Leaves by Travis

A Re-Imagined Middle-earth Map: "Difficult" but not Impossible.

Edit: It was recently revealed that JRRT gave the latitude of Minas Tirith as Ravenna, Umbar as Cyprus, and the edge of Far Harad as Jerusalem. It would seem this would contradict my depiction below...except that JRRT also said in Roverandom that the earth shifted on its axis sometime between the legendary ages and the modern age.

JRRT gave other latitude correlations in his Letters: Rivendell and Hobbiton = Oxford, Minas Tirith = Florence, the Mouths of Anduin and Pelargir = Troy. I suspect that if you graphed all six of the latitudes JRRT gave (Oxford, Ravenna/Florence, Troy, Cyprus, and Jerusalem), that it wouldn't all match up. And so that gives some room for interpretation. I would select an angle of axial shift to give the closest match between the latitudes and those places, while matching the topographical correspondences which I lay out on this webpage, such as the Entwash being identical to the Danube.

Of course, another way of going about it would be to strictly line up the latitudes JRRT gave, and completely ignore how the topography seems to match up with Europe, as described below. That would be a valid approach, and I could map that too, but this webpage proposes a different solution. It's requires a somewhat "re-imagined" vision of Middle-earth...or at least an acceptance of the premise that the hand-drawn maps which are in the Red Book are no more spatially accurate than hand-drawn maps of the Byzantine era.

"I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agreement between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my map a little more possible. But that would only have made more trouble with human history.
—JRRT Letter #169

"It would be difficult to fit the lands and events (or ’cultures’) into such evidence as we possess, archaeological or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly stated to have been in this region. I could have fitted things in with greater verisimilitude  if the story had not become too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me."
—JRRT Letter #211

"I have no doubt that in the area envisaged by my story (which is large) the 'dress' of various peoples, Men and others, was much diversified in the Third Age, according to climate, and inherited custom. As was our world, even if we only consider Europe and the Mediterranean and the very near 'East' (or South)"
—Letter #211

"The action of the story takes place in the North-west of ’Middle-earth’, equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean." JRRT Letter #294

This map can be printed off and overlaid with the present-day map of Europe. Or click on the photo and then click on the side arrows to toggle back and forth between the Third Age map and the Sixth Age map. For example, watch the Entwash and the Danube as you toggle back and forth. (Update: Or better yet, click here to see a page where you can move a slider back and forth over the two images.)

This map is based on a map from Shepherd's Atlas:

For the details and reasoning, see "Geographic Equivalencies". Someday I'd like to convert the curved projection to an Equirectangular Projection, which is implied in JRRT's maps.

Other nigglings:

Cover artwork and Quenya title translation (Uswë Númenorello) for the game scenario Escape from Númenor.
(The drawing is an example of how other amateurs might make illustrations. If one sticks to a sort of patterned style instead of aiming for a photo-realistic style, then it doesn't require professional artistic skill to make an evocative picture.)

"A History of Story-telling Games and Other Imaginary Depictions of Middle-earth" in Other Minds Magazine Issue 10.
(The article isn't a parody. It's an offered framework for the different versions of Middle-earth. It also aims to encourage individuals to make their own vision of Middle-earth.)