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Established after the foundation of the Shire in III 1600 (year 1 by the Shire-reckoning)
In the Shire's Eastfarthing, southward of Whitfurrows between the East Road and the Stock Road
Particularly associated with the Boffin family
Perhaps 'fertile hill-country'1


About this entry:

  • Updated 30 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

The Yale

The lands north of the Stock Road

Map of the Yale

The traditional home of the Boffin family of Shire-hobbits, the Yale was a region of low-lying lands in the Shire's Eastfarthing that lay along the northern side of the long road from Stock westwards to Tuckborough. This seems to have been a sparsely populated area, and in fact the map of the Shire in The Lord of the Rings marks only a single building here.2



As a real name, 'Yale' comes from the old Welsh word iâl, referring to fertile uplands or hill country. It's not completely clear, however, whether Tolkien meant this same derivation to hold. One problematic reference is a mention of the 'lowlands of the Yale' in The Fellowship of the Ring I 3, Three is Company, which seems to contradict a derivation from 'uplands'. What's more, Tolkien originally considered calling this region 'Northope' ('small northern valley') which again makes a connection to hill country questionable at least.

Though a derivation from Welsh is unusual for a place-name within the Shire, it might conceivably hint at a connection with the Brandybuck family. Tolkien consistently translates personal names within that family using old Welsh elements, and we know that they originated in the Marish on the borders of the Yale, so perhaps this implies some kind of ancient historical connection.

Alternatively, Tolkien might have had some entirely different derivation in mind, though if so he left no clues to what that derivation might be. There are few realistic candidates, but one possibility might be Old English ealh a place of shelter (though this normally referred to a building, rather than an area of land).


Even this single building is apparently shown in error. 'The Yale' was added to the Shire map by Tolkien to indicate a region of the Eastfarthing, but confusion arose at some point during the production process. The published map shows 'The Yale' in small text next to an isolated block, apparently marking a building or small village, whereas in fact it was intended to describe a wide area of land southward of the East Road.


About this entry:

  • Updated 30 June 2018
  • Updates planned: 1

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