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A Chronology of the First Age

In preparing this Chronology (for reasons explained in the Introduction) I have encountered a number of difficulties. First Quenta Silmarillion provides no quantitative indication of the passage of time before the creation of the Sun and the return of the Noldorin Exiles; indeed, before the creation of the Two Trees the Valar apparently did not concern themselves with the measurement of Time. Therefore, the seventeen sections of the Chronology marked by Roman numerals are sequential but definitely not isochronous. The three ages of the Chaining of Melkor were obviously vastly longer than the three periods between the poisoning of the Two Trees and the first rising of the Sun, "but of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends."

The second problem has to do with the beginning of the Years of the Sun. I have assumed that FA I (or, more accurately, YS 1) began with the first rising of the Sun in the West. But the reform by which Varda returned night to Arda soon changed the direction of movement, and by the end of FA/YS I the Sun was probably moving from East to West. Since this realignment took some time to accomplish, FA/YS I probably lasted more than 365 days. If, however, the Years of the Sun should be counted from the first rising of the Sun in the East, then all these dates may need to be adjusted.

Incidentally, I have assumed that the year begins in the spring, following the example of the Eldarin loa in providing dates for these Eldarin accounts of the First Age. Thus, the birth of Tuor, which probably occurred in January (Rian conceived two months before Huor went to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad at Midsummer), would be dated 473 in the Calendar of Imladris, but 474 in the Kings' Reckoning. Of course, if the birth of Nienor "in the first beginning of the year"' occurred in January instead of in March (both are possible), then her birth would remain dated 474, but Dagor Bragollach should be changed to 456 and the Fell Winter to 497.

The greatest difficulty, though, involves the establishment of firm dates for most events. The great majority of the references to time in Quenta Silmarillion date events in terms of time elapsed since other events. Unfortunately, these datings occur infrequently, and out of all of them no more than four refer to any single common event: Mereth Aderthad is held "when twenty years of the Sun had passed"; Dagor Bragollach begins in winter, "it being then four hundred years and five and fifty since the coming of Fingolfin"; Nargothrond falls in the same year that the messengers of Cirdan deliver to Orodreth the warning of Ulmo, "when four hundred and ninety-five years had passed since the rising of the Moon, in the spring of the year"; Earendil is born in the spring, "five hundred years and three since the coming of the Noldor to Middle-earth." It is clear that Feanor came to Losgar some time before Fingolfin crossed the Helcaraxe. The Moon rose as Fingolfin first entered Middle-earth, and it had crossed the sky seven times (days? months?) when Fingolfin entered Mithrim at the first rising of the Sun. I have dated Mereth Aderthad as FA/YS 21, since one Year of the Sun had passed at the beginning of FA/YS 2. Similarly with the messengers of Cirdan (496, i.e., the next spring) and the birth of Earendil (504, nearly eight years after Tuor's arrival in Gondolin). But I have dated Dagor Bragollach 455, assuming winter to occur at the end of the year and "the coming of Fingolfin" to refer to his crossing of the Helcaraxe a number of months earlier than his arrival in Mithrim. (Incidentally, an indication of the considerable length of time involved in the return of the Noldor is that during this period Melkor returned to Middle-earth, quarreled with Ungoliant at Lammoth, rebuilt Angband, and overran Beleriand as far as Amon Ereb and the Falas.)

But even with this juggling of dates some problems remain. The events between Dagor Bragollach and the fall of Nargothrond can be dated fairly closely by examining the careers of Turin (born in the year when Beren first saw Luthien, and eight years old in the Year of Lamentation, and twentythree - sixteen years of youth, three of slavery, and four of outlawry - when he journeyed to Gondolin during the Fell Winter that followed the autumn in which Nargothrond was sacked.) This kind of narrative dating is somewhat unreliable Tuor's three years of slavery could easily be thirty-one months - or thirty-nine. It is doubtless because of this imprecision that the dates given for Dagor Bragollach and the sack of Nargothrond seem two years too close. To reconcile this, I have removed two years from Barahir's outlawry in Dorthonion (according to the text, he is killed "in that time"' in which Galdor dies, seven years after Dagor Bragollach, i.e., about 462) and one from Tuor's enslavement in Hithlum.

