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The Shire was the homeland of the majority of the hobbits in Middle-earth. It was located in the northwestern portion of Middle-earth, in the northern region of Eriador, within the borders of the Kingdom of Arnor.

By the late Third Age it was one of the few heavily-populated areas left in Eriador. Its name in Westron was Sûza, "Shire," or Sûzat, "The Shire." Contrary to popular misconception, the Shire was not the birthplace of Frodo Baggins, as he was born in Buckland, which at the time was not formally part of the Shire despite being colonized by Shire hobbits.

At the end of the Third Age, Saruman (known then as Sharkey) tried to take control of it for a very short period, but was killed in the Battle of Bywater, which ended the War of the Ring.



The Shire was settled by hobbits in the year TA 1601 (Year 1 in Shire Reckoning). The hobbits (who originally lived in the Vales of Anduin) had migrated west over the Misty Mountains in the centuries before, and lived in Dunland and parts of the depopulated Arnor splinter-realms Cardolan and Rhudaur before coming to the Shire. It has been speculated that the hobbits had originally moved west to escape the evils of Mirkwood, and the shadow of Dol Guldur.

The Shire was a part of Arthedain and as such a part of Arnor. The hobbits were granted official permission from King Argeleb II at Norbury to settle in the Shire, which had become depopulated in the Great Plague, and was seen as the King's hunting grounds. The hobbits considered themselves to be subjects of the King, and sent contingents of archers to the great battles Arthedain fought against the Witch-king of Angmar. For reasons unknown, Angmar did not attack the Shire after it conquered Arthedain. Tales claim that some hobbit bowmen were involved at the Battle of Fornost, though no tales of it exist in the records of Men. After the fall of Arthedain in TA 1974, the Shire became in effect a free land, with the Thain's office replacing royal authority.

Third Age and beyond

The Shire's history was mostly peaceful, but as Sauron's return neared evil began to return to Eriador. In TA 2747 a band of Orcs led by Golfimbul invaded the Shire and were met and defeated by Bandobras Took at the Battle of Greenfields. In TA 2912 White Wolves attacked Eriador during a terrible winter, leading to famine and the death of many Hobbits.

The Shire's peace was next disturbed by events stemming from Bilbo Baggins' acquisition of the One Ring. In SR 1418 the Shire was first visited by the nine Ringwraiths who went as far as Hobbiton, after which the Shire was enslaved by Saruman via his puppet Lotho Sackville-Baggins. It was liberated with the help of Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin after the end of the Quest of the Ring. After Aragorn's return as the King of Arnor and Gondor, the Shire became a protected enclave inside the Reunited Kingdom. Aragorn soon thereafter issued an edict that forbade the entrance of Men into the Shire and confirmed the settlement of Buckland.

In FO 31 Aragorn granted the Westmarch to the Hobbits.


The fields of the Shire

The Brandywine River bounded the Shire from the east (Shire hobbits also lived in Buckland, which lay east of the river and west of the Hedge protecting Buckland from an invasion from the Old Forest; however, Buckland was not formally recognized as part of the Shire until after the War of the Ring, when it was given officially to the Shire by Aragorn II Elessar. From the north and the west, the Shire had no topographical borders, rather it was bounded by vague geographical features such as the Tower Hills.

The Shire was quite densely populated in certain areas, with many villages and a few towns, but it still was open enough to allow for wide forested areas and marshes. The total amount of land calculated in square miles was 21,400, which likely excluded the Westmarch.[2]


As stated by J.R.R. Tolkien, the climate of the Shire was very similar to that of England; cool, but with not overly cold winters, and with fairly warm summers. Rainfall was fairly frequent, with snow being much more rare. Usually, the Shire was warm enough that the rivers did not freeze over, except during the Fell Winter.

According to computer models by the University of Bristol, the average temperature of Hobbiton was about 7.0 degrees Celsius, which confirms Tolkien's writings of the Shire having a climate rather like England. [3]

Government and defense

A view of Hobbiton

The Shire was originally divided in four Farthings (Northfarthing, Southfarthing, Eastfarthing, and Westfarthing), but Buckland and later the Westmarch were added to it in the Fourth Age. Within the Farthings there were some smaller, unofficial divisions such as family lands; nearly all the Tooks lived in the Tookland around Tuckborough, for instance. In many cases a hobbit's last name indicates where their family came from: Samwise Gamgee's last name derived from Gamwich, where the family originated. Outside the Farthings, Buckland itself was named for the Oldbucks (later Brandybucks). See further Regions of the Shire.

The Shire's small size, relative lack of importance in terms of geographical position, natural resources, or even concerning hobbits themselves made it too modest an objective for conquest from the more dominant races of the East and South. More importantly, the Shire was guarded and protected by the Dúnedain Rangers, who patrolled the borders and kept out intruders, though Tolkien notes that many of the current hobbits of the Shire had grown so accustomed to this that they had forgotten their protectors altogether.

However the limited government of the Shire did hold its own voluntary police force known as Shirriffs that helped to keep the Shire safe, usually from trespassing beasts and collecting lost farm animals, rather than from enemy forces. The only foreigners to enter the Shire were the Dwarves travelling on the Great East Road that ran through the Shire to and from their mines in the Blue Mountains, and the occasional Elves in wandering companies on their way to the Grey Havens. Despite this, two battles were fought in the Shire, the Battle of Greenfields, and the Battle of Bywater. The Shire was also attacked by White Wolves in TA 2911 during the Fell Winter, prompting the use of the Horn-call of Buckland.

The Shire derived its laws from the authority of the King at Fornost. Five years after Fornost fell, the Hobbits appointed a Thain to continue the authority of the missing king. The title of Thain was hereditary, and passed through the Oldbuck family and then switched to the head of the Took clan in Tuckborough. The Thain commanded the Shire muster during emergencies and was also Master of the Shire-moot but otherwise had only a symbolic role.

