The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
A huge continent or continents lying to the east of the Great Sea
A name used in Aman for the lands lying beyond the Great Sea
Other names


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  • Updated 11 July 2013
  • This entry is complete

Outer Lands

A name for Middle-earth itself

A name for Middle-earth. Outer Lands was the term used by the Valar and the other peoples of Aman, describing the Mortal lands that lay outside the Blessed Realm.

Far in the past, the Valar had originally dwelt on Almaren within Middle-earth, but after an attack by Melkor they abandoned that place, and travelled across the Sea into the West. There they founded a new land of Valinor, leaving a barren and empty continent behind them. Melkor had destroyed the Lamps of the Valar in his attack, so that Middle-earth was now lit only by starlight. In Valinor the Valar made the Two Trees and brought light back to their own realm, but Middle-earth was left a dark and unpeopled place, its living things slumbering through the Sleep of Yavanna. Thus to the Valar it became the Outer Lands, the lands beyond Aman to which they paid little heed.

Though largely unheeded, the Outer Lands were not entirely forgotten by the Valar. Oromë, especially, would often ride there under the stars, and thus he discovered the newly awakened Elves at Cuiviénen. Many of these departed from the Outer Lands, following Oromë back into the West. Middle-earth was left quiet under the stars for three ages, unpopulated but for those Elves who remained at Cuiviénen, or were spread across the lands by the Great Journey.

Melkor had been held prisoner by the Valar during those three ages, since his capture in the Battle of the Powers. After his release, he plotted vengeance, and eventually he achieved the destruction of the Two Trees and escaped into Middle-earth. From the dying Trees, the Valar created the Sun and Moon and sent them to bring light to Middle-earth. Meanwhile the Noldor pursued Melkor back into the Outer Lands, while in the east the first Men awoke. Thus the empty and quiet lands beyond Aman began to stir into life.

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