The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Known to have been extant during the War of the Ring, III 3018 - III 3019, but evidently dated back into history1
Associated with Prancing Pony in Bree2
Named for the flowering butterbur plant3


About this entry:

  • Updated 25 January 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

Butterbur Family

The family that kept the Prancing Pony

An old family of Bree, that had kept the inn there, the Prancing Pony, for years beyond reckoning. The innkeeper at the time of the War of the Ring was Barliman Butterbur.



There's no doubt that the Butterburs had kept the Prancing Pony inn in Bree for an exceptionally long time, but judging precisely how long that time that might have been is difficult. All we know for sure is that they had been landlords from a time before records were kept, but this tells us little. The very earliest Shire records were in the book known as Yellowskin, going back some nine centuries before the War of the Ring, but there is no way to be sure whether a similar date applied in the Bree-land. Realistically speaking, nine hundred years does seem to be an extraordinarily long time, and the family was likely rather younger than this. As a counterexample, though, the Brandybucks could trace their ancestry back more than a thousand years, so nine hundred years of Butterburs may not be absolutely impossible.


Though the Butterburs were noted as the keepers of the Inn of Bree, it hardly seems plausible that every single member of the family would have remained there over a period of perhaps centuries. By the end of the Third Age, there were doubtless other Butterburs to be found elsewhere in the Bree-land, or perhaps even farther afield.


The butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is a low-growing plant with fleshy leaves and reddish-pink flowers. Butterburs prefer to grow in watery conditions, which perhaps connects the family name of Butterbur with the Midgewater Marshes that lay near Bree.


About this entry:

  • Updated 25 January 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 2002, 2018. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

Website services kindly sponsored by Discus from Axiom Software Ltd.
DISC is one of the most popular methods of personality testing and assessment in use today.
The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda
Homepage Search Latest Entries and Updates Random Entry