The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Apparently on the banks of the Celduin (River Running)1
Race
Pronunciation
do'rwinion
Meaning
Uncertain2

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  • Updated 2 May 2011
  • This entry is complete

Dorwinion

Source of the finest wines of Middle-earth

Map of Dorwinion

A land of lush gardens on the banks of the River Running (or Celduin), famed for the quality of its wines, which were traded at least as far away as the northern reaches of Mirkwood. We know little of the land or its culture, but apart from their skill at the making of wine, its people were clearly also equipped to trade long distances along the river (and perhaps also across the Sea of Rhûn, on whose shores they dwelt).

In the canonical sources, Dorwinion is named only in The Hobbit, but there is a much earlier reference (in The History of Middle-earth, volume 5) to 'meads of Dorwinion' on the isle of Tol Eressëa. This earlier name seems to have suited a land of green vines and gardens, and was apparently 'borrowed' by Tolkien from his earlier work and given to the winemaking region on the shores of the Sea of Rhûn. (Within the tradition, we might imagine that the inhabitants of the land in Middle-earth had heard tales of the land of Dorwinion in the West, and chosen that name as suitable for their own land.)


Notes

1

The name Dorwinion (originally Dor-Winion) goes back to the earliest periods of Tolkien's writing, but seems to refer to different regions in different sources. The only solid evidence for Dorwinion's final location comes from a map of Middle-earth created by Pauline Baynes and apparently approved by Tolkien, which shows it at the mouth of the Celduin, on the shores of the Sea of Rhûn.

2

Dorwinion clearly translates as 'land of ...', but the -wini- element is difficult to interpret. In earlier uses, it's referred to as a land of vines, which matches well with the fact that it was famous for its wines, but it's unclear whether 'land of vines' (or 'land of wines') is intended as a direct interpretation of the name. Alternatively, Tolkien also made a rough note that the name was equivalent to 'Land of Gwinion' (implying youth, freshness or greenness, though 'Gwinion' here might conceivably be a personal name). These two interpretations are not necessarily at odds with each other; taking them together, the name Dorwinion might be interpreted as 'land of fresh green vines' or something similar.

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