron’s forces, and would also become a safe haven for many a traveler throughout both the Second and Third Ages. Elrond had received the Elven Ring, Vilya, from Gil-Galad, and it was partially through its power that he was able to protect Rivendell throughout the Second and Third Ages. At the end of the Second Age, Rivendell served as a gathering point for the forces of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, prior to crossing the Misty Mountains to eventually confront Sauron.

The Ringwraiths arise (SA 2251): After sacking Eregion, Sauron gave nine rings of power to mortal men. As with many of the rings of power, the life of the ringbearers was prolonged and they enjoyed great power while it lasted, but being mortal men they eventually turned into shadows of their former selves, or wraiths. The recipients of the nine rings are referred to in Tolkien’s writings as nine kings of men. However, only one of the Ringwraiths was ever named. Khamûl was a king of the Easterlings during the Second Age, and one of the wraiths to enter the Shire in search of the bearer of the One Ring in the Third Age. The Witch-king was the greatest of the Nine, but Tolkien never revealed his origins or his name. Nevertheless, the Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, were Sauron’s most terrible servants, and turned the tide of many future battles to Sauron’s benefit.

Ringwraiths

Sauron is “defeated” & brought to Númenor (SA 3262): After destroying Eregion, Sauron and his forces continued westward with the goal of dominating all of Middle-earth. At the request of the Elves, the Númenoreans came to their aid, eventually driving Sauron and his forces back. When Sauron realized he was losing, he allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner to Númenor by King Ar-Pharazôn. Using his considerable powers of persuasion, he converted many Númenoreans to the worship of darkness, and convinced Ar-Pharazôn that the Valar were selfish to retain immortality only for themselves. At Sauron’s urging, Ar-Pharazôn eventually decided to openly attack Valinor, convinced that in doing so he would become immortal.

Ar-Pharazôn builds the Great Armada & assails Valinor (SA 3319): Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the twenty-fifth and last King of Númenor. In a bid to wrest the gift of immortality from the Valar, Ar-Pharazôn gathered a mighty armada with which to sail to Valinor and assail the Valar. The fleet eventually sailed far enough that they could no longer see Númenor on the horizon, which was strictly forbidden. When the fleet passed the island of Tol Eressëa and anchored near the coast of Valinor, the Valar called upon Eru for aid. Eru then changed the shape of the world, making it round so that Men could never again sail to Valinor.

Destruction of Númenor (SA 3319): In the turmoil caused by Eru changing the shape of the world, Ar-Pharazôn’s fleet was pulled into the chasm that opened between the Blessed Realm and mortal lands, and Númenor sank beneath the Sea. All of its inhabitants were killed. However, Elendil, his sons Isildur and Anárion, and others who had not been swayed by Sauron, realized that Ar-Pharazôn’s assault on Valinor could be disastrous. Just before the island was destroyed, they set sail for Middle-earth in nine ships. Reaching Middle-earth, they founded the kingdoms of Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Sauron’s body was destroyed, but he was still in possession of the One Ring – and his spirit also escaped to Middle-earth.  

Destruction of Númenor

Arnor & Gondor are formed; the White Tree is replanted (SA 3320): Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor (and a descendant of Telperion), had been destroyed by Sauron. However, Isildur had planted a seedling in secret, and carried the sapling to Middle-earth during his escape from the destruction of Númenor. It was planted in Minas Ithil. When Sauron took Minas Ithil (which became known as Minas Morgul), he again burned the white tree. However, Isildur once again rescued a sapling, and early in the Third Age, planted it in Minas Anor (later, Minas Tirith).

Isengard & Orthanc are built by Númenorian exiles (SA 3320): The Ring of Isengard and the tower of Orthanc were built by the Dúnedain, Númenor exiles. The fortress and tower provided protection for the northwesternmost region of the kingdom of Gondor. Its imposing tower and encircling, rocky walls were almost impregnable, having only one entrance to gain access. During his escape from Númenor, Elendil brought with him the palantíri, the seven seeing stones, and one was placed in Orthanc. It was used to communicate with other stones in various places around the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

The Last Alliance of Elves & Men is formed (SA 3430): With the One Ring and the Ringwraiths at his disposal, Sauron’s strength grew to be almost insurmountable by the end of the Second Age. It became apparent to the leaders of the free people that only through their combined strength could they hope to stop the Dark Lord. To that end, an alliance was formed between Elendil and Gil-galad. After gathering and making plans in Rivendell, the armies made their way to the plains of Dagorlad outside of Mordor. Forcing their way into Mordor, they besieged Barad-dûr for seven years. Elendil’s son, Anárion, perished during the siege.

