HASA Resources

Places in Middle-earth

Old Forest

Type: Forests, Fields, Plains

Region: Bree/The Shire

Other Names
The Forest
Buckwood (HoME only)

Location: The ancient forest extending eastwards from the borders of Buckland to the Barrow-downs; the Withywindle flows southwest through its midsection, with the treacherous Old Man Willow near its center.

Description:

'[Of] the Old Forest many tales have been told: all that now remains is but an outlier of its northern march. Time was when a squirrel could go from tree to tree from what is now the Shire to Dunland west of Isengard.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 2, Ch 2, The Council of Elrond

They... looked out from the hill-top.... It was now as clear... as it had been veiled and misty when they stood upon the knoll in the Forest, which could now be seen rising pale and green out of the dark trees in the West. In that direction the land rose in wooded ridges, green, yellow, russet under the sun, beyond which lay hidden the valley of the Brandywine. To the South, over the line of the Withywindle, there was a distant glint like pale glass where the Brandywine River made a great loop in the lowlands.... Northward beyond the dwindling downs the land ran away in flats and swellings of grey and green and pale earth-colours.... Eastward the Barrow-downs rose, ridge behind ridge... and vanished out of eyesight....

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 7, In the House of Tom Bombadil

Looking ahead they could see only tree-trunks of innumerable sizes and shapes: straight or bent, twisted, leaning, squat or slender, smooth or gnarled and branched; and all the stems were green or grey with moss and slimy, shaggy growths....

They picked a way among the trees..., carefully avoiding the many writhing and interlacing roots. There was no undergrowth.... [As] they went forward it seemed that the trees became taller, darker, and thicker. There was no sound, except an occasional drip of moisture falling through the still leaves. For the moment there was no whispering or movement among the branches; but they all got an uncomfortable feeling that they were being watched with disapproval, deepening to dislike and even enmity.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 6, The Old Forest

'[The] Forest is queer. Everything in it is very much more alive, more aware of what is going on..., than things are in the Shire. And the trees do not like strangers. They watch you. They are usually content merely to watch you, as long as daylight lasts, and don't do much. Occasionally the most unfriendly ones may drop a branch, or stick a root out, or grasp at you with a long trailer. But at night things can be most alarming.... I have only once or twice been in here after dark.... I thought all the trees were whispering to each other, passing news and plots along in an unintelligible language; and the branches swayed and groped without any wind. They do say the trees do actually move, and can surround strangers and hem them in. In fact long ago they attacked the Hedge: they came and planted themselves right by it, and leaned over it. But the hobbits came and cut down hundreds of trees, and made a great bonfire in the Forest, and burned all the ground in a long strip east of the Hedge. After that the trees gave up the attack, but they became very unfriendly.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 6, The Old Forest

[Tom Bombadil's] words laid bare the hearts of trees and their thoughts, which were often dark and strange, and filled with a hatred of things that go free upon the earth, gnawing, biting, breaking, hacking, burning: destroyers and usurpers. It was not called the Old Forest without reason, for it was indeed ancient, a survivor of vast forgotten woods; and in it there lived yet, ageing no quicker than the hills, the fathers of the fathers of trees, remembering times when they were lords. The countless years had filled them with pride and rooted wisdom, and with malice. But none were more dangerous than the Great Willow: his heart was rotten, but his strength was green; and he was cunning, and a master of winds, and his song and thought ran through the woods on both sides of the river. His grey thirsty spirit drew power out of the earth and spread like fine root-threads in the ground, and invisible twig-fingers in the air, till it had under its dominion nearly all the trees of the Forest from the High Hay to the Downs.

The Fellowship of the Ring, LoTR Book 1, Ch 7, In the House of Tom Bombadil

Contributors: Elena Tiriel 24Sep04, 20Jun08

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