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Dates
Extant during the Quest for the Silmaril, I 465 - I 4671
Location
In the Forest of Neldoreth in Doriath, relatively close to Menegroth2
Species
Pronunciation
hee'reelorn
Meaning
'Tree of the lady', in reference to Lúthien Tinúviel who was briefly imprisoned in its heights
Other names
Originally known as Neldor3

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 8 June 2021
  • Updates planned: 1

Hírilorn

The great beech of Doriath

An immense beech-tree that grew close to the gates of Menegroth, the underground capital of King Thingol. Its original name seems to have been Neldor, meaning 'triple-tree' because of its three tall straight trunks. It is a mark of the tree's fame that its name ultimately became the Sindarin word for 'beech', from which was named the entire forest of Neldoreth, where it grew.

Its name was changed at the time of the Quest of the Silmaril. Concerned that his daughter Lúthien would risk danger seeking out Beren, Thingol had a house built among the branches of the great beech, and imprisoned Lúthien there. After this time the tree's name was changed to Hírilorn, meaning 'Tree of the Lady', though it did not hold Lúthien for long. Using her magical arts, she escaped from Hírilorn and set out to aid Beren in many adventures, eventually helping him to recover a Silmaril from Morgoth's Iron Crown.

As it had seen these first steps in the Quest, the mighty beech also saw its end: the Silmaril was finally recovered in the Hunting of the Wolf, but in that hunt Beren received a mortal wound, and it was beneath Hírilorn's branches that Lúthien was briefly reunited with him before he died.


Notes

1

We have no real clues to the dating of Hírilorn, except that it was clearly ancient even at the time of the Quest for the Silmaril. Beech trees can live for centuries (or even millennia under the right circumstances) so it might quite possibly have survived to the end of the First Age, about a hundred years after the Quest. It would ultimately have met its end, along with most of Beleriand, in the cataclysms that accompanied the War of Wrath.

2

We have two facts about Hírilorn's location: that it lay close to Menegroth, and that it stood within the Forest of Neldoreth. Menegroth was not in Neldoreth but in neighbouring Region, on the river Esgalduin that separated the two forests. So, Hírilorn must have been across the river from Thingol's stronghold. For the tree to be near Menegroth, it must have stood somewhere in the crook of Esgalduin, where the course of the river curved round from a southward direction to flow westward toward Sirion.

3

According to The Etymologies (in volume V of The History of Middle-earth), the 'proper' name of the tree was Neldor, thought to derive from Elvish words for 'three' and 'tree' (because it was formed from three trunks growing together). From this neldor became the general word for a beech in Doriath, hence the forest name Neldoreth.

See also...

Beeches, Elu Thingol

Indexes:

About this entry:

  • Updated 8 June 2021
  • Updates planned: 1

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