The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Founded in III 1601 (year 1 by the Shire-reckoning)
The main area of the Shire, excluding Buckland and the Westmarch
A 'farthing' is an old word for a quarter or fourth part
Other names


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  • Updated 6 December 2010
  • This entry is complete

Four Farthings

The Hobbit-lands west of the Brandywine

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Map of the Four Farthings

The major part of the Shire was divided into four quarters, known as the Farthings, which corresponded to the four points of the compass. Each had their own special characteristics: the Northfarthing was noted for its farms and moorland, the warmer Southfarthing for its Pipe-weed, and so on. The borders of the Farthings came together close to Bywater: three met at the Three Farthing Stone on the East Road, and the fourth, the Northfarthing, joined a few miles to the north.

The Four Farthings encompassed the lands of the Hobbits west of the River Brandywine. East of the river lay the Eastmarch of Buckland, which did not fall within the boundaries of any of the farthings. So, the expression 'Four Farthings' always refers to the original land founded by Marcho and Blanco, but not to Buckland, which was added to the Hobbit-lands more than seven hundred years later by Gorhendad Oldbuck. The Westmarch, the land between the Far Downs and the Tower Hills that was added to the Shire in IV 31, also fell outside the four long-established Farthings.

Eastfarthing These were the lands to the north and south of the East Road, between the Three-Farthing Stone and the Brandywine Bridge. Many of the inhabitants of this region were thickset Shire-hobbits of Stoor descent. The boggy region that bordered the river Brandywine south of the Bridge was known as the Marish, and though technically part of the Shire it acknowledged the authority of the Masters of Buckland across the river. The Eastfarthing's main towns were Frogmorton and Whitfurrows on the East Road, and Stock in the Marish.
Northfarthing The Northfarthing ran from farmland in its southern parts to high moorland hills in the far north. It was associated with the growing of barley and with hunting. Only two townships in this area are known: Oatbarton in its more southerly parts, and Hardbottle, the home of the Bracegirdles. In its eastern parts, on the banks of the river Brandywine, was a region known as Greenfields, and it was here that Bandobras Took famously defeated a band of invading Orcs in III 2747.
Southfarthing The most southerly of the Four Farthings ran southward from the Three Farthing Stone to Sarn Ford on the river Brandywine. It was the warmest region of the Shire, supporting vineyards and plantations of pipe-weed. The latter was first planted in the Shire by Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom, and after his time the Southfarthing remained famous for the quality of its Leaf to the end of the Third Age and beyond.
Westfarthing That part of the Shire that lay westward of the Three Farthing Stone, as far as the Far Downs. It was the location of the Shire's chief town, Michel Delving, which stood on the chalky White Downs in the central parts of the Westfarthing. On the eastern edge of this Farthing, only a few miles within its borders, lay the towns of Hobbiton and Bywater, and to the south, also just within the borders of the Westfarthing, lay Tuckborough and the seat of the Thains of the Shire.

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