In short, I must emphasize that the dates in this Chronology (and in the Guide as a whole) for the First Age depend totally on my interpretations of information that does not really warrant this kind of scrutiny. But while there may be errors in the absolute values of the dates, they can nonetheless be relied on as an accurate indication of the relative sequence of events and life-spans. If some of my conclusions seem those of some wayward pupil of Findegil the King's Writer, rather than of a careful scholar and Elf-friend like Bilbo Baggins, my only excuse is the poverty of this Age; I have been unable to ask the Wise to emend my eagerness with their knowledge.

The Creation of Ea. The Valar, the Maiar, and Melkor enter Ea.

The First War and the Marring of Arda. Tulkas enters Ea; Melkor retreats. The completion of Arda.

The Spring of Arda begins. The Valar create the Lamps and settle at Almaren. Tulkas weds Nessa.

Melkor secretly returns to Arda, builds Utumno and the Ered Engrin, and partly blights the Spring.

Melkor overthrows the Lamps; Almaren is destroyed. End of the Spring of Arda; beginning of the Sleep of Yavanna.

The Valar raise the Pelori and settle in Aman.

The Valar create the Two Trees, which begin to shine on the First Day. Beginning of the Count of Time.

Varda kindles new stars; the Elves awake in Cuivienen. They are harassed by Melkor; the first breeding of Orcs.

Orome discovers the Elves. The Battle of the Powers and the Chaining of Melkor. The Great Journey begins. Thingol and Melian wed.

The first age of the Chaining of Melkor. The Sundering of the Elves. Some of the Eldar arrive in Aman; the Noontide of Valinor begins. The Sindar flourish in Beleriand. At the end of the age, Luthien is born.

The second age of the Chaining. Dwarves enter Beleriand and settle the Ered Luin. At the end of this age, Thingol builds Menegroth.

The third age of the Chaining. Evil things begin to stir in Middle-earth. The Laiquendi come to Beleriand. Daeron invents the Cirth.

Melkor is unchained. He raises dissension among the sons of Finwe. Feanor is banished for twelve years and Melkor vanishes from Valinor.

The Darkening of Valinor; end of the Noontide Melkor and Ungoliant poison the Two Trees. Finwe, and steal the Silmarils.

The Long Night. Melkor and Ungoliant flee across the Helcaraxe and quarrel at Lammoth. Melkor rebuilds Angband. The revolt of the Noldor, the Kinslaying, and the utterance of the Doom of Mandos. Melkor invades Beleriand; the first battle of the Wars of Beleriand. The Girdle of Melian is raised.

The Long Night continues. Feanor burns his ships at Losgar. Dagor-nuin-Giliath; Feanor slain and Maedhros captured. Fingolfin marches to the Helcaraxe. The Valar prepare the Moon and Sun.

The Moon Rises. End of the Long Night (?) and the Sleep of Yavanna; the Second Spring of Arda. Fingolfin enters Middle-earth. The Moon crosses the sky seven times.

FA 1
The Years of the Sun begin: the Sun rises in the West. Men awaken. Fingolfin enters Mithrim. The Orcs flee into Angband. Fingon rescues Maedhros. Fingolfin is named High King of the Noldor. Varda causes the Sun to change direction.

Mereth Aderthad.

Ulmo appears to Finrod and Turgon in a dream. Finrod learns of the Caverns of Narog and begins to build Nargothrond, which is completed before Gondolin.

Ulmo reveals Tumladen to Turgon.

c. 60
Dagor Aglareb. The Siege of Angband begins.

c. 70
Thingol forbids the Sindar to speak Quenya.

The completion of Gondolin.

c. 160
Orcs attack Hithlum from Lammoth.

c. 260
Glaurung is defeated on Ard-galen. The Long Peace begins.

c. 304
Aredhel leaves Gondolin.

c. 306
Maeglin is born.

c. 310
Finrod meets the Edain in Ossiriand.

c. 311
Beor enters the service of Finrod.

c. 330
Aredhel and Maeglin enter Gondolin. Death of Aredhel and Eol.

c. 355
Death of Beor.

c. 365
Bereg of the First House returns to Eriador.

c. 370
Haleth brings the Haladin to Brethil.

