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
Race
The lands west of the Blue Mountains, south of the Dwarf-road
Sources
The Gelion itself rose from two streams, whose springs lay either side of the March of Maedhros; its six tributaries all rose in the Blue Mountains
Outflow
Into the Great Sea south of Taur-im-Duinath1
Pronunciation
'Ossir' is pronounced o'sseer
Meaning
'Ossir' is a shortened form of Ossiriand, 'Land of Seven Rivers'

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  • Updated 6 May 2010
  • This entry is complete

Seven Rivers of Ossir

The River Gelion and its six tributaries

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Map of the Seven Rivers of Ossir

Seven rivers that flowed through Ossiriand, the land of the Green-elves west of the Blue Mountains before the end of the First Age. The most important of these was the Gelion, which flowed from the March of Maedhros in the far north, and formed the western border of Ossiriand.

The other six rivers were tributaries of this large river, each stemming from a separate spring in the Blue Mountains, and flowing westward to empty into the Gelion. The northernmost of these was the Ascar, which rose in the mountains near Nogrod, and flowed beside the Dwarf-road to Sarn Athrad. South from the Ascar were the Thalos, the Legolin, the Brilthor and the Duilwen. Finally, the southernmost of the six was the River Adurant, in which the green island of Tol Galen stood.

Gelion By far the greatest of the Seven Rivers, Gelion formed the western border of Ossiriand. Its double sources were far to the north, where it sprang from the hills either side of the March of Maedhros, and it had already flowed for nearly two hundred miles before it reached the northern fringes of Ossiriand. The other six of the Seven Rivers were all tributaries of Gelion, each springing separately from the Ered Luin and running down westwards to meet the greater river. These six lesser rivers are listed below in order from north to south.
Ascar (Rathlóriel) The northernmost of Gelion's six tributaries was known throughout most of the First Age as the Ascar (a name meaning 'rushing'). It flowed out of the mountains near the Dwarf-cities of Nogrod and Belegost, and so it was along the Ascar's banks that the Dwarves built their trading road into Beleriand. After the sack of Doriath, the Dwarves of Nogrod were returning along this route with the treasure they had looted, when they were attacked and defeated by Beren and a force of Green-elves. The treasures of Menegroth were cast into the Ascar, and from that time on it became known as Rathlóriel, meaning 'Goldenbed'.
Thalos The second tributary of Gelion was also the shortest, running for no more than a hundred miles from the Blue Mountains at the point where they came closest to the main river. The Thalos took its name from the Elvish word for 'torrent'.
Legolin South of Thalos, Gelion began to bend away from the Blue Mountains, and so its tributary rivers began to grow in length, starting with Legolin. The name Legolin derives from the Elvish for 'free-running'.
Brilthor Like its neighbouring rivers to the north, Brilthor's name reflects the fact that it rushed down from the Blue Mountains and through Ossiriand to meet Gelion. Its name comes from the Elvish for 'glittering torrent'.
Duilwen Fifth of the sixth tributaries that ran through Ossiriand, and the second longest after Adurant, Duilwen arose in the southern Ered Luin and flowed rapidly down to meet Gelion opposite the great forest of Taur-im-Duinath. The name Duilwen means 'fresh river'.
Adurant The most southerly of Gelion's six tributaries was also the longest. It took its name (which means 'double course') from the fact that it broke into two streams, creating a large island before rejoining and flowing on westwards. It was on that island, Tol Galen, that Beren and Lúthien dwelt for a time after their return from the Halls of Mandos.

Notes

1

The mouths of the River Gelion don't appear on any known map - in all cases, the river flows off the map's southern edge in a most inconvenient fashion. However, we know that the forest of Taur-im-Duinath grew between Sirion in the west and Gelion in the east, so logically Gelion must have flowed into the sea south of the forest. In fact this conclusion is explicitly supported by earlier versions of the Silmarillion: for example, in the Quenta Silmarillion reproduced in The History of Middle-earth volume 5 (The Lost Road), the forest is placed 'between the mouths of Sirion and Gelion' (our italics). By contrast, later versions, including the published Silmarillion, describe it in less definite terms as just 'between Sirion and Gelion'. It isn't clear whether this change holds any particular significance - just possibly, Tolkien may have intended Gelion's outflow to be further south, somewhat beyond the southern end of the forest.

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