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  • Updated 12 May 2018
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Timeless Halls

The halls of the Undying Lands

"He came unto the timeless halls
where shining fall the countless years,
and endless reigns the Elder King
in Ilmarin on Mountain sheer"
From Bilbo's Song of Eärendil
The Fellowship of the Ring
II 1 Many Meetings

The name 'Timeless Halls' is used several times in the ancient tales of Arda, in reference to different places in the Undying Lands and beyond. The original Timeless Halls were the dwelling place of the Ainur before Arda was even conceived, and the term is later used for the Halls of Mandos, home of the spirits of the dead on the shores of Aman. When Bilbo Baggins described Eärendil finding his way to Timeless Halls beyond the Great Sea, however, he cannot realistically have meant either of these places.

Bilbo's intended reference is not entirely clear, and there are various candidates that might fit the description, all of which would be 'timeless' in the sense that they lay in the Undying Lands beyond the Mortal realm of Middle-earth. In the poem, the name is immediately followed by a reference to the Elder King Manwë, and indeed the most natural reading of these lines is that the 'Timeless Halls' refer to the domed halls of Ilmarin on the summit of Taniquetil, home to Manwë and Varda.

This interpretation is far from impossible, but it is difficult to reconcile with our fuller accounts of Eärendil's journey, which make no mention of his travelling to Ilmarin. According to the version of the tale in The Silmarillion, Eärendil first found his way to the Elves' city of Tirion (which is mentioned earlier in Bilbo's song, and so cannot be the 'timeless halls' described here). From there he was taken on to Valmar, the city of the Valar. This seems to be the only other plausible candidate for Bilbo's timeless halls, sitting perhaps a little less easily with the words of the song, but fitting more closely with the events of the legend as they are established elsewhere.


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About this entry:

  • Updated 12 May 2018
  • Updates planned: 2

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