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Led a part of the Teleri into the Vales of Anduin during the Great Journey, very roughly 3,700 years1 before the first rising of the Sun
The people he led became the Nandor
Probably 'he who turns back'2


About this entry:

  • Updated 22 October 2017
  • This entry is complete


Leader of the Nandor

The Teleri
(Followers of Olwë)

In the distant past, the Eldar made the Great Journey from Cuiviénen into the West. One of the companies who made this journey were the Teleri under the leadership of Olwë, but when this company reached the Vales of Anduin and the Misty Mountains, dissension arose among them. Their guide Oromë had gone forward to lead the Vanyar and the Noldor through the mountains, leaving the Teleri to follow behind, and without his guidance many of these people were daunted by the looming peaks.

Among these Elves was one named Lenwë3 who refused to continue the march. Lenwë and his numerous supporters therefore abandoned the Great Journey eastward of the Misty Mountains, and passed instead down the Vales of Anduin. These people as a group were known as the Nandor, 'those who turn back', and many of them chose settle in the wide woodlands on either side of the Great River. These were origins of the people known as Silvan Elves, both the native Galadhrim of Lórien and the people of the Woodland Realm of Greenwood the Great.

Not all of Lenwë's followers chose this settled woodland life for themselves. At this time in history, dangerous beasts out of the North still stalked the lands of Middle-earth, and lacking weaponry or defences a part of the Nandor sought a safer home, carrying on their journey southward. Reaching the southern extent of the Misty Mountains, they passed through the wide opening that would long afterwards be called the Gap of Rohan, and made their way northwards again on the western side of the Mountains. Crossing Eriador and the Blue Mountains, they eventually settled in the region called Ossiriand to form the people known as the Laiquendi or Green-elves.

At some point during these divisions of his people, Lenwë himself became lost to history, and we have no knowledge of his fate. All we can say for sure is that the travelling western group of Lenwë's people were eventually led into Beleriand by his son Denethor, so Lenwë must either have remained behind among the Silvan Elves, or perished on the westward journey. We do know that the western lands were dangerous at this time (it was these very dangers that caused Denethor to seek the protection of Thingol beyond the Mountains). Though we do not know Lenwë's fate for sure, then, on balance it seems most likely that he met his end in the wilds of Eriador, and that his people followed his son Denethor in his place.



Dating events before the rising of the Sun is difficult, and especially so in this case as we have no specific annal referring to Lenwë. According to the Annals of Aman in volume X of The History of Middle-earth, the Elves set out on the Great Journey in the Valian Year 1105, and reached Beleriand in VY 1115 (these dates convert to approximately 3,785 to 3,689 years before the Sun first rose). Lenwë was among those who set out on this journey, but he abandoned it before crossing the Misty Mountains. The exact date of his departure is not known, but it must fall somewhere within this period of ninety-six years.


A note in volume XI of The History of Middle-earth comments that Lenwë was a later rendering of this Elf's name by Noldorin historians, and that he was probably originally known as something like Denwego. Unfortunately the note in question stops short of providing a direct translation of the name, but in context the Den- of Denwego is probably related to the root ndan-, 'back'. The better known translated version Lenwë apparently uses a different root, but one that is nearly synonymous in this context: led-, 'go, depart'.


As seen in note 2 above, Lenwë's name means 'he who turned back' or 'he who departed', clearly referencing his actions in abandoning the Great Journey. On that basis, the name Lenwë seems to be an epessë, an 'after-name' given to describe his departure from the Journey. He must not therefore have been named Lenwë at the time he led his people away, but we have no record of any earlier name for this Elf.


About this entry:

  • Updated 22 October 2017
  • This entry is complete

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