So many hobbits went on a field trip last night, over to Buckland. It was a night of stories and tales, poems and even a song. And many, many sausages.
On a fine, crisp morning in Buckland, many visiting hobbits from the Shire side of the river started gathering outside Brandy Hall. They had come for the Fifth Historical Hobbit Field Trip, where they would learn more about Buckland history and tradition. As well as eat sausages and drink ales on a lovely day out.
The general good mood of the participating hobbits soon gave way to some nervousness as the organizers led the party towards the scary Old Forest next door. The promise of mushrooms proved irresistible, though, so everyone braved the forest entrance and went to the Bonfire Glade for a few hushed stories. This was no place to linger for long, so the participants seemed quite relieved as they left the forest and went down to Buckland Faire for a few parting words, some songs and quite a few dances.
I’d like ter thank everyone who came along on the trip, it wouldn’t be any fun without yer! Also, special thanks have to be given to masters Simbo and Tallic, for helping out with songs, stories and poems during the trip.
For me own notes from the trip, have a look below the picture!
About Buckland History
As some of yer will know, at the time of the Shire’s founding some 1400 years ago, there were no hobbits in Buckland. Instead, us hobbits lived and prospered in the Shire. And while we were all somehow subjects to the rule of a longshank king in far-off northern lands, our ancestors chose to elect a representative of a powerful hobbit family to serve as the Thain. The Thain was the king’s representative in the Shire. And for hundreds of year, the master of the powerful Oldbucks family served as Thain.
However, in year 740 by Shire reckoning, near seven hundred years ago, something happened. The twelfth-ever thain Gorhendad ‘Broadbelt’ Oldbuck had fer a long time been eyeing a fine-looking, uninhabited strip of land east of the Brandywine river. It was a fertile land of river soil, with plenty of animals ter hunt in the wooded areas, not least deer.
The temptation grew over the years, and in the end Gorhendad acted. He resigned his thainship, brought his family with him and left he Shire. Instead, he colonized the new lands which we are now in. Possibly because of all the deer here, he named the new lands Buckland. And he changed his family name to Brandybuck, to forever remember the two things he loved so dearly, the lands here and the river nearby.
Soon after his arrival, Gorhendad started digging a massive burrow into the very hill we’re on right now. These smials soon became known as Brandy Hall, and the village of Buckleberry soon grew around the hill. And many other villages popped up as time passed. Newbury, Crickhollow and Standelf. Now, these smials soon occupied the whole of the hill, and there are many side-doors and windows into the place. If yer have the time, yer should wander around and have a look at the gardens here, which are famed fer miles around fer their beautiful gardening.
In the end, Gorhendad Brandybuck ruled Buckland as his own realm, and his family became even more wealthy and powerful than before. Ever since, the Master of Brandy Hall has been seen as the leader of Buckland, and the locals have always claimed ter be independent from the Shire. Although I guess us Shire folks have always seen Buckland as a faraway frontier of the Shire rather than its own land.
Back in the Shire, the Thainship passed to the Took family, where it has been ever since. But many of the hobbits in the Eastfarthing, not least some of the farms near Stock and in the Marish, respected the new master in Buckland. They felt closer to the Master of Brandy Hall than to the Tookish Thains. In the end, the closeness between the hobbits on both sides of the river led to a ferry over the Brandywine, between Buckleberry and the Marish. Although I hear some of the local rascals used the ferry primarily ter go scavenging fer mushrooms from the farm fields west of the river.
Still, us hobbits have never been ones ter quarrel too much over leaders and authority, and the Thains and the Masters of Brandy Hall have stayed on good terms over the years. But ever since Buckland was settled, if the locals will pardon me fer saying so, us Shire hobbits have thought of our Buckland cousins as ever so slightly odd folk.
