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A map of Belegaer in the First Age

Belegaer, also known as the Sundering Seas or the Great Sea, was the sea of Arda that lay west of Middle-earth.

The full extent of Belegaer after the Akallabêth is never made clear, but it reached far enough to the north that parts were covered in ice, and far down into the heats of the south. Before the Second Age, the Belegaer stretched from the Gap of Ilmen in the far north, to where it connected to Ilmen and froze in the far south. Belegaer was more narrow in the north than in the south, with its widest part located near the Girdle of Arda.[1]


Before the Change of the World

Before Melkor's destruction of the Two Lamps, the Belegaer did not exist as there was only a great land mass and Almaren in the Great Lake. After which, the Belegaer began as a large body of water lying between Aman and Middle-earth. It remained unchanged until the War for Sake of the Elves during the Years of the Trees, when the Belegaer grew wider and deeper and less evenly displaced. After the war, Ulmo pulled the willing Elves on the isle of Tol Eressëa across the Belegaer to their new home in Aman.[2][3][1]

The continent of Aman, the home of the Valar, formed the western edge of Belegaer. Before the ruin of Beleriand at the end of the First Age, the sea was narrow and covered with ice in the north, forming the harsh strait of Helcaraxë. The rebelling Ñoldor fleeing Valinor crossed to Middle-earth by ship and by way of the dangerous ice crossings on the Helcaraxë. Fëanor's host crossed by ship along the coasts while Fingolfin's host made the difficult journey, coming up from Aman along the shoreline and across the ices of the Helcaraxë.[1][3]

When the Valar declared war on Morgoth's tyranny in Middle-earth, the host was ferried across the Belegaer by the Swanships of the Falmari. After the War of Wrath, Belegaer was widened again by the drowning of Beleriand in Middle-earth. The Helcaraxë in the north was removed, ending all land access to the Undying Lands.[4]

After the Changing of the World

During the Akallabêth in the later Second Age, Eru "bent" the sea and made the world round. Aman was removed from the world to another realm in which only Elves and a chosen few could find, who would travel the Straight Road to Valinor. Now mortal mariners traveling into the west searching for the summit of Meneltarma, said to be in the middle of sea found neither the summit or Aman only the New Lands set in the far west.[5][6]


Belegaer comes from the Sindarin words 'beleg', meaning 'mighty'[7] and 'aer' or eär, meaning 'sea' (which is also present in the name Eärendil). The Quenya name of Belegaer, never used in published writing, is Alatairë.[citation needed]

Notable features


Bodies of water


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic በለጋአር
Armenian Բելեգաեր
Arabic بيليغاير
Belarusian Cyrillic Белегаер
Bengali বেলেগাএর
Bulgarian Cyrillic Белегаер
Burmese ဗေလေဂ​ဧရ္
Chinese (Hong Kong) 貝烈蓋爾海
Danish Belegaerhavet
Georgian ბელეგაერი
Greek Βελεγαερ
Gujarati બેલેગ​એર
Hebrew בלגייר
Hindi बेलेग​एर
Kannada ಬೆಲೀಗರ್
Kazakh Белегаер (Cyrillic) Belégauer (Latin)
Korean 벨레가에르
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Бэлэгаэр
Macedonian Cyrillic Белегаер
Marathi बेलेगाएर
Mongolian Cyrillic Белегаер
Nepalese बेलेग​एर
Pashto بېلېګاېر
Persian بهلهگاهر ?
Punjabi ਬੇਲੇਗਾਏਰ
Russian Белегаэр
Sanskrit बेलेग​एर्
Serbian Белегаер (Cyrillic) Belegaer (Latin)
Sinhalese බෙලෙගැර්
Tajik Cyrillic Белегаер
Tamil பெலேகர்
Telugu బెలెగ​ఎర
Thai เบเลกายร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Белегаер
Urdu بیلیگایر
Uzbek Белегаер (Cyrillic) Belegaer (Latin)
Yiddish בעלעגאַער

Seas of Arda

Belegaer | Ekkaia | Helcar | Núrnen | Rhûn | Ringol | Shadowy Seas


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Atlas of Middle-earth, The First Age, The Elder Days, "Introduction"
  2. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter I: "Of the Beginning of Days"
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter III: "Of the Coming of the Elves and the Captivity of Melkor"
  4. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, Chapter XXIV: "Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath"
  5. The Silmarillion, Akallabêth (The Downfall of Númenor)
  6. The Atlas of Middle-earth, The Second Age, "The Realms in Exile"
  7. The Silmarillion, Appendix: Elements in Quenya and Sindarin names