Notes From The Woods

Discussion in 'Stories & Tales' started by Lina, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Lina Chief

    Lecture notes from the eight hobbit historical field trip

    About the woods of the Shire

    Let me tell yer a little about the woods of the Shire.

    As yer travel through our lovely lands, yer will find small pockets of trees and forested areas among the well-tended fields and gently sloped hills. Most notably we have the Bindbole Woods here in the north, between Rushock Bog and Greenfields. In the eastern part of Green Hill Country is the Woody End, near Woodhall.

    There are also several smaller wooded areas and copses strewn across the landscape, many of them too small ter warrant a name. After all, the woods of the Shire are generally on the small side. Some areas, like Woody Hall, may be densely forested, but the woods rarely cover a large piece of land.

    It wasn’t always so, though. I have heard tell that long, long ago, thousands of years before hobbits even came here, all them western lands were covered by a large, wondrous forest. Spreading from the sea in the west to far-off mountains in the east, the forest was dense, magnificent and full of mysterious life.

    What happened to this forest? Them say it withered and shrank over the years, not least when longshanks started cutting down the trees ter raise their armies. During one of them major wars way back in the day, when a darkness rose in the East, much of the forest was burned ter the ground.

    So today, we are left with our smaller woods, like Bindbole and the Woody End. Whose size, quite frankly, seem rather more suited fer us hobbits anyway.

    A cave, luckily without any wild animals! Any growling noises are probably from hungry hobbit stomachs. Probably.

    About forest life and crafting

    If yer travel through the Shire woods, yer will find them teeming with life. Squirrels hop around gathering nuts. Birds chirp all day, especially during the spring: Warblers, flycatchers, robins, swallows, and many more. During the night, yer can hear owls hooting and nightingales singing their sweet melodies.

    Yer will find conies, foxes and deer. Them are usually not hooting or singing. Although, some claim that during the spring, badgers come out and sing to the moon ter greet the warmer weather welcome.
    Them larger animals are very useful fer us hobbits, though. Although hobbits never hunt animals fer sport, they are both a good source fer food and hides, and as such quite necessary fer both cooking and leatherworking. Especially cony pies, one of me personal favourites.

    The forest is also a source of nuts and wild berries, and many hobbits can be found scouring the woods fer strawberries during the summer. Wild bees provide honey fer our biscuits. Wild mushrooms, like Shaggy Inkcaps, Penny Buns, Puffballs and Chanterelle, are always a treat on any decked table. Just make sure yer stay away from those mushrooms that may upset yer stomach.

    But still, the most obvious use us hobbits have from the woods are the trees.They provide timber fer our mills, burrows and fences, and wood fer our tools and weapons.

    The old ruins in Bindbole Woods

    About the ruins in the woods

    Across the Shire, yer will find old, crumbling ruins like the one in Bindbole Woods. The tower outside of Stock and the Bridgefields wall are other examples.

    These are the remnants of the old longshank kingdom Arnor, that once claimed these lands as its own. Them Arnorians built the roads and bridges through the Shire, and also the towers and structures littered across our lands.

    Why did them build such structures here? Sadly, our lands haven’t always been safe. And I believe the ruins here were old watch towers. From here, sentries from the old kingdom could keep a look out fer someone trying ter enter the lands with unfriendly purposes.

    Even to this day, there can be a sense of danger walking among the Shire trees. There may be the odd sound in the distance… a twig snapping, or the occasional heavy silence when it gets dark.

    And, of course, there are wild animals, like wolves, spiders and bears. Wolves in particular have been more active in the later years, coming ever closer to our villages. It is almost as if something stirs them up and makes them agitated.

    Some even claim ter have seen goblins wander between the trees. Perhaps them have returned ter have vengeance for their king who fell during the Battle of Greenfields, near three hundred years back?
    Still, for the most part, our woods are safe still. And that is, not least, because there is a group of hobbits who work ter keep our woods and boundaries safe.

    Miss Rubellita, a bounder, telling a story about woodcutters

    About the Bounders of the Shire

    Let me tell yer a little more about how the Bounders came ter be in the Shire. After all, I know many of yer work as bounders from time to time. To get into that, though, I’ll have to tell yer a little about the government of the Shire.

