LOTRO's Little Secrets : The South Farthing

“Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate
And though I oft have passed them by
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Of all the  places in LOTRO nowhere speaks about Middle-earth to us more than the beautiful Shire. When you arrive here for the first time, you know exactly  where you are even if you have only a vague knowledge of the geography of Eriador.  In designing this beautiful land the game developers, in  the true spirit of Tolkien have have maintained the rustic feel with the farmlands, orchards and perfect details as farm buildings,  waterwheels and windmills.  However the Shire we know and love so much in game is not the complete land as it was created by J.R.R. Tolkien . If you compare the  complete map of the Shire with the one we are using in game you will discover a whole region is missing - I am talking of course about the South Farthing. Currently in LOTRO,  the Shire has a gate not far from the homestead entrance, that separates the “South Farthing”. Beyond this should lie more villages like   Hardbottle, Sackville and Longbottom...now my question is this : will we ever see this part of our beloved Shire that is missing? 

There are some some little clues here and there that tell us that this area maybe was (is?) still a possible new addition to the game. I know for a fact that many LOTRO players ( especially hobbits, of course ) would absolutely love to see more of their land. There is a 'secret gate' in Michel Delving, just by the stables, that has been locked since the launch of the game seven years ago. There are 'legends'  among us hobbits , tales of  'secret ares and buildings seen  to the south of our homesteads, in the distance.  I did find an old   discussion  on the official forums with some great suggestions on the implementation of  the South Farthing.  I also went to read all about this region and even made a little 'customized' map  to show where the locations of the new  villages are...more or less, of course.

On the map ( marked in red ) are the  new villages, and I even included two new  locations in the West Farthing, Greenholm and Gamwich.  The Shire in LOTRO remains the most popular area in game, so true to Tolkien's work and ideals, it captures the essence of his  writings, so the addition of the 'missing' South Farthing could  be like a nice cherry on the cake to all those, like me,  that adores this fertile and rural land, hobbits, and of  course, the game.  What follows now is a brief description of the geography of the South Farthing and its villages , just to give you an idea what we could expect to see if this dream was to become reality. 

The Shire (as envisaged by Tolkien )  measures 120 miles across from the Far Downs on its western edge to the Brandywine River on the east. From north to south it stretches about 150 miles,  from the northern moors to the southern marshes. The Shire is  a rich, pastoral land. Much of it is devoted to growing excellent crops. The marshlands along the Brandywine, known as the Marish, are ideal for the cultivation of mushrooms, a Hobbit delicacy, as farmer Maggot will surely tell you. The warm, sheltered climate of the South Farthing particularly around Longbottom,  is perfect  to growing pipe-weed. And while barley, used for brewing beer , is grown in the North Farthing , the vineyards in the South Farthing where grapes grows in abundance are ideal for making wine such as the popular Old Winyards.

South Farthing

LONGBOTTOM : Longbottom is the home of the  Hornblowers family. The village and its surroundings are known to be  sheltered from the elements, probably by the valley's sides. The  village sheltered aspect, and the relatively warm temperate  climate of the South Farthing, makes the region around Longbottom ideal for growing  of pipe-weed. Longbottom is therefore an important center of a thriving industry. Longbottom Leaf , introduced by Tobold Hornblower (also known as 'Old Toby' ) remains one of the most famous varieties of the weed in Middle-earth.

PINCUP : Pincup is a  tiny village of the Shire. It lay in the northern corner of the South Farthing, some miles south of the Three-Farthing Stone, in that hilly part of the Shire known as the Green Hill Country. It seems to have been built in the southern slopes of the Green Hills, and was reached by only a single road, apparently leading from the larger settlement of Longbottom to the south.

WILLOWBOTTOM : Willowbottom is an other  small village near Woody End in the East Farthing , near the borders of the South Farthing of the Shire. It stands on the banks of the stream called Thistle Brook, just above the place where that stream flowed into the River Shirebourn. It is not a famous place, but it surely has a lovely name.

HARDBOTTLE : Very little is known about Harbottle other than  it been a very small hamlet in the South Farthing, west of  Longbottom and north of Sackville.  In game it would be roughly placed  near the hemesteads. 

SACKVILLE : Home village of the famous Sackville family, and for little else really. It  consist in very few  very  lovely homes surrounded by farm fields and vineyards. Little is known about the Sackville family other than that they  were originally  a wealthy  family of hobbits. 

WITHWELL: Whitwell is  located on the Green Hills, at a walking distance from Tuckborough. Thain Paladin Took II, owns a farm there. The folk here believe themselves to be the 'Royal Welcomers', boasting that their village date back all the way to when the Kings came to take their routine checks on roads, bridges and  on the doings of the Shire, before Arnor's fall

West Farthing

GAMWICH :  A small village in the West Farthing, home of the Gamwich/Gamgee  family.  This small settlement is famous for rope-making. In game it would be roughly located to the north-west of Little Delving.

GREENHOLM :  This is the last hobbit village to the west, on the Far Downs, which  lay on the western borders of the Shire. It was the home of  the Fairbairn Family whom will eventually marry into the Gamgee family. 

If we have a look at the LOTRO map of Eriador we will discover that a big chunk of the map , just below the Shire is left blank, that is where the South Farthing is supposed to  be. Also missing  from the game are The Blue Moutains to the south-west, and of course Mithlond and The Grey Havens.  LOTRO's Middle-earth is not exactly like the Middle-earth Tolkien described because for gaming purposes the game developers had to -re-scale it, making it smaller and more easy to travel  across by players, but it would  be lovely if it was complete. It is my personal opinion as a hobbit ( yes I am bias ) that the South Farthing would be a fantastic addition to  the game  that would 'refresh' the experience for many LOTRO players that may have drifted away a bit. I would be happily give my time for free to help out Turbine with the design of this area. LOTRO player base is still formed at its core by loyal and devoted Tolkien fans that would happily spend all their spare time in beautiful Middle-earth, eating pies,  growing crops, and generally be the happiest bunch of hobbits you can  ever imagine. 

Muffin and tea, anyone...?


Ess said...

I really would like to see Southfarthing in LOTRO. It'd make me log in again. The Shire has a special place in my thoughts. It's a place of happiness and friendship to me. It's the place I can go to if I'm feeling low, and there'll always be some fun Hobbit roleplay going on.

Leilani Amorey said...

That is really what opening this new area would achieve :) A 'fresh' start in the Shire, giving hobbits (old and new) a new motivation to be there - It would be lovely if it was a new level 15/20 area to complement the Bree area