The Mayor of Michel Delving (also called the Mayor of the Shire) elected once every 7 years, became the most important official in the Shire. Most hobbits regarded Michel Delving as the principal town of the Shire, particularly with regard to its government. The Mayor was also the Postmaster and the First Shirriff for the whole Shire.

The Master of Buckland at Brandy Hall ruled over Buckland, though still subject to the Thain. His authority was also recognised by many in the Marish. Later in the Fourth Age, the Warden of Westmarch was responsible for the administration of the newly granted land west of the Shire.


The Shire was a small but beautiful and fertile land, beloved by its inhabitants. The Hobbits had an extensive agricultural system in the Shire, but only a little light industry such as milling. Various supplies could be found in the Shire, including cereals, fruit, wood and pipe-weed (a favourite treat of Hobbits). Its relatively peaceful existence during the perilous period preceding the defeat of Sauron can be attributed to the vigilance of Gandalf and Rangers of the North led by Aragorn who used daring tactics to keep evil at bay. However when these set out to a distant war, the Shire became essentially defenseless, which led to its capture. But the damage which Saruman caused by forced industrialization was undone by the Hobbits' efforts. The Shire was restored with soil from Lothlórien, given to Sam by Galadriel. The year SR 1420 was called The Great Year of Plenty[4] and was considered by the inhabitants of the Shire to be the most productive and prosperous year in their history.

The industrialization of the Shire may have been based on Tolkien's witnessing of the extension of the Industrial Revolution to rural Warwickshire during his youth, and especially the deleterious consequences thereof. The rebellion of the hobbits and the restoration of the pre-industrial Shire may be interpreted as a prescription of voluntary simplicity as a remedy to the problems of modern society.


Map of the Shire from The Lord of the Rings Online; Southfarthing not included

On J.R.R. Tolkien's maps, the Shire was located at about the same position as England was on modern European maps and has been cited as an example of Deep England ideology (of course, England being on an island while Shire is inside the continent). Throughout the narrative, Tolkien also implies numerous points of similarity between the two, such as weather, agriculture and dialect. One can also see England as Tolkien's source of inspiration for the shire in its very name ("Shire" is a synonym of "county" see: English Shire).

Nearby locations

Portrayal in adaptations

Video games

The Shire is depicted in the following video games:

See also

Panoramic view of Shire


Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ሽሬ
Arabic شاير
Armenian Սհիրե
Azerbaijani Qraflıq
Belarusian Cyrillic графства
Bengali ষ্হিরে
Bosnian Okrug
Bulgarian Cyrillic Шире
Catalan Comarca
Chinese (Hong Kong) 夏爾
Chuvash Шире
Croatian Okrug
Czech Kraj
Danish Herredet
Dutch De Gouw
Esperanto Graflando
Estonian Maakond
Finnish Kontu
French La Comté
Georgian შირე
German Das Auenland
Greek Ο Σάιρ
Gujarati ષ્હિરે
Hebrew הפלך
Hindi शायर
Hungarian A Megye
Icelandic Skíri
Italian La Contea
Irish Gaelic Sír
Japanese シャイア
Kannada ಶೈರ್
Kazakh Сһіре (Cyrillic) Shire (Latin)
Korean 샤이어
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Сhирэ
Latin Scira
Latvian Širė
Lithuanian Širės
Macedonian Cyrillic Шире
Manx Sheer
Marathi ष्हिरे
Mongolian Cyrillic Сhирэ
Nepalese सायर
Norwegian Hobsyssel
Old English Scīr
Pashto صهیرې
Persian شایر
Portuguese (Brazil) O Condado
Portuguese (Portugal) O Chire
Romanian Comitatul
Russian Шир
Sanskrit ष्हिरे
Scottish Gaelic Siorrachd
Serbian Округ (Cyrillic) Okrug (Latin)
Sinhalese ෂ්හිරෙ
Slovak Grófstvo
Slovenian Šajerska
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) La Comarca
Swedish Fylke
Tajik Cyrillic Сҳире
Tamil ஷ்ஹிரெ
Telugu షైర్
Thai ไชร์
Ukrainian Cyrillic Шайр
Urdu شائر
Uzbek Чире ? (Cyrillic) Shirin (Latin)
Vietnamese Quận
Welsh Sir
Yiddish תהירע
Places of Middle-earth and Arda

Middle-earth Locations:


Arnor | Dunland | Ettenmoors | Forochel | Forodwaith | Gondor | Harad | Ithilien | Khand | Lindon | Minhiriath | Mordor | Rhovanion | Rhûn | Rohan | The Shire

Forests & Mountains:

Amon Dîn | Amon Hen | Amon Lhaw | Caradhras | Emyn Muil | Erebor | Fangorn Forest | High Pass | Iron Hills | Lórien | Mirkwood | Mount Doom | Mount Gundabad | Old Forest | Tower Hills | Weathertop


Angband | Barad-dûr | Bree | Caras Galadhon | Dol Guldur | Fornost | Hornburg | Isengard | Minas Morgul | Minas Tirith | Orthanc | Osgiliath | Rivendell | Umbar | Utumno


Argonath | Buckland | Cair Andros | Dagorlad | Dead Marshes | Enedwaith | Fords of Isen | Gap of Rohan | Grey Havens | Weathertop

The rest of Arda:

Aman | Dark Land | Land of the Sun | Númenor | Tol Eressëa | Valinor

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  1. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Thematic Maps, "Languages"
  2. The Atlas of Middle-earth, Regional Maps, "The Shire"
  4. The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), "The Third Age"