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The Eldar travelled to Valinor in the Years of the Trees; while many of the Noldor later returned to Middle-earth as the Moon and Sun first rose, many others remained in the West; by the end of the Third Age, most of these Elves had sailed the Straight Road and returned into the West
Aman, but a large part of the Noldor later returned to Middle-earth
Eldar who completed the Great Journey and saw the Light of the Two Trees
Vanyar, Noldor and a part of the Teleri; all the High Folk of the West in Middle-earth were of the Noldor
The chief cities of the High Elves in Aman were Tirion and Alqualondë; the returning Noldor built many cities and fortresses in Beleriand and beyond; at the end of the Third Age they were mainly found in Lindon and Rivendell1
The 'West' here refers to the Undying Lands in the West beyond the Great Sea
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 21 October 2023
  • This entry is complete

High Folk of the West

The returned Eldar of Valinor


Names shown in bold in this chart represent those peoples who crossed the Great Sea and became High Folk of the West. In Middle-earth the term was used most often for Elves of the Noldor, many of whom later made the journey back across the Sea from the West.

Soon after their awakening by Cuiviënen, many of the early Elves set out on a Great Journey westward across Middle-earth. These Elves became known as the Eldar, and their journey was daunting and dangerous. Many of them fell away from it, but eventually a great number of the Eldar were able to make the voyage across the Great Sea and reach the land of the Valar in the West.

There they remained for millennia, becoming the wisest and most knowledgeable of all the Children of Ilúvatar. Dissent eventually arose among them, however, kindled by the lies of Melkor. Eventually a great part of the Noldor, one of the original three clans of the Eldar, set out from Valinor to return to Middle-earth. Once there, they warred against Melkor, who had murdered their King and stolen the three Silmarils.

In Middle-earth, their time spent in Valinor gave the returned Noldor a depth of vision and insight that surpassed even the Sindarin Elves of Doriath. When Men first crossed into the lands of Beleriand, the first of the Elves that they encountered was Finrod, who was one of the High Elves who had returned from Valinor. At least among the descendants of these Men, such Eldar were known as the High Folk of the West.



The land of Lindon and the refuge of Rivendell were the main settlements of the High Elves during the later Third Age, but such Elves could also be found elsewhere. In these other places, the general population tended to be Elves of the Silvan people who never crossed into the West, with High Elves acting as their rulers. The pre-eminent example of this arrangement was in Lórien, where Galadriel (a noble of one of the highest houses of the Noldor) was the Lady of the Wood, while her people were of Silvan descent.


About this entry:

  • Updated 21 October 2023
  • This entry is complete

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