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


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  • Updated 29 January 2017
  • Updates planned: 1

The Watch

The Shirriffs of the Shire

A small body of Shire-hobbits whose work was to keep watch within the Shire, and to guard its borders. The members of the Watch were known as Shirriffs, and each wore a feather in their hats to mark their status. Within the Shire itself, the Watch normally consisted of just twelve Shirriffs. Another group, known as the Bounders, kept a guard on the Shire's borders, watching strangers and ensuring that the Farthings remained safe from intruders.

While the force of Shirriffs was historically small, it grew in the years leading up to the War of the Ring. At first the rising dangers from outside caused the numbers of Bounders to increase, but during the authoritarian times of the Chief, the ranks of the Watch within the Shire also swelled. After Sharkey's fall, the Watch was reduced to its more usual levels.

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