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Places in Middle-earth

Greenway, The

Type: Roads, Lanes, Ways

Region: Arnor/Eriador/Lindon

Other Names
The (Great) North-South Road
The Road between the Two Kingdoms
The Road from Arnor to Gondor
The (Great) Royal Road
The (Old) North Road
The Great Road
the horse-road

Location: Name in Bree in the later Third Age for the little-used north-south road running from Fornost to Tharbad, especially the stretch near Bree; it is the Eriador segment of the ancient Great North-South Road — see that entry for a description and history of the other segments.

Table of Contents:



It was the great Númenórean road linking the Two Kingdoms, crossing the Isen at the Fords of Isen and the Greyflood at Tharbad and then on northwards to Fornost; elsewhere called the North-South Road.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 2, Cirion and Eorl and the Friendship of Gondor and Rohan: Notes, Note 32

[The Prancing Pony] had been built long ago when the traffic on the roads had been far greater. For Bree stood at an old meeting of ways; another ancient road crossed the East Road just outside the dike at the western end of the village, and in former days Men and other folk of various sorts had travelled much on it. ... But the Northern Lands had long been desolate, and the North Road was now seldom used: it was grass-grown, and the Bree-folk called it the Greenway.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 9, At the Sign of the Prancing Pony


[1-2 III, after the Last Alliance:]
After the fall of Sauron, Isildur ... returned to Gondor. ... but the greater part of the army of Arnor returned to Eriador by the Númenórean road from the Fords of Isen to Fornost.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 1, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields

[Early Third Age:]
[Pipe-weed] grows abundantly in Gondor ... From that land it must have been carried up the Greenway [to the Shire] during the long centuries between the coming of Elendil and our own day.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Prologue, Concerning Pipe-weed

[18-22 September 3018, the Nazgûl ride from Isengard to the Shire:]
Now [the Lord of the Nazgûl] divided his company into four pairs ... but he himself went ahead with the swiftest pair. Thus they passed west out of Rohan ... and came at last to Tharbad. Thence they rode through Minhiriath, and even though they were not yet assembled a rumour of dread spread about them.... But some fugitives on the road they captured; and ... two proved to be spies and servants of Saruman. One of them had been used much in the traffic between Isengard and the Shire, and ... he had charts prepared by Saruman which clearly depicted and described the Shire. These the Nazgûl took, and then sent him on to Bree to continue spying; but warned him that he was now in the service of Mordor, and that if ever he tried to return to Isengard they would slay him with torture.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Of the Journey of the Black Riders

[23 September 3018 III, the Nazgûl arrive in Eriador:]
But the Black Captain established a camp at Andrath, where the Greenway passed in a defile between the Barrow-downs and the South Downs; and from there some others were sent to watch and patrol the eastern borders, while he himself visited the Barrow-downs. In notes on the movements of the Black Riders at that time it is said that the Black Captain stayed there for some days, and the Barrow-wights were roused, and all things of evil spirit, hostile to Elves and Men, were on the watch with malice in the Old Forest and on the Barrow-downs.

Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch 4, The Hunt for the Ring: Other Versions of the Story

[Around the New Year of 3018-3019, Trouble in Bree:]
Things were far from well, [Barliman Butterbur] would say. Business was not even fair, it was downright bad. 'No one comes nigh Bree now from Outside,' he said. 'And the inside folks, they stay at home mostly and keep their doors barred. It all comes of those newcomers and gangrels that began coming up the Greenway last year, as you may remember; but more came later. Some were just poor bodies running away from trouble; but most were bad men, full o' thievery and mischief. And there was trouble right here in Bree, bad trouble. Why, we had a real set-to, and there were some folk killed, killed dead!'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Homeward Bound

[28 August - 22 September 3019 III, Saruman travels to the Shire:]
A note that [JRR Tolkien] pencilled against the episode in a copy of the First Edition is interesting:

Saruman turned back into Dunland on Aug. 28. He then made for the old South Road and then went north over the Greyflood at Tharbad, and thence NW. to Sarn Ford, and so into the Shire and to Hobbiton on Sept. 22: a journey of about 460 [miles] in 25 days. He thus averaged about 18 miles a day -- evidently hastening as well as he could. He had thus only 38 days in which to work his mischief in the Shire; but much of it had already been done by the ruffians according to his orders -- already planned and issued before the sack of Isengard.

Sauron Defeated - The End of the Third Age, HoME Vol 9, Ch 9, The Scouring of the Shire

[28 October 3019 III, when Gandalf and the Hobbits reach Bree:]
'But cheer up, Barliman! ... better times are coming. ... there is a king again, Barliman. He will soon be turning his mind this way.

'Then the Greenway will be opened again, and his messengers will come north, and there will be comings and goings, and the evil things will be driven out of the waste-lands.' ...

Mr. Butterbur shook his head. 'If there's a few decent respectable folk on the roads, that won't do no harm,' he said. 'But we don't want no more rabble and ruffians. And we don't want no outsiders at Bree, nor near Bree at all.' ...

'You will be let alone, Barliman,' said Gandalf. 'There is room enough for realms between Isen and Greyflood ... without any one living within many days' ride of Bree. And many folk used to dwell away north, a hundred miles or more from here, at the far end of the Greenway: on the North Downs or by Lake Evendim.'

'Up away by Deadmen's Dike?' said Butterbur, looking even more dubious. 'That's haunted land, they say. None but a robber would go there.'

'The Rangers go there,' said Gandalf. 'Deadmen's Dike, you say. So it has been called for long years; but its right name, Barliman, is Fornost Erain, Norbury of the Kings. And the King will come there again one day; and then you'll have some fair folk riding through.'

'Well, that sounds more hopeful, I'll allow,' said Butterbur. 'And it will be good for business, no doubt.'

The Return of the King, LoTR Book 6, Ch 5, Homeward Bound

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 28Sep04

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