Of Buckland customs
Now, I mentioned that Shire hobbits may find Buckland hobbits a little different. First of all, the Brandybuck family has quite a bit of Fallohide blood in them, which means that they are prone to the odd bit of adventure from time to time. Sometimes they even wander off to Bree just to have an ale at the Prancing Pony, before traveling back the next day. Although those travels have become much rarer these days, since the roads are not as safe as they used ter be.
However, the Brandybucks and most other Bucklanders are of primarily Stoorish origin. Among other things, this means they are used ter living on riversides, which I suppose is one of the reasons they were drawn here. Of all things, they enjoy mucking about in boats! They are skilled boatsmen, although accidents have been known to happen. Why, it is not even 40 years ago that a master Drogo Baggins and his wife Primula Brandybuck fell out of their boat and drowned in the river.
Still, these are rare situations, and the local hobbits often go fer long journeys on the river. Some even have gone as far north as to Girdley Island up beyond the Brandywine Bridge, where we had our third field trip a year ago. And some even go swimming from time to time.
Now, as yer can probably understand, the lands near the river can be somewhat muddy. This means that it is not an uncommon sight ter see Bucklanders wearing boots And, of course, the Stoor blood means that some of the locals have been known to sport facial hair, like small curly beards.
The Bucklanders have another trait as well. Buckland has seen more danger over the years than the Shire lands, a fact which we will touch upon in lectures later today. This also means that the locals can come across as somewhat more suspicious than yer average Shire hobbit. And they are certainly more prepared fer strange and dangerous things. Among other things, they keep their doors locked at night! And they are able ter muster quickly to face any danger that shows up.
Some of yer may have heard of the Horn-call of Buckland. Contrary to what some of us believe, there is not just one Horn of Buckland. Rather, it is a set horn signal, which is ter be used when danger threatens. It was used during the fell winter a hundred years ago, when the river froze and white wolves crossed into the land. A hobbit noticing the wolves, raised his horn and blew the Horn-Call!
AWAKE! FEAR! FIRE! FOES! AWAKE!
FEAR! FIRE! FOES!
Soon, the whole of Buckland was aroused. The horn-call spread, dogs barked and the locals mustered ter fight the invading wolves.
Now, why do I spend so much time telling yer about the Horn-Call? Because them locals have told me, the Horn-Call rang out again just a little while ago. Over in the village of Crickhollow, a band of furrin horsemen dressed in filthy black garbs raided a small house and destroyed the property there. And this certainly serves as a reminder that Buckland, for all its beauty, can be a very dangerous place. And that sense of danger is something we will touch upon in a lecture a bit later on.
Of Bonfire Glade
The High Hay, the hedge we just went through, stretches some twenty miles along the eastern border of the land. It was planted sometime after the foundation of Buckland. I know not when, but it was many hundred years ago. And it was constantly tended, so it stood thick and tall.
It was raised ter protect the Bucklanders from the strange Old Forest. Wild animals wander around in here, always posing a threat fer the locals. But perhaps the most dangerous thing is the forest itself. I don’t think it is in any way evil. But it is old, so very very ancient, first born in times long gone. And old things may not behave in ways that hobbits expect or even hope.
After the High Hay was raised, it seemed as if the forest took objection to the hedge. The trees crept nearer the hedge. Soon, many trees were planted right next to the High Hay and started ter lean over it. Trying to crush it, it seemed, by blocking the sunlight from reaching through.
The local hobbits acted. They brought axes and torches and went into the forest. They set their torches to the forest. Their axes dug deep and felled many hundreds of trees. And in this very glade here, they gathered the fallen trees and burned them as a warning to the forest.
It was as if the forest itself howled out. The leaves of the trees rustled, the branches groaned and creaked with pain. And in the distance, low mutterings and accursed sounds could be heard in the dark.
But the trees did not attack the High Hay again. Ever since, this glade has been called Bonfire glade. And while a few hobbits walk in here from time to time, no one wants ter stay fer long. Neither will we, fer that matter!
Based on information found from the following sources:
J.R.R.Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”
The Tolkien Gateway
The Encyclopedia of Arda