The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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  • Updated 6 July 2010
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Men of Bree

The nearest settled Men to the Shire

In the hard years of the Second Age, a race of Men inhabited the White Mountains far to the south of the Shire, in the land that would one day become Rohan. Groups of these mountaineers began to migrate northwards. Some settled in the region that became Dunland, but others travelled farther still, and coming to a tall wooded hill not far from the ancient Barrow-downs, they founded a settlement that took its name from the hill, Bree.

In appearance, these Men had brown hair, and in stature were short and broad. They seem to have maintained a curious tradition of taking their names from plants and herbs, and many of these surnames are recorded; Appledore, Ferny, Goatleaf, Heathertoes, Rushlight and Thistlewool. Butterbur was another of these plant-names, an important one in Bree, for it was the ancestral name of the keepers of the Prancing Pony inn.

Though Bree seems to have been founded before the beginning of the Third Age, it lay on the road between the North- and South-kingdoms of the Dúnedain, and so was drawn into the history of that Age. When the North-kingdom of Arnor was founded, Bree lay within its borders, and the Men of Bree became subjects of that country. More than a thousand years later, in about III 1300, members of a strange and little-known race began to appear in the township. Man-like in appearance, but much smaller, these were Hobbits fleeing the encroaching darkness to the east. Many of them stayed among the Men, and a unique society arose where the Big People and the Little People lived beside one another in harmony.

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