The reckonings of Middle-earth



This article consolidates and extends the material presented by Professor Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings (LotR), concerning the calendars of Middle-earth to the start of the Fourth Age. Unless otherwise indicated, references are taken from LotR Appendix D.

Brief descriptions of the known calendars are given, together with evidence and details concerning how these may be related together. A month-by-month concordance between the modern, Gregorian calendar and the Shire and Stewards' Reckonings is also given.

For a full, day-by-day concordance for the Kings' Reckoning, Shire Reckoning, Stewards' Reckoning, New Reckoning and Calendar of Imladris, click here.

The peoples & the calendars

At the time of the War of the Ring, a number of calendars are known to have been in use in western Middle-earth.

AbbrevCalendarUsed by
GCGregorian calendarModern western
SRShire ReckoningHalflings of the Shire (variant used in Bree)
StRStewards' ReckoningMen of Gondor (also the common calendar for all Free Peoples)
CICalendar of ImladrisElves of Rivendell (variants used by Elves elsewhere)
CDwCalendar of the DwarvesDwarves of Erebor (variants possibly used elsewhere)

The Stewards' Reckoning had been introduced in TA 2060 to replace the earlier Kings' Reckoning (KR). The StR was itself superseded at the end of the TA by the New Reckoning, which then became the standard calendar throughout the Reunited Kingdom, excepting only the Shire.

It is not known if there was in those days an independent calendar of Rohan. In conversation with Aragorn, Éomer measures the passage of days with reference to the phases of the moon (LotR book 5 chapter II). In conversation with Hirgon of Gondor, Théoden appears to reckon in weeks (LotR book 5 chapter III), but is here possibly using the StR. Any calendar of the Éorlingas might have shown similarities with the Shire Reckoning.

The month names of the Shire Reckoning 'seem to have [been] picked up in antiquity from the Men of the Vales of Anduin.' The Men of Éorl had long dwelt in this region prior to their relocation to Rohan around TA 2500 (LotR Appendix A II).

We know little of the Dwarves' calendar other than that it began 'on the first day of the last moon of Autumn on the threshold of Winter', (The Hobbit chapter 3) and thus appears to have been lunar-based.

The Enemy
Some form of reckoning must also have been used by the orcs and other servants of Sauron, but of these no record survives.

Leap year adjustments

With the exception of the Elven lóa, exemplified by the CI, each of the known calendar systems divided the year into 12 months, with a number of 'extra' days. Leap adjustments are shown in parentheses: these were made every four years except the last year of a century (CI every twelve years).

CalendarDays (leap adjustments in parentheses)
CI1 + 54 + 72 + 54 + 3(6) + 54 + 72 + 54 + 1
KR1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 31 + 1(2) + 31 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1
StR1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1(2) + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1
SR1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 3(4) + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1
NR1 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 3(4) + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 30 + 1

The evidence

Appendix D to LotR contains (just) sufficient information to define each of the calendars with respect to the others, to the solar year, and hence also to our modern, Gregorian, calendar.

KR : solar year
"The Númenoreans ... adhered to the custom of beginning the year in mid-winter."

SR : solar year
"Mid-year's Day was intended to correspond as nearly as possible to the summer solstice."

The first day (yestarë) of the CI "corresponded more or less with Shire April [Astron] 6." Again, "some said ... that [Astron 6] was the Elves' New Year."

SR : KR & SR : StR
"The date ['March' 25 SR] was, however, March 25 in both Kings' and Stewards' Reckoning." Given the number of days in each of the first three months of SR, KR and StR (see above), these three calendars must all have begun on the same day.

"In the New Reckoning the year began on March 25 old style [Súlimë 25 KR]."

Months in the NR "... referred to periods beginning generally five days earlier than previously."

In the NR there "were 3 Enderi or Middle-days ... that corresponded with September 23, 24, 25 old style [ie with Yavannië 23, 24, 25 KR]."

