No Elves in the Fourth Age?!

Jorge Qiñónez: 3326 Polk Avenue, San Diego. CA 92,104. USA

Note: All quotations are from the Houghton Mifflin hardcover editions. Also, SD = Sauron Defeated; LotR = The Lord of the Rings; I, II, III = The three volumes of LotR; S= The Silmarillion; UT = The Unfinished Tales.

In the first issue of Other Hands, Mr. Anders Blixt states something quite dismaying about the state of affairs with the Elves (i.e., the Eldar; the Avari are not the concern of this article) in the Fourth Age. He states that The Elves voyage to Aman or disappear into the deep forests and shun Men (p. 16).” Since this was all he stated about the Elves, he should have perhaps have not written anything; because the little that he did say comes across as a gross generalization. This article hopes to correct this as well as to shed a little light and hope” for those of you out there who thought the Eldar were completely extinct in the Fourth Age.

To begin with, I believe the following quotation is most appropriate. In the second draft of the Epilogue to LotR, Sam speaks to his daughter, Elanor, who is afraid that all the Elves have disappeared or left Middle-earth: You came at the end of a great Age, Elanorellë; but though it’s over, as we say, things don’t really end sharp like that. It’s more like a winter sunset. The High Elves have nearly all gone now with Elrond. But not quite all; and those that didn’t go will wait now for a while. And the others, the ones that belong here, will last even longer. There are still things for you to see, and maybe you’ll see them sooner than you hope (SD 126).”

This clearly suggests that not all of the Eldar departed Endor. Elrond, Galadriel, and many others (along with Gandalf and his horse) left on a white ship at the end of the Third Age; but they certainly were not all of the Eldar of Endor. For Sam to tell his daughter that there are still things for you to see,” implies that there are enough of them for you to see if you know where to look, i.e. the places where they frequent and reside in.

In the last paragraph of the Prologue to LotR, it is stated about Rivendell (well into the Fourth Age, no less) that though Elrond had departed, his sons [Elrohir and Elladan] long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel; but there is no record of that day when at last he sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth (I 25).” This would appear to contradict my own view that Círdan would have been the Elf with the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth”; but as I will next show, Celeborn probably waited at least several centuries, and maybe even longer, before joining his wife in the West.

Another interesting passage about the last Elves” in Middle-earth comes from the final page of The Silmarillion, at which point Círdan is reported to have said the following: my heart is with the Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens [of Mithlond] until the last ship sails… But when all … things were done … to the Firstborn the world grew old and grey. In that time the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth forever … and an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song (S 304; c.f. III 366).” Since both Círdan and Celeborn were Sindar, this passage seems to imply that Círdan must have waited longer than Celeborn (unless they departed at the same time).

In a letter which he sent to Mrs. Eileen Elgar on 22 September, 1963 (the initial draft of which may be found in Letters: 323 – 333 (the final draft which I now quote from appears only in auction catalogues and remains unpublished), Tolkien stated the following about Celeborn: He had never seen the Blessed Realm… But you must remember that Time did not seem to him as to us. The parting with Galadriel would seem brief, and the end of the world indefinitely remote… His stay would seem no more to him than, say, among mortal Men if a man was obliged to remain behind and finish his business before he followed his wife to a new home in a distant land: a short time of loneliness soon to be healed…” This curious analogy provides us with an insight about how Elves must have felt as they waited for the day when they would finally leave Endor.

Further relevant passages from the Appendices (LotR)

Appendix A

Well into the Fourth Age, during the reign of Elessar “[Legolas] brought south Elves out of Greenwood, and they dwelt in Ithilien, and it became once again the fairest country in all the westlands (III 362).” This indicates that there was plenty of Elven activity occurring at the turn or beginning of the Fourth Age with the Eldar. However, Celeborn moves on to Rivendell and Legolas sails West with Gimli by the 120th year of Fourth Age.

Appendix B

… on the day of the New Year of the Elves, Celeborn and Thranduil met in the midst of the forest; and they renamed Mirkwood Eryn Lasgalen, The Wood of Greenleaves. Thranduil took ail the northern region as far as the mountains that rise in the forest for his realm; and Celeborn took all the southern wood below the Narrows, and named it East Lórien… But after the passing of Galadriel in a few years Celeborn grew weary of his realm and went to Imladris to dwell with the sons of Elrond… (III 375).”

