A Part of the Shire
"A Part of the Shire" is the title of the map that immediately follows the Prologue in The Fellowship of the Ring. Of all the maps in the published works of J.R.R. Tolkien, only Thrór's Map was made using a smaller scale, so the "Part of the Shire" map provides a wealth of geographic detail for the Shire not found anywhere else.
An Aid to the Story
The "Part of the Shire" map runs 60 miles north to south and stretches 105 miles east to west. Pieces (only) of all four Farthings, all of Buckland, and a sliver of land to the east of the Shire are shown. From the narrative's "point of view" the map allows the reader to trace the start of Frodo's journey to Rivendell, covering the trip from Chapter 3, "Three is Company", through part of Chapter 6, "The Old Forest" of Book I in The Fellowship of the Ring, and serves as a reference for the locations of events from Chapter 8, "The Scouring of the Shire" of Book VI in The Return of the King.
Details of the Shire
However, this map also reveals many points of interest beyond the necessities of the plot. Twenty-one towns and villages are plotted on the map, with arrows pointing towards five Shire habitations not shown (plus an arrow that points towards Bree). The entire courses of the Stock-brook, Thistle Brook, and Shirebourn River are shown, as well as sections of The Water, the Withywindle, the Brandywine (Baranduin), and an unnamed stream from the north that flows into the Bywater Pool (which may have been the Norbourn). The whole forested area of the Woody End is on the map as well as parts of Bindbole Wood and the Old Forest.
The villages on the map are indicated by very small black squares and rectangles clustered in groups. While reminiscent of buildings they probably do not represent the actual layout of the villages. The amount of "buildings" seems to indicate the relative size of the towns and villages shown but since no population numbers were ever given for any Shire town no quantitative judgments can be formed from this map.
In a 1965 letter to Dick Plotz (see Letter 276), Tolkien mentioned that there were only about 30 place names in the "Part of the Shire" map and that there were more in his map. If a proper map of the Shire were drawn up there would be quite a large number of places named. Unfortunately, no such map was ever published.
- On the "Part of the Shire" map, on the East Road west of the Three-Farthing Stone is the town of Waymoot. In the chapter "The Scouring of the Shire", this town (where the ruffians kept sheds) was named Waymeet. "Waymeet" is a more modern spelling of the older form, "Waymoot", which was Tolkien's preference in early drafts of The Return of the King. Though he ultimately modernised the name within the book itself, this map was never corrected, and still carries the older spelling.
- In the 1954 edition of The Fellowship of the Ring the letter 'o' in Bindbole was unclear and appeared to be the letter 'a'. The name was rendered at Bindbale in maps by Barbara Strachey and Karen Wynn Fonstad, in Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth, and even by Tolkien himself in a manuscript note when he prepared the document later known as Nomenclature.
- ↑ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
- ↑ Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 660
- ↑ Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. lvii