The Last Alliance of Elves and Men

Sauron overthrown by Elendil & Gil-galad, who both perish (SA 3441): In a desperate attempt to end the siege of the Last Alliance, Sauron sent out his host once more to confront the forces of the enemy. To bolster his forces and intimidate the enemy, Sauron himself left Barad-dûr to engage in direct combat. After a long battle, Sauron was felled by Gil-galad and Elendil, who both perished in the attempt.

Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s finger (SA 3441): As Elendil died, he fell on his sword, Narsil, which broke under him. Immediately thereafter, to help ensure Sauron’s power was truly ended, Isildur took the hilt shard of his father’s sword and cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger. Without the power of the One Ring, Sauron’s spirit dissipated and disappeared from Middle-earth until later in the Third Age. Elrond and Círdan, lieutenant of Gil-galad, urged Isildur to destroy the Ring once and for all. Instead, Isildur claimed it for himself as wergild for the deaths of his father and brother. Thus, both the One Ring and Sauron survived to wreak havoc once again in the Third Age.

Isildur takes the One Ring

P.S. a word about Galadriel!

Given the important role she played in the events of the Third Age, the absence of Galadriel as a player in the important events of the history of Arda is noticeable. It’s not that we’re ignoring her, it’s just that Tolkien didn’t write her into many, if any really, of the large events, such as the founding of kingdoms and the great battles. From sources like The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, we know that she was born in Valinor, made her way to Middle-earth by crossing the Ice of the ice of the Helcaraxë, and spent much of the First Age living in Doriath with Thingol and Melian.

At the beginning of the Second Age, she and her husband Celeborn led many of the Noldor who lived in Eriador, eventually settling in Eregion, ruled by Celebrimbor. When Annatar/Sauron came among the Elves of Eregion, it was Galadriel who was mistrustful of him. She counseled Celebrimbor to keep the Three Elven Rings safely hidden from Sauron, which he did, sending Vilya to Gil-galad, Narya to Cirdan the Shipwright, and giving Nenya to her. After living in various places throughout the rest of the Second Age, she and Celeborn finally settled in Lórien.  

So, Galadriel was always in the picture, just not as closely involved in the ‘greatest’ events as others were. Her time to shine would, of course, come in the Third Age and the War of the Ring.

Refresh your memory on Pre-First and First Age events in our previous posts! Ready to VOTE? Click here! You have until end of day Thursday 24th March to vote in Round One; winners will be declared and Round Two launched on Friday 25th. Which event is THE crucial one in the history of Middle-earth? You decide!

Gondolin

We’re all familiar with the events of the end of the Third Age depicted in The Lord of The Rings books: Frodo, aided by the Fellowship of the Ring and other free peoples of Middle-earth, finally defeated the dark lord Sauron.  But what about previous ages, and the rich history that led up to those events? The reality is that there were thousands and thousands of years of trials, tribulations, love, bravery, betrayal, and sacrifice that led to the events of the Third Age.

You’ll find some of the backstory in The Fellowship of the Ring chapter: “The Shadow of the Past,” and even more bits and pieces in “The Tale of Years” in The Lord of the Rings appendices. Other than those two sources, if you haven’t read The Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales – or if you have, but have trouble keeping your Fingolfins and Finrods straight, – you’ll want to read this summary of the First Age before you dive into Middle-earth March Madness voting.

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness: Events of the First Age”

TheOneRing.net will be at WonderCon this year, and we will be hosting two panels over the course of the weekend, April 1-3 in the Anaheim Convention Center. If you plan to attend the convention, please read through the WonderCon COVID protocols.

Our first panel, Middle-earth! Coming to your TV this Fall will be at 4:30 pm on Friday, April 1 (no joke) in room North 200A. This will be our big overview panel, with all the news, rumors, and anecdotes about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, as well as the WB’s upcoming animated War of the Rohirrim. There will be an update on any and all Middle-earth news, activities, and events coming up this year. And we can wait to see if anyone has had enough time to create a costume from the recent Amazon Teaser Trailer.

