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Discussing: Geographical Features of the Shire

Geographical Features of the Shire

Anybody happen to know when the Causeway was built, that protects the Marish from the Brandywine flooding? Thanks, Lin

 

 

Re: Geographical Features of the Shire

Lin, I haven't been able to find anything definitive on this. The best I could do is make a guess based on other factors. In the Prologue of LotR Tolkien noted that
The habit of building farmhouses and barns was said to have begun among the inhabitants of the Marish down by the Brandywine.
He went on to say
...the folk of the Marish, and of Buckland, east of the River, which they afterwards occupied, came for the most part later into the Shire up from south-away;... It is probable that the craft of building, as many other crafts beside, was derived from the Dúnedain. But the Hobbits may have learned it direct from the Elves, the teachers of Men in their youth.
So I think the knowledge of such constructions as a causeway could have been known to them already when they migrated to the Marish, though it is also possible that they learned it subsequent to settling there. It's implicit in the appendicies that the Periannath had dealings with the Northern Dúnedain, at least until the northern kingdom ended. One bad springtime flood could have brought the inhabitants of the Marish aid from the Dúnedain, which could easily have included the construction of the causeway. Either way, it would be easy to imagine its being built prior to the ending of the Northern Kingdom, when the hobbits began to rule themselves under a thain:
The first Shire-thain was one Bucca of the Marish, from whom the Oldbucks claimed descent. He became Thain in 379 of our reckoning (1979).
That would make my hypothetical time frame from c. 1630 to 1979 (SR 379 to 728 *if my math is correct) Note that the appendicies have the Oldbucks occupying Buckland in TA 2340 (SR 1089). I suppose it is possible that the causeway was build sometime in between the ending of the Northern Kingdom and the time the Oldbucks moved to Buckland. The appendicies do note that in the peace that followed the defeat of Angmar the hobbits prospered, and the building of the causeway could have contributed to that by insuring against springtime floods. The other time that springs to mind is this:
TA 2758-9: The Long Winter follows. Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador and Rohan. Gandalf comes to the aid of the Shire-folk.
The reason this strikes me as a possible time is that the melting of the winter snows would have meant a rise in the river, with the resultant flooding and loss of life. Gandalf might reasonably have assisted the hobbits with advice on the construction of the causeway. The construction of the causeway would have meant that following the Fell Winter of TA 2911, the inhabitants of the Marish would have been protected from the floods that winter's snows would have produced (complete with ice jams on the Brandywine). But all of this is pure speculation on my part. I'll continue to look for any tid bit of information in Tolkien's various writings that might narrow this down for you, but for now I'd say you are free to create whatever scenario or timeframe that suits the story you're writing. HTH ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Geographical Features of the Shire

Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Nessime. I would like to attribute the building of the causeway to Bucca, in between the time of the defeat of the King of Angmar and Bucca's being elected Thain. I thought that his leadership when the Shire was undergoing great troubles (I have sifted the Prologue and Appendices until I think I understand it to say that trouble and war swept over the Shire after the Northern kingdom fell, and peace and prosperity returned when the King of Angmar was defeated, what, a year later?) and directing the building of the causeway would be great incentive to elect him Thain out of all the other chieftains available for the choice... Sound plausible? Lin

 

 

Re: Geographical Features of the Shire

Sound plausible?
Quite, though I have a couple of questions on details.
(I have sifted the Prologue and Appendices until I think I understand it to say that trouble and war swept over the Shire after the Northern kingdom fell, and peace and prosperity returned when the King of Angmar was defeated, what, a year later?)
Yes, I think that a fair enough reading of it, though I'm not sure how greatly the Shire was troubled by the war with the Witch-king. The Prologue states:
To the last battle at Fornost with the Witch-lord of Angmar they sent some bowmen to the aid of the king,..[In] that war the North Kingdom ended; and then the Hobbits took the land for their own, and they chose from their own chiefs a Thain to hold the authority of the king that was gone. There for a thousand years they were little troubled by wars, and they prospered and multiplied after the Dark Plague (S.R. 37[TA 1636-7) until the disaster of the Long Winter and the famine that followed it. Many thousands then perished, but the Days of Dearth (1158-60 [TA 2758-9]) were at the time of this tale long past and the Hobbits had again become accustomed to plenty.
It seems that the time following the plague, which actually occured some three hundred years prior to the fall of the Witch-king, was when the hobbits at least began to prosper, and I haven't seen any reference to the wars actually entering the Shire. I had always thought that the sending of the bowmen to the Battle of Fornost was done out of respect for the lordship of the king and not due to any direct threat to the Shire; but it's possible I missed a reference that would clarify that point (please lob something at me if I did ). But the "thousand [plus] years" between the plague and the Long Winter (according to the dates in the appendicies) does correspond perfectly with the narrative in the Prologue. It's easy enough to imagine that the borders of the Shire might have experienced trouble - I wonder when the Bounders were first formed? The narrative in the Prologue on the ordering of the Shire states that the Bounders had never been so busy as they were around the time of Bilbo's party, but that could be a relative statement. Do you think Bucca might have something to do with their organization? At any rate, you're correct about the time frame; according to the Tale of Years it was the year after the end of the North-kingdom that the Witch-king was defeated at Fornost.
1974 End of the North-kingdom. The Witch-king over-runs Arthedain and takes Fornost. 1975 Arvedui drowned in the Bay of Forochel... The Witch-king defeated at the Battle of Fornost, and pursued to the Ettenmoors. He vanishes from the North.
It's worth noting that Tolkien wrote that the Shire was "little troubled by wars". That doesn't have to mean that they were completely untouched by it - and little troubled could also be a relative term. To peace-loving hobbits, any trouble might be more than enough, giving Bucca the opportunity to display those leadership qualities. ~Nessime

 

 

Re: Geographical Features of the Shire

It's worth noting that Tolkien wrote that the Shire was "little troubled by wars". Yes, that was what the Prologue said, but Appendix A has a little more information. In the section entitled The North-kingdom and the Dunedain, after the description of the loss of Arvedui, it says: The Shire-folk survived, though war swept over them and most of them fled into hiding. To the help of the king they sent some archers who never returned; and others went also to the battle in which Angmar was overthrown--Lin's note: Think of the possibilities!--(of which more is said in the annals of the South). Afterwards int he peace that followed the Shire-folk ruled themselves and prospered. They chose a Thain... etc. So I think the notes about being "little troubled by wars" is a reference to the time after the Witch-king was overthrown. Hmmm. I wonder if Bucca went to the battle in which Angmar was overthrown and then returned to become Thain a few years later... got possibilities... Lin

 

 

Re: Geographical Features of the Shire

Appendix A has a little more information...
Ahhhh! Thank you for pointing the way to that line. I completely missed it - and the most embarassing part is that it's just prior to another line that I had looked at.
So I think the notes about being "little troubled by wars" is a reference to the time after the Witch-king was overthrown.
Quite possible. There are times when I have to write down the events Tolkien mentions in a particular narrative and then fix the dates of each so I can figure out the correct time frames - you notice how he seems to jump around a bit in the Prologue, speaking of some events that occurred before the fall of Angmar and others that happened after, but not neccessarily in that order? This is why I love a good timeline. It sounds like you have some good ideas going with this one. I'll be interested in reading it when you are ready. ~Nessime

 

 

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