    Now, fer the most part, hobbit families manage their own affairs, be it to deal with apple-thieves or wolves in the forest. We do, however, have a few positions of leadership in the Shire. Most notably are the Thain in Tuckborough and the Mayor in Michel Delving.

    Now, what are their roles? As some will know, us hobbits follow what is called “The Rules”. These rules, ancient and just, are based on the laws of the old northern kingdom of Arnor I told yer of earlier. Around 1400 years ago, the king allowed two hobbits by the name of Marcho and Blanco to settle in these very lands. The king granted their request on the condition that hobbits acknowledge his rules. And so we do to this day, although no king has been seen after the old kingdom crumbled over a thousand years ago.

    However, in the absence of the king, we do have an authority representing him in The Shire. And this is the Thain. Now, while the Thain is formally the king’s representative, we hardly feel that in our daily lives. Us hobbits voluntarily follow The Rules of old, so there is no need fer the Thain ter act as a leader, unless there is a time of crisis when he can muster the hobbit militia. Thefts are rare, and over the centuries, no hobbit has ever taken the life of another.

    So in our everyday lives, we’re more affected by whatever the mayor in Michel Delving does. As yer will know, the Mayor is elected every seven years at the Free Fair in Midsummer. Our current Mayor, Will Whitfoot, is well underway in his seven-year term. The responsibilities of the mayor are basically these:
    First, he’s the postmaster of the messenger service. Second, he’s the First Shirriff of the Watch. And third, he has to attend the official banquets on our holidays.

    He is especially fond of this third duty, he is, Old Flourdumpling.

    But aye, being the First Shirriff of the Watch, the Mayor is in charge of the Shirriffs and Bounders. There are also three more Shirriffs in each of the four farthings, who are responsible for keeping peace among us hobbits. More often than not, this means gathering up a few stray animals or chasing the odd young apple-thief.

    The Shirriffs are helped by a group of hobbits patrolling our boundaries. They are the Bounders, who ensure that no outsiders cause trouble in the Shire. Them have no uniform, but put a feather in their cap ter mark their duty.

    The number of Bounders varies, based on the current need fer them. And I’m sad to say that in recent years, their numbers have been increasing. While most visitors to the Shire are friendly, I’m afraid not all come with good intentions. So the Bounders stay near our boundaries and wander the forests, ready ter turn hostile visitors away.

    Always being on the lookout fer trouble. Or the road to the nearest inn. Or a rock ter snooze behind.
    Thankfully, while them bounders may be tired at times, not all visitors to the Shire are hostile. Ellufs sometimes pass through our woods on their way west to the sea. Few hobbits have seen this, because them ellufs are said ter be careful not ter trip over sleeping Bounders who snore gently in the forest.

    But if yer enter the woods late at night, yer may hear soft songs and the distant jangling of bells. There may be a soft shimmering light up ahead. And just maybe yer may catch a glipse of them ellufs passing through our lands, and get a special tale ter tell during yer next inn visit.

    And with that note, I think it is about time ter finish the lectures of the night.


    The information about is based heavily on J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, especially the Lord of the Rings books. Also, I have looked at relevant entries on the Encyclopedia of Arda, Lord of the Rings Wiki, Wikipedia and The Tolkien Gateway. I have taken some creative liberties with the source material, but I hope it still stay somewhat within the spirit of Tolkien’s works.
    Freoda, Rowana, Lully and 3 others like this.
  2. Rubellita Member

    And here's the story as written by Uncle Peppy and told by me at the eighth Historical Fieldtrip:

    The forester and the tree, a fairytale.

    The old hobbit smiled at the children at his feet and blew another smoke-ring for them to cheer at and be amazed. A story they had demanded of him and he was thinking which one would please them the most.

    “Let me tell you the story about the forester up in yonder woods.
    Once upon a time, there lived a forester and his wife in a small burrow in the middle of the forest. They were quite happy, but their only regret was that they had no children, although they had been married for quite a long time.
    The forester made a living of chopping down trees deep inside the forest and sending the wood to the village for the woodworkers. There was an old and big tree next to his burrow and one day the forester thought: ‘Why walk all the way to the forest when I can also cut down this tree?’ So he lifted his big, sharp axe and started to swing it at the tree’s trunk. But he stopped it in mid-air.. There he heard a low, booming voice: ‘Nooooooo! Noooooo!’. The forester thought he was imagining things and again lifted the axe, but again ‘Noooooo!’ was heard and he noticed it came from the tree that he was about to cut down. It was not an ordinary tree, you see, it was enchanted.”

