I read this article with interest - in short, a working copy of the Middle Earth map was recently discovered and acquired by Oxford's Bodleian Library:

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This map looks fascinating but does this clarify or change any details about the Middle Earth universe that were previously unclear or assumed as conventional wisdom?

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    This question might be too broad. Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:41
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    – ibid
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 4:48
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    It looks very much like the amended map that was first (at least where I first saw it) published in the hardcopy of Unfinished Tales. The notes seem to fall into two categories: annotations on how a fully annotated version should look and some remarks on climate, geography and vegetation. Can't remember Eyn Vorn, though, and wasn't Tumladen originally around Gondolin in Beleriand?
    – Marakai
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 5:38
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    Eryn Vorn is present on other maps. I am certain that Tumladen is too. The "other" Tumladen was indeed the flat plain in the Encircling Mountains in Beleriand where Gondolin was located. Commented May 4, 2016 at 6:01
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    It is not actually newly discovered. As you can see it from other comments, it was discovered back in 2008, after the death of Pauline Baynes (illustrator). It was sold for £60K in October 2015. Annotations made with green ink are belong to Tolkien's himself but unfortunately I couldn't find a good HQ version of it. There is this though... If you look hard enough, you might even read what it says.
    – burcu
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 6:38

1 Answer 1


A couple of small things

As noted in the linked article, this is a working copy of the map made by Pauline Baynes; this map was first published in 1970. So the things of interest are Tolkien's notes to her, which I'll attempt to summarize.

The new information is:

  • Corsairs had red sails with black star or eye

  • Numenorean (Gondor) ships black and silver

  • Rhun and Mordor had many wild kine and horses

    We knew that there were kine in Rhûn; Denethor says as much:

    Vorondil father of Mardil hunted the wild kine of Araw in the far fields of Rhûn.

    Return of the King Book V Chapter 1: "Minas Tirith"

    But we didn't know about the wild horses, or about any animal life in Mordor

  • Minas Tirith is about at latitude of Ravenna (but is 900 miles east of Hobbiton, more near Belgrade)

    Bottom of the map (400 miles) is about at latitude of Jerusalem. Umbar & city of Corsairs - about that of Cypres.

    Though these perhaps could have been determined from knowing the latitude of Hobbiton, as far as I know these findings were not previously published

  • Elven ships could be grey

And things we already knew:

  • The place names were all known at least from when the map was published in 1970
  • The Westron translation of Eryn Vorn ("dark wood" or Blackwood) was known; it was published at least in A Reader's Companion
  • That Hobbiton is about at the latitude of Oxford was revealed by Tolkien in Letter 294:

    If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence.

    The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 294: To Charlotte and Dennis Plimmer. February 1967

    It has been known at least since The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien was first published in 1981

  • We already knew that Elven ships were white

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