A Summary of the Activity of the Most Noted Eldar in the Fourth Age


At the beginning of the Fourth Age (and without his wife, Galadriel), he establishes East Lórien, He eventually wants a change of scenery and goes to Rivendell to be with his grand-nephews: Elladan and Elrohir. At some point (probably well into the Fourth Age) he leaves Rivendell for Mithlond (the Grey Havens) and sails West.


He remains at the Mithlond until the last white ship sails West (III 319 – 320).

Elladan & Elrohir

Elrond’s twins stay in Rivendell after their father leaves for the West.


He is not stated to have gone West with Elrond and Galadriel (He probably stayed in Rivendell.). In the middle of the Third Age, he was quite active for a Noldo, actually going into combat with the Men of Gondor and Arthedain against the Witch-king of Angmar and his forces (III 331 – 332).

Last known dwelling places of the Eldar


By far the most famous settlement of the Eldar in Endor, it continues to be inhabited into the Fourth Age, by Elrohir, Elladan (perhaps) Glorfindel, and (eventually) Celeborn.

Thranduil’s Realm

A Sinda who ruled over Avari Elves, nothing more can be said about Thranduil except that he had good relations with the people around him, including the Men who lived near the Lake.


Eldar wishing to depart Endor for the West must work together with other Elves at this haven in order to construct a ship to bear them on their journey. The Mithlond, which becomes the last settlement on Endor of the Eldar, is ruled by Círdan.


Although least known, this region probably held the greatest number of the Eldar in all of Middle-earth. Tolkien writes very little about it in comparison to the places just described. Being all that is left of Beleriand, it would have plenty of surprises. If ever there were an Elvish state” in Endor, this would be it! We know that Gil-galad was its king until his death at the close of the Second Age. And though Elrond (his former herald) made no claim to Lindon, Círdan may well have acted as its ruler (however, it is hard to imagine a Sinda ruling Noldor!).

Robert Foster, author of The Complete Guide to Middle-earth (New York: Ballantine Boob, 1978), writes that it was probably the last dwelling place of the Eldar in Middle-earth. We know that it must have had plenty of residents, based on the fact that in The Fellowship of the Ring (I 89) Gildor and his party were returning from a visit to Rivendell either to the Mithlond of to Lindon beyond.

To be a little more specific, we know that Forlindon (S. North Lindon) was primarily inhabited by the Noldor, while Harlindon (S. South Lindon) was home to the Sindar (III 363; UT 252). The last that is said of Lindon in Tolkien’s writings, while he was still alive, is the following quote: Beyond the Lune was elvish country, green and quiet, where no Man went… In the days of the Kings most of the High Elves that still lingered in Middle-earth dwelt with Círdan or in the seaward lands of Lindon. If any now remain, they are few (III 320).”

In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins stated that Gandalf was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores (p. 14)!” The Blue” here could be taken as an allusion to the Ered Luin (S. Blue Mountains) or to the River Lune; elves” probably refers specifically to the Eldar and ships” to those in the Mithlond. This may be compared with what is stated in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” (pp. 191 – 251 in The Tolkien Reader New York: Ballantine, 1966): there were certainly … traditions concerning Hobbits that were taken by the wandering-madness’, and if they ever returned, were afterwards queer and uncommunicable (p. 194).” These Hobbits going into the Blue” for their adventures may have encountered Elves in Lindon, since the sea lies in the same direction as Lindon.

Lastly, Unfinished Tales contains a reference to the Elves of Lindon in a passage concerning the Men inhabiting the dark woods of the great Cape of Eryn Vorn [the peninsula just south of Harlindon], south of the mouth of the Baranduin, which they dared not cross, even if they could, for fear of the Elvenfolk (UT 262 – 263).” This is one of the very rare isolated references to the Elvish habitation of Harlindon.


The Fourth Age presents many opportunities for encounters with the Eldar, whether in a small settlement like Rivendell or in a larger region like Lindon. Why, there are even enough Elves around in the Fourth Age to make a sequel to the interesting (if one were ever written, that is)!


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