Círdan, the Shipwright, was one of the eldest of the firstborn of Ilúvatar, and it is said that he "saw further and deeper than any other in Middle-earth".

The meaning of his original name, Nowë, was lost in archaic tongue and he was known to all by the title of his craft ("Cair" - ship; "dan" - wright). Like some others of Elwë's kin, but unlike most of the Sindar, he was silver-haired. He was very tall and most rare for elves, bearded.

Being one of the Teleri, in the First Age he waited upon the shore for his kinsman Elwë (Thingol) to return, until the willingness of Ulmo to allow the journey had passed. He was of the highest kin who didn't journey to Valinor though his yearning to see the light of Eressëa was very deep. When he voiced the desire to make the voyage with his own vessel, he was answered in his heart by the Valar. He was told to remain for a great work awaited him. When he replied in obedience, he saw a vision as of a white boat shining brightly from the sky. Thus he was granted foresight of Eärendil's great ship, Vingilot.

He dwelt with his people in Falas on the western shore. They called themselves the Eglath, the Forsaken, who did not journey to Valinor though it was their desire. They had settlements at the harbors of Eglarest and Brithombar.

But Círdan did not take the title of king, and his kinsman Thingol was counted as the high-king of his folk. There was ever friendship between them and Círdan supplied Thingol with pearls from the sea, of which the greatest was Nimphelos, the size of a dove's egg. With this Thingol rewarded the dwarves for the delving of Menegroth, the Thousand Caves.

After Morgoth had slain the Two Trees and returned to his stronghold of Angband, Círdan and his folk were assaulted by a vast Orc-host. They were driven to the very shore and Eglarest and Brithombar left in ruins. So great was the number of Orcs that Thingol was cut off and could not come to his aid. That was in the first of the Battles of Beleriand.

In the First Age, after the Flight of the Noldor, Círdan made alliance with Finrod who settled in Nargothrond to the east.

With Finrod's help Eglarest and Brithombar were rebuilt from their destruction.

In the year 473, when came the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, Círdan aided Finrod in the defense of Hithlum against the forces of Angband. As further attacks by Morgoth forced the Elves westward, they were sheltered in Círdan's Havens by the sea. For this he faced the wrath of Morgoth.

In the year 256, the Havens were besieged and fell, and most of his folk perished. Círdan led the remainder to dwell on the Isle of Balar. From then on, after counsel with Turgon of Gondolin, he built seven great ships that sailed west, but none returned, save Voronwë after much peril.

He became the teacher of Eärendil and worked in the building of Vingilot. From Eärendil's voyage came the aid of the Valar and the overthrowing of Morgoth in the War of Wrath.

After the War, Círdan made ready the boats for Elros and the Edain to sail to Númenor and provided each with one of the Eldar to steer.

He and Gil-galad became friends of Aldarion, son of Tar-Meneldur. In the Havens, Aldarion learned great skill in the building and handling of ships. So Aldarion came to his deep love of the sea and the building of Eämbar. The Númenóreans became mariners of great skill, to the saving of Elendil and his sons and the Faithful when the world was broken and the seas bent and Númenor was sunk.

Círdan was once the bearer of Narya, the Third Ring. In the Battle of the Last Alliance, Círdan and Elrond fought alongside Gil-galad. They saw him fall, and Elendil too. Together they urged Isildur to destroy the One Ring, there in Orodruin, but to no avail.

In the Third Age, Círdan became the lord over Lindon and the survivors of Gil-galad's people. He joined forces with the Dúnedain against Angmar in the Battle of Fornost. After the Northern Kingdom fell, he sheltered the sons of Arvedui who perished in the Bay of Forochel along with the Palantíri of Annuminas and Amon Sul. And it was with Círdan's help that Elrond defeated the Witch King of Angmar in the year 1975.

Círdan alone witnessed the landings of the Istari from the West. Seeing from the first Mithrandir as wisest, he entrusted Narya to him. Apart from him, only Elrond and Galadriel knew the nature of the Istari and who bore the Red Ring until the end of the Age. And so, in the year 2463, when the White Council was formed to oppose the shadow growing in the east at Dol Guldur, Círdan was one of the chosen.

After the defeat of Sauron, at the end of the Third Age, Círdan was ready at Mithlond, grey and bearded, with the ship for Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, and the Ringbearers, Frodo and Bilbo. With the sailing of that vessel on September 29 in the year 3021, Círdan, who first saw light at the mere of Cuiviénen, witnessed the end of the Days of the Elves. He remained at Mithlond until the sailing of the last ship into the West. His desire to see Valinor, postponed in the First Age, was fulfilled in the Fourth Age, the Days of Men.
Encyclopedia entry originally written by Loriel