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Uncertain, but known to be extant in the years before I 1161
Known to have dwelt at one time in Nevrast, and apparently later in Gondolin
'Noble one'


About this entry:

  • Updated 12 July 2023
  • This entry is complete


The father of Voronwë the mariner


A Noldorin Elf associated with the House of Fingolfin,3 of the following of Fingolfin's son Turgon. Of his early history we know little, except that he dwelt in Nevrast during the time Turgon ruled there, soon after the Return of the Noldor. This in turn would suggest that Aranwë had originated in Valinor, and followed his lord into exile.

There were already Sindar dwelling in Nevrast when Turgon settled there, but they were accepting of the Noldor, and indeed these two peoples of the Elves quickly mingled. Though the details we have of Aranwë's life are limited, it seems that he was part of this mingling. Based on what little we know, he wed one of the Grey-elves of the Falas, and his son Voronwë was born in the seaward land of Nevrast.

In the year I 116, Turgon led all of his people away from Nevrast to settle in his new Hidden City of Gondolin. We have no specific records of Aranwë after this date, but it seems to he must have followed his lord and found a home in the new city. At the very least, we know that his son Voronwë made the journey, and it seems inconceivable that Aranwë would have remained behind in Nevrast.4

After their settlement in the new city, the people of Gondolin lived a peaceful and secret existence for nearly four hundred years, and we have no reason to doubt that Aranwë lived through this time. In I 472 King Turgon led a great host to the battle that would come to be called the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, but we're not told whether Aranwë was among that host.5 Assuming that he lived past the battle, he would have seen the destruction of his home in the Fall of Gondolin, and may well have lost his life at that time (he is not mentioned among the survivors of the city's fall). If he did survive, he would eventually have made his way to the refuges at the Mouths of Sirion, but of his final fate we are not told.



Aranwë is only ever mentioned indirectly as the father of Voronwë, so we have very little information from which to derive his dates. We can definitely place him in Nevrast before I 116 (because his son Voronwë was born there, and Turgon's people left that land in I 116). On that basis, he most likely originated in Aman, and accompanied Turgon into Nevrast when the Noldor returned to Middle-earth. Indeed, his son Voronwë apparently confirms this when he calls himself '...kin of those who passed the Grinding Ice' (Unfinished Tales Part One I, OF Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin). This is a somewhat oblique comment, but its most natural reading would probably be as a reference to his father Aranwë making the crossing of the Helcaraxë from Aman into Middle-earth.


The wife of Aranwë is never given a name, but it is known that she was a Grey-elf who belonged to the kin of Círdan the Shipwright. Círdan was lord of the coastland regions of the Falas, directly southward of Aranwë's old home in Nevrast, a fact that further reinforces the idea that Aranwë himself had a degree of noble blood.


Aranwë's son Voronwë introduced himself to Tuor with the words, 'I am Voronwë son of Aranwë of the House of Fingolfin.' (Unfinished Tales Part One I, Of Tuor and His Coming to Gondolin). On its face, we might naturally take this to mean to Aranwë was a descendant of Fingolfin's House. Fingolfin, however, had only three children (Fingon, Turgon and Aredhel) and their own children are largely accounted for, so there is little room to fit Aranwë into the House directly.

Turgon had a single daughter, Idril, and Aredhel had only one son, Maeglin, so if Aranwë literally belonged to the House of Fingolfin, he must have been a direct descendant of King Fingon (and apparently a close relation to Gil-galad). There are indeed some questions of canonicity when it comes to Fingon's children (see note 1 to the entry for Gil-galad), but nonetheless it is very difficult to make sense of Aranwë as Fingon's son or grandson.

Much more likely, and indeed probably unavoidable, would be an interpretation of Voronwë's words to suggest that Aranwë served or followed the House of Fingolfin, rather than literally belonging to the line of royal descent.


If further confirmation were needed that Aranwë settled in Gondolin, we have the fact that Christopher Tolkien lists him as an 'Elf of Gondolin' in his index to Unfinished Tales (though he does not explain the reasoning behind that comment).


Aranwë's son Voronwë discussed the Nirnaeth with Tuor on several occasions, but never mentioned his father in connection with the battle. If Aranwë had fallen there, we might expect Voronwë to have mentioned the fact. So, while hardly conclusive, this does seem to suggest that Aranwë lived on past the Nirnaeth.

See also...



About this entry:

  • Updated 12 July 2023
  • This entry is complete

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