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The Shire
(Meaning a land granted as a fiefdom and of ordered government, from the Old English word scír)

The Shire
Artist ©

History: During the third age in the year 1601, or year 1 by Shire-Reckoning, the Shire was founded by the Fallohide brothers Marcho and Blanco. They were originally from the town of Bree where both Hobbits and Men had lived, but after the pair acquired permission from King Argeleb II, they led a group of Hobbits to settle in the lands between the Brandywine River and the Far Downs in the west, which was part of his domain. Among the terms that the King asked for in return were that the Hobbits would acknowledge his rule, and repair the bridges and the roads.
In 1979 by Shire-Reckoning there was the absence of a king, and so in its place the Hobbits chose a ruling Thain of its own to hold authority over the Shire. Apart from the Thain there was also the Mayor who was an officially elected representative and eventually became to be recognised as the only real government of the Shire.

Geography: Situated in the northwest of Middle Earth in the land of Eriador, up until the end of the Third Age, the Shire was roughly 40 leagues (120 miles) east-to-west and 50 leagues (150 miles) north-to-south. At the beginning of the Fourth Age however the size increased to incorporate the East and West March, granted as a gift by King Aragorn II Elessar.
The Shire is split into 4 parts known as the North, East, South and West Farthings, and in each Farthing there were to be found the Hobbit families that traditionally lived there. For instance, Tooks were generally in the West, in Tookland, whereas the Brandybucks were typically to the East, in Buckland
The landscape of the Shire is relatively flat with only small hills, green and perfect for agriculture, other than the larger Hills of Scary to the North-East where stone could be quarried, the chalky downs to the West and the few rivers running through the land. These are The Water, starting in the North Moors and flowing through Hobbiton and Bywater, and the rivers Shirebourn, Stockbrook and Thistle Brook which all had sources located in the Green Hill Country. All of the rivers were tributaries of the Brandywine River (also known as the River Baranduin by the elves).

Contributed by Gollum

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