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  • Updated 18 May 2010
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Last Ship

The final departure of the Elves from Middle-earth

"At the Grey Havens dwelt Círdan the Shipwright, and some say he dwells there still, until the Last Ship sets sail into the West."
The Lord of the Rings
Appendix A I (iii)
Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur

Círdan the Shipwright was one of the most ancient of Elves, and his Grey Havens of Mithlond were the chief Elf-havens in the northwest of Middle-earth. From there, the Elves took ship along the Straight Road into the West, a way that was open to them, but closed to Mortals. Círdan maintained the haven at least into the Fourth Age, but it was recognised that eventually its purpose would reach an end, when no more Elves wished to cross the Sea. At that time, Círdan would abandon the Grey Havens and finally travel the Straight Road himself1.

There appears to be some confusion between the Last Ship and the White Ship, on which the Keepers of the Three Rings sailed into the West. Some sources (and notably the movie version of the The Return of the King) refer to the 'Last Ship' as that used by Gandalf and his associates. If that really had been the literal 'last ship', it would have left a considerable number of Elves stranded in Middle-earth.


Notes

1

Strictly, it's never stated explicitly that Círdan planned to sail aboard the Last Ship, but it's twice said that he would no longer dwell at the Grey Havens after the ship sailed, which strongly implies that he intended to sail on that ship.

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