Throughout most of its history, there was no gate on the Brandywine Bridge, and the eastern way of entry into the Shire was unguarded. At the time of Sharkey's rule in the Shire this changed, and two gates were constructed on the bridge, one guarding either end. According to the new rules enforced at that time, passage of the bridge was not permitted during the hours of darkness. A guard-house was built on the western bank of the Brandywine, and there a large number of Hobbits were stationed to guard the new gates: the Gate-keepers, under the leadership of Bill Ferny of Bree. When the Travellers returned from the War of the Ring, the Gate-keepers proved ineffective at their task, as Frodo and his companions were able to enter the Shire with only minor difficulty.
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