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Long Winter

R. Ward Shipman - Long Winter.jpg
Long Winter
LocationEriador, Dunland, Rohan
DateNovember T.A. 2758 to March 2759
ResultThousands of lives lost in Rohan and The Shire
ParticipantsHobbits, Dunlendings, Rohirrim
DescriptionLong, cold winter; Rohan covered in snow for five months

The Long Winter (November T.A. 2758 to March 2759[1]) was an extremely cold and long-lasting winter in Middle-earth, covering Eriador, Dunland and Rohan.




In T.A. 2758, Easterlings and Dunlendings (led by Wulf) attacked Rohan from both the north-west and east; not only was Gondor unable to help due its war with the Corsairs, but the Dunlendings were strengthened with the enemies of Gondor who had travelled up the rivers Isen and Lefnui. The Rohirrim were defeated; King Helm Hammerhand's son, Haleth, was killed; and Wulf sat in Meduseld declaring himself King.[1]

The Long Winter compounded the problems: Rohan was under snow for five months with both the Rohirrim and their enemies suffering grievously from famine. Meanwhile, King Helm took refuge in the Hornburg and the ravine behind (becoming known as Helm's Deep): at Yule a great counsel was held, and, against the King's advice, Háma, Helm's younger son, went out in a sortie and was lost in the snow. King Helm himself would secretly go out to enemy camps, clad in white, and slay many men with his bare hands - before he left he would always blow his great horn, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies. One day, the men heard Helm's great horn blowing in the Deeping-coomb, but when they came to him, they saw that he had died, standing upright.[1]

Come March T.A. 2759, the Long Winter ended and Fréaláf Hildeson, Helm's sister-son and new King of Rohan, came from Dunharrow and took back Edoras, catching the Dunlendings unaware and killing Wulf; the Dunlendings and Easterlings were driven out of Rohan (including Isengard), or else they had perished. The melted snow caused great floods with the Entwash becoming a vast fen; and in the spring, once Beregond, son of Steward Beren, had defeated the invaders from the south, Gondor sent aid to Rohan.


Although the Long Winter did not affect Gondor directly, it did have an indirect effect: in T.A. 2758, three fleets[1] of Corsairs and Haradrim began to assail the coasts of Gondor as far north as the River Isen;[2] due to the dual perils of the Long Winter and the war with the Dunlendings, the Rohirrim were unable to send help.[3]

After Beregond had defeated the invaders, Gondor began to recover to its former power. However, in T.A. 2758, seeing Rohan's weakness, the Steward, Beren gave the keys to Orthanc to the wizard Saruman.[2]

The Shire

The Long Winter resulted in the deaths of many thousands of Hobbits in The Shire.[4] Although the wizard Gandalf came to the aid of the Hobbits,[5] a dreadful famine followed the Long Winter, known as the Days of Dearth, which lasted into T.A. 2760.

The Long Winter had a more indirect effect on the history of The Shire and Middle-earth: it was during the Long Winter that Gandalf first became fond of Hobbits and their affairs, which indirectly led to Gandalf's selection of Bilbo Baggins to go on the Quest of Erebor:

"And then there was the Shire-folk. I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter, which none of you can remember. They were very hard put to it then: one of the worst pinches they have been in, dying of cold, and starving in the dreadful dearth that followed. But that was the time to see their courage, and their pity one for another. It was by their pity as much as their tough uncomplaining courage that they survived. I wanted them to survive. [...] And anyway you must begin at some point, with some on person. I dare say he was "chosen" and I was only chosen to choose him; but I picked out Bilbo."
Gandalf speaking to Pippin[6][7]

See Also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The House of Eorl"
  2. 2.0 2.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix A, "The Númenorean Kings", "Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion", "The Stewards"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Heirs of Elendil", p. 205
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Hobbits"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, "Appendix A. The Quest of Erebor", p. 370
Preceded by:
War of the Dwarves and Dragons
Major events of Middle-earth
T.A. 2758 - T.A. 2759
Followed by:
War of the Dwarves and Orcs