(The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, letter #211, 14th October 1958, Michaelmas term)

The usual way to interpret this quote is to suppose, like Michael Martinez did, is suppose Tolkien meant that it happened 6,000 years before some time around that of the writing of the letter. But what if there is a different way to read it? Maybe he meant that it occurred 6,459 years, the length of the Second and Third Ages together if the Third ended with the fall of Barad-dûr, TA3019, before the present time. 1958 AD-6,459 years is 4502 BC. This could be pretty convenient for calendrical purposes as the Fourth Age would begin in 4500 BC. In the proleptic Gregorian calendar the next century years in which the leap year is skipped are 4301 BC, 4201 BC, etc (not 4300, 4200 etc as there was no 0 BC). These would be equivalent to the years 200, 300, etc in the New Reckoning.

4502 BC is also one of the very rare years around this time in which the phases of the Moon , the solstices, and Venus in the evening sky match up with what was written in the books.

Now if we suppose that Martinez was right about the length of the Fourth Age, 2500 years, then the Fifth would begin in 2000 BC. This would be perfect for aligning the Shire calendar with the Gregorian. Not only that, it is right about the time in the Ussher chronology that Noah died and Abram was born (some sites claim that it is the exact year).

Just a few thoughts.

Have you seen the articles I wrote in Beyond Bree on these matters? Specifically the September and November 2011 issues? In the first one I conclude that, for astronomical reasons, the only viable dates for the Fall of Barad-Dur are 4000, 4008, 4016, 4494, 4502, and 4510 BC. In the next I show the correspondences for the calendar dates are anchored to Christmas; again for astronomical reasons. That is, 1 and 2 Yule are equal to Christmas Eve and Day. This follows the old English calendar which had the year begin on December 25. And that in leap years Mid-Year’s Day falls on our own Midsummer’s Day (June 24). All of this can be proven by the moon phases, and that of Venus, as written in the books. ]]>