"The fourteenth of the New Year [in the NR] … or if you like, the eighth day of April in the Shire reckoning" (LotR book 6 chapter IV). This is really a restatement of points 4 and 5: that the first day of the NR year was 'March' 25 KR, which was also Shire 'March' 25.


From this evidence, the calendars of Middle-earth can be absolutely referred to one another.

  1. KR, StR and SR began on the same day, at the Midwinter solstice. The middle day of each (SR 'Midyear's Day', StR and KR loendë) fell close to the Midsummer solstice.
  2. The NR calendar began 85 days later, on what was 'March 25' in KR, StR and SR.
  3. The CI year began 11 days later again, on SR 'April' (Astron) 6.

It remains only to relate these reckonings to our own, Gregorian, calendar. The dates of the Midwinter and Midsummer solstices are presently December 21 and June 21, respectively (N Pennick, Runic Astrology, Aquarian Press 1990, p 134-5). These dates shift slightly but progressively due to the precession of the equinoxes: our celebration of Christmas on December 25 recalls a time when this date marked the Midwinter solstice.

If we align the first days of KR, StR and SR with December 21, then the middle days of each calendar fall correctly on the Midsummer solstice, June 21. Tolkien's note that 'our New Year's Day corresponded more or less to the Shire January [Afteryule] 9' appears to contradict the proposed alignment, under which January 1 GC falls on SR Afteryule 11. However, Tolkien is here back-calculating from the Midsummer solstice, and appears simply to be in error.


A month-by-month concordance follows for the Shire and Steward's Reckonings, with the first day in each month equated to its equivalent in the Gregorian calendar. Leap year adjustments are shown in parentheses.

For a full, day-by-day concordance for the Kings' Reckoning, Shire Reckoning, Stewards' Reckoning, New Reckoning and Calendar of Imladris, click here.

The SR and StR calendars are chosen as being of greatest interest to general readers of LotR. As previously mentioned, the StR was the common reckoning of free Middle-earth at the close of the Third Age. However, 'the Shire Reckoning and dates are the only ones of importance for the narrative of the War of the Ring. All the days, months, and dates are in the Red Book translated into Shire terms, or equated with them in notes.'

In fact, in preparing his translation of the Red Book, Tolkien further 'translated' the SR month names to their closest modern equivalent, rather than converting the dates themselves. In the following table, the SR dates are thus also given in their 'LotR form'. For example, SR Afteryule 1 equates to our December 22, but would have been 'translated' by Tolkien as 'January 1'.

Shire ReckoningGregorian calendar 
LotR form
2 YuleDecember 212 Yule
Afteryule 1December 22'January' 1
Solmath 1January 21'February' 1
Rethe 1February 20'March' 1
Astron 1March 22 (21)'April' 1
Thrimidge 1April 21 (20)'May' 1
Forelithe 1May 21 (20)'June' 1
1 LitheJune 20 (19)1 Lithe
Midyear's DayJune 21 (20)Midyear's Day
(Overlithe)(June 21)(Overlithe)
2 LitheJune 222 Lithe
Afterlithe 1June 23'July' 1
Wedmath 1July 23'August' 1
Halimath 1August 22'September' 1
Winterfilth 1September 21'October' 1
Blotmath 1October 21'November' 1
Foreyule 1November 20'December' 1
1 YuleDecember 201 Yule
Stewards' ReckoningGregorian
yestarëDecember 21
Narvinyë 1December 22
Nénimë 1January 21
Súlimë 1February 20
tuilérëMarch 22 (21)
Víressë 1March 23 (22)
Lótessë 1April 22 (21)
Nárië 1May 22 (21)
löendë (2 enderi)June 21 (June 20-21)
Cermië 1June 22
Urimë 1July 22
Yavannië 1August 21
yáviérëSeptember 20
Narquelië 1September 21
Hísimë 1October 21
Ringarë 1November 20
mettarëDecember 20