The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Autumn I 495 - Spring I 496
Across northern Middle-earth
'Fell' is an old word meaning 'terrible' or 'deadly'
There are two 'Fell Winters' in Tolkien's works; this Fell Winter of the First Age is not to be confused with the Fell Winter that occurred long afterward in the Third Age


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  • Updated 14 February 2015
  • Updates planned: 1

Fell Winter of the First Age

The winter of the year I 495

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By the year 495 of the First Age, most of the lands north of Beleriand had fallen under the power of Morgoth and his forces. Late in this year, the Dragon Glaurung travelled far south from Angband to assail Nargothrond, one of the last few Elf-kingdoms to remain standing against Morgoth. Finrod's ancient citadel was sacked, and as the few survivors scattered into the wild, the Fell Winter descended on Beleriand.

The winter of that year lasted for five bitter months across the northern lands, and almost all the rivers of those regions, except the great Sirion, were frozen over. One of the survivors of the Sack of Nargothrond was Túrin, who had been bemused by Glaurung into seeking his mother and sister beyond the Mountains of Shadow in the northern land of Hithlum. After a journey of forty leagues he found them gone, and returned across the snow-covered mountains into the Vales of Sirion, where he sought instead for Finduilas, who had been taken captive from Nargothrond. That search too was in vain - she had been slain by the Orcs before he could find her - and at last Túrin settled with the Woodmen who lived in the Forest of Brethil.

In the months before the winter, unknown to Túrin, his cousin Tuor had escaped out of Hithlum and reached the shores of the Great Sea. There he spoke with Ulmo himself, and later met Voronwë, a shipwrecked Elf of Gondolin. Voronwë agreed to guide Tuor back to the Hidden City to deliver the Vala's message to King Turgon. So, as the ice of winter came down, and Túrin marched northward towards Hithlum, Tuor and Voronwë travelled eastward along the Mountains of Shadow. Their paths crossed at the ruined springs of Eithel Ivrin, but the cousins did not know each other, and they passed by without speaking. Tuor and Voronwë travelled on along their own path, and were received into Gondolin in the depths of the winter.

Note that there are two Fell Winters in Tolkien's works. The Fell Winter endured by Túrin and Tuor took place in the First Age, and is not to be confused with the Fell Winter mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings. That was the winter of the year III 2911, six thousand years and more after the time of Túrin and Tuor.

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