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Where in the world is Middle-earth for you?


Jan 11 2013, 12:58am

Post #1 of 23 (457 views)
Where in the world is Middle-earth for you? Can't Post

This thread is inspired by a philosophical comment Imin made last week, geordie's and entmaiden's responses, and something sil said just today.

Imin said:

depends on how a person sees middle earth

... If they have read the books then they will most likely think of wherever they know best as inspiration for their imaginations on creating the landscape...

Geordie said:

Yes, that's true

-Ithink that (before the movies anyway) people thought of Middle-earth as part of their own experience. I've never seen mountains, but in my mind the Misty Moutains are Switzerland. But home tends to be where people place their idea of the Shire. I know a Dutch bloke who says that for him, the Shire is flat, with canals and windmills.

Entmaiden said:

I've been to New Zealand twice

and I think it's an amazingly beautiful country, but it's not Middle-earth to me. That's probably because I read the books many, many times before I saw the movies, so my Middle-earth is firmly fixed in my mind.

Rohan to me is more like the middle of the US, with miles and miles of rolling plains, and not the rocky terrain of the movies. The mountains are like either the US Rocky Mountains or the Swiss Alps, and while I don't have specific counterparts for the Old Forest, Mirkwood and Fangorn, my idea of Fangorn at least is not at all what the movies depicted.

I love the movies, but I've been able to keep my version of Middle-earth and the characters intact.

Sil said:

...but i am sure you all have a shire essence right where you now stand.

Now I don't mean for this discussion to devolve into a debate about why x is more like Middle-earth (M-e) than y; nor is this meant to take anything away from NZ as representative of M-e in "the films."

Rather, if the idea is true -- that is if M-e is more of an essence than a set of physical or geographical features -- please: tell us where M-e is for you (approximately); and describe the features of that place (note geordie's comment in particular) and the feelings it evokes. For that matter, is Middle-earth something you carry with you, like an idea or a memory, no matter where in the world you go?

(Thanks to Imin, et al for the use of their comments)

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 11 2013, 1:06am)


Jan 11 2013, 1:24am

Post #2 of 23 (261 views)
A small seaside village in New England. // [In reply to] Can't Post


squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Jan 11 2013, 4:27am

Post #3 of 23 (253 views)
New Zealand and Hawaii [In reply to] Can't Post

Especially new Zealand

''We are very dangerous over short distances''



Jan 11 2013, 7:29am

Post #4 of 23 (278 views)
A lot of it is in Scotland [In reply to] Can't Post

the Highlands, Rannoch Moor. I've seen the Shire in the Cotswolds. Nothing where I live resembles any place in Middle Earth at all, unfortunately.


Jan 11 2013, 10:42am

Post #5 of 23 (234 views)
New Zealand and my Uncle and Aunt's backyard [In reply to] Can't Post

Mt. Sunday was magical. I was engrossed in its beauty. I really felt as if I were one of the Rohirrim staring at the rolling fields.

My Aunt and Uncle live in a small town. There's a pine forest directly behind their house. We've had many picnics there, imagining dwarves dangling in the trees. Behind the pine forest is a large green field. Walk far enough and you'll find old ruins.

s ofereode, isses swa mg - that has passed, so may this.


Jan 11 2013, 10:59am

Post #6 of 23 (295 views)
Probably not the answer you are looking for ... [In reply to] Can't Post

When I first read the LOTR books (and TH, and even more so for The Silmarillion), I never equated any of Middle-earth's locations to any real-world locations. Perhaps this is because I was young at the time, and not particularly well travelled. Why would I imagine the Misty Mountains being the Alps, if I had never been? Before the films (and even today), I don't think of x, y and z location being like x, y and z part of Middle-earth. Does that make sense? These places would be complete fabrications in my head, based on the words Tolkien had written down.