Birth of Hador.

c. 425
The House of Hador settles in Dor-lomin.

c. 441
Birth of Hurin.

Birth of Huor.

Winter: Dagor Bragollach; death of Hador and Fingolfin. End of the Siege of Angband and the Long Peace. Fingon becomes High King of the Noldor.

Sauron takes Tol Sirion. Beleg and Halmir hold the Crossings of Teiglin. Hurin and Huor spend a year in Gondolin. About this time the Easterlings enter Beleriand.

Autumn: Death of Barahir and the outlaws of Dorthonion. Beren remains in Dorthonion.

Orcs assault Hithlum from north and east; Galdor slain.

Winter: Beren flees Dorthonion.

Summer: Beren first sees Luthien. In this year Turin is born.

Spring: Luthien returns Beren's love. Summer: Beren is brought to Menegroth and undertakes the Quest of the Silmaril. Autumn: Beren in Nargothrond.

The Quest of the Silmaril. Death of Finrod and Draugluin. Tol Sirion cleansed; Sauron flees to Taur-nu-Fuin. Beren recovers a Silmaril. The Hunting of the Wolf; death of Beren, Huan, Carcharoth, and Luthien.

c. 470
Beren and Luthien in Tol Galen; Dior is born.

The Year of Lamentation. The Union of Maedhros and the Nirnaeth Arnoediad; death of Fingon and Huor, capture of Hurin and Gwindor. Turin is sent to Doriath. Tuor and Nienor are born. Turgon becomes High King of the Noldor.

Fall of the Falas; Cirdan retreats to Balar and builds the Havens of Sirion.

Turin fights with Beleg in the marches of Doriath.

Death of Saeros; Turin flees Doriath and becomes an outlaw.

Beleg finds Turin. Turin settles at Amon Rudh.

The Two Captains in Dor-Cuarthol. Amon Rudh betrayed. Beleg and Gwindor free Turin; death of Beleg. Turin comes to Nargothrond.

Tuor enslaved by Lorgan.

Tuor escapes and becomes an outlaw in Mithrim.

Defeat of the Haladin. Glaurung invades West Beleriand; the Battle of Tumhalad and the sack of Nargothrond. Death of Orodreth, Gwindor, and Finduilas. Turin ensnared by Glaurung. Tuor comes to Nevrast and Gondolin. The Fell Winter.

Turin in Brethil.

Turin and Nienor wed.

Death of Glaurung, Nienor, Brandir, and Turin.

Hurin released from Thangorodrim. Death of Morwen. Hurin brings the Nauglamir to Thingol.

Wedding of Tuor and Idril. About this time Hurin dies.

Spring: Birth of Earendil.

c. 505
Death of Thingol. The Dwarves sack Menegroth.

c. 505
Beren recovers the Nauglamir.

c. 509
Second death of Beren and Luthien. The sons of Feanor sack Menegroth; death of Dior and Nimloth. Elwing flees to the Havens of Sirion.

Midsummer: Fall of Gondolin. Death of Ecthelion, Gothmog, Turgon, Maeglin, and Glorfindel. Tuor, Idril, and Earendil flee to the Havens of Sirion. Gil-galad named High King of the Noldor.

c. 543
Tuor and Idril sail West. Earendil becomes lord of the people of the Havens and marries Elwing. Sometime after this Elrond and Elros are born.

NOTE: From this point dates must be figured backward from the end of the Age. Since Elros died in SA 442 at the age of 500, he was born 58 years before the end of the First Age. If Tuor began to feel old at age 70 (as I have assumed here), then the First Age ended after about 600 Years of the Sun. This is not to say, of course, that the First Age lasted six hundred years; the Sleep of Yavanna alone may have endured for the equivalent of tens of thousands of Years of the Sun.

  • The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, by Robert Foster
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