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Places in Middle-earth

Shire, The

Type: Kingdoms, Realms, Lands

Region: Bree/The Shire

Other Names Sûza

Location: A region of Eriador, mostly west of the Brandywine River, inhabited exclusively by hobbits; on the Great East Road, a day's ride west of Bree.

Description: For it was in the one thousand six hundred and first year of the Third Age that the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, set out from Bree; and having obtained permission from the high king at Fornost, they crossed the brown river Baranduin with a great following of Hobbits. They passed over the Bridge of Stonebows, that had been built in the days of the power of the North Kingdom and they took all the land beyond to dwell in, between the river and the Far Downs. All that was demanded of them was that they should keep the Great Bridge in repair, and all other bridges and roads, speed the king's messengers, and acknowledge his lordship.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Hobbits

The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and there the king had once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards, and woods.

Forty leagues it stretched from the Far Downs to the Brandywine Bridge, and fifty from the northern moors to the marshes in the south. The Hobbits named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living...

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Hobbits

The Shire was divided into four quarters, the Farthings already referred to, North, South, East, and West; and these again each into a number of folklands, which still bore the names of some of the old leading families, although by the time of this history these names were no longer found only in their proper folklands. Nearly all Tooks still lived in the Tookland, but that was not true of many other families, such as the Bagginses or the Boffins. Outside the Farthings were the East and West Marches: the Buckland...; and the Westmarch added to the Shire in S.R. 1462 [1452 per the Tale of Years, below].

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Of the Ordering of the Shire


Many Periannath migrate from Bree, and are granted land beyond Baranduin by Argeleb II.

circa 1630
They are joined by Stoors coming up from Dunland. ...

The Great Plague ... spreads north and west, and many parts of Eriador become desolate. Beyond the Baranduin the Periannath survive, but suffer great loss. ...

Bucca of the Marish becomes first Thain of the Shire.

Isumbras I becomes thirteenth Thain, and first of the Took line. The Oldbucks occupy the Buckland.

circa 2670
Tobold plants 'pipe-weed' in the Southfarthing. ...

Bandobras Took defeats an Orc-band in the Northfarthing.

... The Long Winter.... Great suffering and loss of life in Eriador.... Gandalf comes to the aid of the Shire-folk.

The Fell Winter. The Baranduin and other rivers are frozen. White Wolves invade Eriador from the North. ...

Bilbo returns to the Shire with the Ring. ...

... Being jealous and afraid of Gandalf [Saruman] sets spies to watch all his movements; and notes his interest in the Shire. He soon begins to keep agents in Bree and the Southfarthing. ...

circa 3000
... [Saruman's] spies report that the Shire is being closely guarded by the Rangers.

Bilbo's farewell feast. Gandalf suspects his ring to be the One Ring. The guard on the Shire is doubled. ...

Four Riders enter the Shire before dawn. ... A Black Rider comes to Hobbiton at nightfall. Frodo leaves Bag End. ...

Crickhollow and the Inn at Bree are raided in the early hours. Frodo leaves Bree. Gandalf comes to Crickhollow, and reaches Bree at night. ...

[The 'Travellers'] come to Bywater and rouse the Shire-folk.

Battle of Bywater, and Passing of Saruman. End of the War of the Ring.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: The Third Age

... King Elessar issues an edict that Men are not to enter the Shire, and he makes it a Free Land under the protection of the Northern Sceptre. ...

... King Elessar makes the Thain, the Master, and the Mayor Counsellors of the North-kingdom. ...

The Westmarch, from the Far Downs to the Tower Hills (Emyn Beraid), is added to the Shire by the gift of the King. Many hobbits remove to it.

The Return of the King, LoTR Appendix B, The Tale of Years: Later Events Concerning the Members of the Fellowship of the Ring


In his guide for translators, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings," Tolkien notes that Shire is from Old English scír, which "seems very early to have replaced the ancient Germanic word for a 'district.'" It is a common element in many county names in England.

The Annotated Hobbit, Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson, Ch 19, The Last Stage, Note 4

Contributors: Lyllyn 6.05.03
added quotes: Elena Tiriel 22May05, 29Oct05

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