    The children moved about a bit uneasy, but demanded the old hobbit would continue.

    “The tree began to speak in a slow and booming voice: ‘If you do not cut me down, I will grant you a wish!’. The forester was thinking hard about this and decided to let the tree live. ‘I have one great wish, o Tree, I want to be father of a child’. The tree rattled its branches and said: ‘Look!’. Between it’s roots a sapling started to grow, it was one foot high and had one fruit, the size of an egg.
    ‘Take good care of this young plant and I will see if you are capable of tending a child as well’.
    So the forester watered the sapling and being a patient hobbit asked no more questions to the tree. Days passed, weeks passed, even months. The sapling did not grow much, but the fruit did. It went from egg size to apple size to big pumpkin size. The forester was proud of this beautiful fruit and tended to it every day. Then one day... the fruit burst open and inside there was a lovely baby hobbit boy! The forester called his wife and together they picked it up and gave it his name. The forester was so happy he hugged the tree! ‘I will never cut you down, I will never cut down any tree anymore!’. This made his wife worry ofcourse, for they needed money to buy food, for themselves and for their child. But the big old tree shook his branches and many of them were dead wood and dropped down. ‘Take these to market’ the low voice of the tree said ‘And I will tell my brethren to do the same for you’. So this is how this forester now got his wood from then on, and he told all the other foresters about this. So now you know, why foresters use the fallen branches in stead of cutting down the trees. And the trees make sure there are enough branches on the ground for them.”

    The children applauded merrily and cheered at the old hobbit. One of them needed to know: “But what happened to the baby boy that came out of the fruit?” The old hobbit smiled and said: “He grew up to be an old storytelling hobbit!”

    Uncle Peppy one day noticed that the forester profession in the Shire and beyond, gathers fallen branches and does not cut down entire trees. So he invented this story to explain what could be the reason for that.
    Lina, Freoda, Lully and 3 others like this.
  3. Freoda Member

    During the historical trip I spoke about some trees and wood the woodworkers use for their work.

    Currently the woodworkers use the wood from the following trees. Rowan, Ash, Yew, Lebethron, Black Ash, Ilex, Mallorn and Birch. I prepared information about three of them.

    I began with Rowan.
    It’s a slender tree with silvery-brown bark, that ‘’shines’’ while wet and roundish wide crown. In Forelithe the tree blossoms with tiny creamy white flowers, that grow in clusters. In Wedmath and Halimath the clusters change their colour, as now they are full of small brilliant red berries.
    They are eatable, however fresh berries are bitter and they cause that… ehm…nature will call you several times. Better leave the fresh ones for birds. They love them.
    However if you collect a lot of rowan berries, they can be made into compote, jelly, jam, a tangy syrup, a tart chutney, or juice, as well as wine and liqueur, or used for tea.
    The rowan wood is tough and strong and therefore usable for handles of tools, cart-wheels and planks.

    A tree with colourful bark with tones of purple and red on grey and always green, Yew.
    These trees should be very, very old, according to some legends. What is very important to remember is…
    If you should ever be near a Yew tree, do not allow your pony to eat the leaves, berries or the bark. This tree is very poisonous!
    Yew timber is heavy but very elastic and is used for bowls, furniture, cogs and wheels and parquete floors.
    The Big Folk uses it again for weapons, especially longbows. But not to speak only about weapons, the best lutes are made of yew.

    I heard that many see the Birch as a graceful and attractive tree. Therefore I chose it as my last tree.
    It has white and papery bark with black cracks or fissures and pale green triangular leaves, that become golden yellow in autumn.
    Birch has a number of uses, for wood, bark and sap.
    Furniture, carts, ploughs, gates and fences are often made of birch wood. The bark is used for tanning leather.
    And the sap… I heard it should be good as a kind of medicine. However what is more important…
    it can be brewed into… beer.
    Tibba, Spriggy, Lully and 4 others like this.

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