Our Second panel, I am no Man: The Women of Middle-earth will be a deep dive into Tolkien’s legendarium to discuss all the unique and wonderful women that Tolkien created. For those who have just read The Hobbit, Middle-earth feels like an ‘all males club’, but in The Lord of the Rings and some of the books of deeper lore, there are queens and warriors and creators, all women, who had a hand in shaping the Middle-earth we all know and love. The presentation is still being crafted, if there is a specific woman of Middle-earth you wish to see discussed, send an email to Garfeimao@TheOnering.net. Include the character name and a brief note about what makes her so special for you, we will include as many as we can fit into our allotted panel time.

Priscilla Tolkien, the youngest of J.R.R. Tolkien’s four children, died on February 28 2022. She was 92 years old.

Born June 18 1929, Priscilla was the only daughter of the Professor and his wife Edith. They were already living in Oxford when she was born. At the age of fourteen, Priscilla typed up some of the early chapters of The Lord of the Rings for her father. She studied English at Lady Margaret Hall college in Oxford, who yesterday announced her passing.

Priscilla, like her older brother Christopher, was a champion of her father’s work. She was Vice-President of the Tolkien Society, and together with the oldest of the four children, her brother John, she published in 1992 The Tolkien Family Album. Frodo’s name in early drafts of The Lord of the Rings, Bingo Bolger-Baggins, apparently came from her names for a family of toy bears she had as a child.

Partially hidden behind the show title on one of the new Amazon Prime The Lord of the Rings–The Rings of Power posters is a hammer handle bearing Cirth runes. They appear to say “AWAKE SLEEPING STONE”, which is appropriate since the poster seems clearly to portray a Dwarf, hands permeated with gold dust.

The words on the sword seem to translate as “Awake Sleeping Stone”

Perhaps the meaning behind these words can be discovered in The Silmarillion. When Aulë, one of the Valar, created the Dwarves in secret “in a hall under the mountains in Middle-earth”, he preempted Eru Ilúvatar’s desire that the Elves, the Firstborn of his design, be the first sentient beings in Middle-earth. Instead of destroying Aulë’s creations, Ilúvatar granted them life, but not until after the Elves were awakened. Ilúvatar tells Aulë:

“They shall sleep now in the darkness under stone, and shall not come forth until the Firstborn have awakened upon Earth; and until that time thou and they shall wait, though long it may seem. But when the time comes, I will awaken them…”

J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion, Of Aulë and Yavanna

Or it could be that the inscription on the hammer refers to the Dwarves’ love of delving deep under the earth, awakening the stone to its potential to become vast and glorious halls, such as Menegroth, the realm of King Thingol and Queen Melian, and Moria, or as it is called in the Dwarven tongue, Khazad-dûm.

In regards to the runes that appear on the hammer, they are a system of writing called the Cirth, or the Angerthas. They were created by Tolkien and appear in a chart in the Lord of the Rings in ‘Appendix E: Writing and Spelling’. Historically, runes were used across Northern Europe during the Middle Ages by the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Tolkien borrowed from these sources and others to create his own unique set of runes. In Tolkien’s legendarium, the origins of the Dwarven runes as we know them date back to the Sindar and Noldor Elves, and the Dwarves did not come to learn them until the beginning of the Second Age, which fits in with the show’s timeline. The Elves later abandoned Cirth for Tengwar, used commonly to write Quenya and Sindarin. Cirth only represented the sounds of Sindarin, and were primarily used for engraving into stone, metal, or wood, the reason for the straight edges and angles of the letters. The Dwarves of Moria added to and expanded the Angerthas to serve their own language and purposes.

In translating the poster, there were two runes that confused the meaning at first. The first was the rune used for “ng” in “Sleeping”. The poster uses the rune for “nj” instead of “ng”. According to the LotR appendices, the “ng” rune was one of the newer cirth introduced by the Dwarves of Moria, though it does not say at what date. It does say “This Angerthas Moria is represented in the tomb-inscription.” Assuming this references Balin’s Tomb, the “ng” rune might not have been in popular usage until later than the series may portray. The second thing that tripped me up was the rune used for the silent “e” in “Awake” and “Stone”. The symbol for the silent “e” is given a value of “*” on the chart in the appendices, and it was only through further research that I was able to confirm the corresponding letter and sound.

It’s really wonderful to return to Arda! There is so much to look forward to when The Rings of Power airs this fall – and even sooner if these posters are any indication.