As you probably know, Elves have an extremely long life in The Lord of the Rings mythology, but, what you may not know is who among them is the oldest Elf. Bare in mind, that we are only looking here at Elves mentioned in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, even though, we will mention four even older Elves. Let’s take a look at the oldest Elf in The Lord of the Rings.
The Oldest Elf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy is Cirdan the Shipwright.
The bodies of Elves live indefinitely (they do not age) in Middle-earth, but they can be killed, or so badly wounded that their spirits forsake their bodies. They can also weary of life itself, in time, at which point they can only find peace if they leave and go to the Undying Lands. This is particularly true of those who have been to the Undying Lands and come back (the Noldor). Those who have never been there do not feel it so keenly.
5 Oldest Elves in The Lord of the Rings
These are the five oldest Elves specifically living in Middle-earth at the time of The Lord of the Rings.
Celeborn was the Lord of Lothlórien, and the husband of Galadriel, Lady of the Golden Wood. He was said to be one of the wisest Elves in Middle-earth at the end of the Third Age. Celeborn is probably older than 6500 years which puts him in fifth place on our list of oldest elves in The Lord of the Rings.
During the War of the Ring, Celeborn defended Lothlórien and led the assault on the Enemy castle of Dol Guldur. He remained in Middle-earth for a time at the beginning of the Fourth Age, but eventually, he joined his wife in the Undying Lands.
Celeborn’s Age: probably older than 6500 years
Thranduil, son of Oropher, was an Elven king who ruled over the Woodland Realm in the Second and Third Ages. Though inherently cautious, he eventually committed his kingdom to fight against Sauron in the War of the Ring. Both Celeborn and Thranduil are probably older than 6500 years. He was the father of the Elven prince of Mirkwood, Legolas, who was a member of the Fellowship of the Ring.
Thranduil’s Age: probably older than 6500 years
3. Lady Galadriel
On the third spot on this list of the oldest elves in Lord of the Rings is Galadriel who is 8,372 years old. Galadriel was the “Lady” of the woods of Lothlórien, which she ruled with Celeborn her husband.
She was one of the greatest of the Elves in Middle-earth, surpassing nearly all others in beauty, knowledge, and power. She bore Nenya, one of the three Elven rings of power. J.R.R. Tolkien thought of her, along with Gil-galad the Elven-king, as one of the mightiest and fairest of all the Elves left in Middle-earth in the Third Age.
She was the only daughter and youngest child of Finarfin, prince of the Ñoldor, and of Eärwen, whose cousin was Lúthien. Her elder brothers were Finrod Felagund, Orodreth, Angrod, and Aegnor. Galadriel was a niece of Fëanor, the most important Elf of the early First Age.
Lady Galadriel’s Age: 8,372 years
Fëanor was a Ñoldorin elf and one of the Elven kindred that departed from Valinor in the land of Aman, where they had lived with the Valar.
He was born in Valinor, the only child of Finwë, High King of the Ñoldor, and Finwë’s first wife Míriel Therindë. He was a craftsman, gem-smith, and warrior, the maker of the Silmarils, and inventor of the Tengwar script. He also created the Palantíri.
Fëanor was made the mightiest in all parts of body and mind; countenance, understanding, skill, and subtlety, of all the Children of Ilúvatar. However, in his personality came flaws, foremost among them selfishness and pride, and at a time these would bring anguish and turmoil to his people.
Feanor was born Y.T. 1169, and he died Y.T. 1497 (aged 328 Y.T./3142 years) which makes Feanor 10 000 years old at the time of his death.
Feanor’s Age: He would be about 10,000 years old, hasn’t he died before
1. Cirdan the Shipwright
Being older than 10 000 years old makes Círdan the oldest elf in Lord of the Rings on this list. Círdan, also known as Nowë and Círdan the Shipwright, was one of the highest and most noble of the Sindar, Lord of the Falathrim during the First Age, and Master of the Grey Havens through the Second, Third, and Fourth Age.
He was one of the wisest and most foresighted of the Elves, and by the Second Age the oldest known elf in Middle-earth, to remain so throughout that age and into the Fourth Age as well.
He was also gifted Narya, one of the Three Rings, by Celebrimbor until he surrendered it to Gandalf. He was one of the last elves in Middle-earth, sailing West by FO 120.
Cirdan’s Age: He was more than 10,000 years old
Oldest Elves in the entire Tolkien Legendarium
The oldest elf in the entire Tolkien Legendarium is Ingwë, the High King of the Vanyarin Elves, and the most ancient elf is Imin, one of the fathers of the Elves.
Ingwë was the leader of the first Kindred of Elves of the Vanyar tribe, and the uncle of Finwë’s wife Indis. His name means “the first one, Chief” in Quenya. He was perhaps one of the first twelve elves who awoke in Cuiviénen with Imin, who was the first to awake. He became one of the three elves, with Elwë and Finwë, of the first embassy to Aman.
Ingwë became the first of the Vanyar to travel to Valinor with Oromë. Loving its beauty and bliss, he returned to his people and urged them to undertake a journey to Aman. He and his kin were fascinated with the Valar, and they decided not to return to Middle-earth. They stayed and made Ingwë their king. The Mindon Eldaliéva in Tirion was built in honor of him.
Ingwë was reckoned as High King of all the Eldalië, the Elves of the Great Journey, and because of this he is called Ingwë Ingweron; the “Chief of the Chieftains”. He lived in Taniquetil, ruling from beneath Manwë High King of Arda.
Ingwë never set foot on Middle-earth after he began living in Taniquetil. When the Vanyar took up arms in the War of Wrath and followed The Host of Valinor, Ingwë did not join them.
Imin was an Elf of Cuiviénen. He was best known as the first Elf to awake.
Imin was awoken in Cuiviénen by the divine will of Eru Ilúvatar in the Years of the Trees. Along with Tata and Enel, he awoke twelve other Elves who took him as their lord. From there he founded the Minyar which later was called the Vanyar. It is not known why he wasn’t chosen as ambassador to Valinor nor why he didn’t become his clan’s first king. His fate is unknown but presumably, he lived. His wife was Iminyë.
Who is the oldest Elf in Lord of the Rings?
As we can see from the text above, it is not easy to determine some of the Elves’ ages. However, it is pretty clear that Cirdan the Shipwright is the oldest Elf from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but as you can see, he is not the oldest Elf. If you’re asking yourself who were the oldest Elves, the answer is not straightforward as we would like. The first elf to awake was definitely Imin, but the oldest elf was Ingwë.
We have an article about how old are all the main characters in The Lord of the Rings, from youngest to oldest (hint, Elves are not the oldest characters in Tolkien’s legendarium).