The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Destroyed in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age
Location
The Bay of Balar, in the south of Beleriand
Origins
Some sources state that the isle was an eastern promontory of Tol Eressëa, left behind in the Bay of Balar when the main island was taken into the West
Race
Division
Culture
Pronunciation
Balar is pronounced 'ba'lar' (the final 'r' should be distinctly pronounced)
Meaning
Balar probably means 'Power' (a reference to the Maia Ossë, who formerly came to this region)

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  • Updated 19 June 2008
  • This entry is complete

Isle of Balar

The refuge of Círdan

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Map of the Isle of Balar

A large island (indeed, the largest known island off the shores of Middle-earth) located in the Bay of Balar, some seventy miles south of the coastlands of Arvernien.

According to legend, the Isle was the eastern horn of the much greater island of Tol Eressëa, which broke off when Ulmo towed away the main island to Aman carrying the Vanyar and the Noldor. It is said that the Maia Ossë often came to the Isle of Balar.

The island was noted for its pearls, which were found in great abundance in the shallow waters around it. These were collected by the people of Círdan, who gave them freely to the other Elf-lords.

While we are not told of the nature or location of settlements on the island, it is clear that it was populated at least early in the First Age, and possibly before that. As well as the Elves of the Havens, Balar was explored by the people of Nargothrond, and Turgon built refuges there for the Gondolindrim after the Dagor Bragollach in 455 (First Age). From these, he sent out ships seeking Aman and the aid of the Valar, but none succeeded.

The Isle of Balar became an important centre after the destruction of the Havens in 472 (First Age), when Círdan and Gil-galad fled to the island and settled there. While it is not stated certainly, it is likely that Eärendil's ship Vingilot was built here, and that the Mariner set out for the West from Círdan's havens on the Island.


Notes

1

In The Etymologies, Tolkien speculates that the name might derive from báláre ('powerful ?lord'), a reference to the Maia Ossë who was said to often come to the Bay of Balar. (The History of Middle-earth Volume 5, The Lost Road and Other Writings III The Etymologies).

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