Obviously, after seeing the films my "vision" of Middle-earth is greatly altered. NZ is Middle-earth and today I can now imagine parts of England being the Shire, and the Alps being like the Misty Mountains. But that really only applies to the films.

To answer your question, I don't think my vision of Middle-earth changes, nor is a based on any real-world location or features. I could live in any country, in any climate, and Middle-earth (in my head) would still be the same.


Jan 11 2013, 1:46pm

Post #7 of 23 (240 views)
I am sure this is the same for most . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

but my home/neighborhood is the Shire for me.

I live in a small country village (yes, it is call a village) in Ohio and when I went away for college and came back for the holidays and such I would always say to myself, "Well, I'm back."

It's just a nice peaceful place all around. As high schoolers we would stomp around town and in the country just like Bilbo and Frodo. There is a small forest behind the old middle school where we would build forts. In the winter, we would have an adventure and walk on the frozen creek which lead all the way to the forest which always reminded us of the Old Forest.

In the spring when it would rain a lot, we would take our friend's small three-person boat on the creek (the Brandywine) which was QUITE fun Wink

Don't be hasty.

Ethel Duath

Jan 11 2013, 4:30pm

Post #8 of 23 (214 views)
I've had pretty much the same experience as you. [In reply to] Can't Post

Many places remind me of the Middle Earth in my head, or lead me to think of this or that tree, mountain, or plain as "Middle Earthian" for that moment; but for me the "actual place" is utterly elsewhere (and of course way back in time).

Thanks for putting into words what I'd never really thought about specifically.Smile


Jan 12 2013, 12:58am

Post #9 of 23 (210 views)
New Zealand and where I live [In reply to] Can't Post

While some of my ideas of the geographics of Middle-earth are not 100% NZ... like the realm of Rohan is not rocky, the rest is incredibly spot-on. AND the Shire is very much like where I live. There aren't any mountains, but it's rolling hill farmland spattering what was once a large forest. There's also a small river that runs about 1/2 mile behind and snaking north of my home. I can actually imagine a Ranger followed by a few hobbits walking just within the treeline when I'm walking my country roads.

gramma's The Hobbit: Unexpected Journey Line Party Report & Review
and first draught of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List


I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TORn's Observations Lists
Unused Scenes

Tol Eressea

Jan 12 2013, 5:53am

Post #10 of 23 (194 views)
Definitely NOT where I live [In reply to] Can't Post

Nothing against Oklahoma where I've lived much, but certainly not all, of my life, but I've always been drawn to books and films that let me imagine distant lands. Part of what I like about LOTR was that quintessential English-ness of the Shire. My image of the Shire was probably a combination of some of the landscapes I saw on my - at the time - one brief visit to the UK along with stuff I had picked up from TV. I'm afraid Brits would probably be horrified by how "twee" my image is. Blush It's probably entirely too idealized, but, for me, it works for the Shire.

As for other locations from the book, I don't have any particular place in mind though I have a vaguely Andalusian landscape in mind for Rohan. But as I've never been to Spain, I don't know why or how that came about. Laugh

I guess southern Georgia (not South Georgia, Daniel Laugh) and northern Florida helped me understand how claustrophobic a forest -like the Old Forest - can make one feel. I had read in another book about that feeling and I couldn't understand because the only forests I'd been in were in mountainous regions where views can suddenly open up to spectacular vistas. But driving through southern Georgia to visit my mom in Florida, I saw how many, many trees growing side by side on a very flat landscape can, indeed, be extremely claustrophobic. However, the trees and general atmosphere that I imagined while reading about The Old Forest were quite different than Georgia.

However, when I was in Poland a couple of years after reading the books and after having seen the first two films, I would often see landscapes that seemed very Middle-earth. I was especially captivated by the Birch? trees; they seemed like something right out of Lothlorien. Smile

"The question isn't where, Constable, but when." - Inspector Spacetime

(This post was edited by zarabia on Jan 12 2013, 6:00am)


Jan 12 2013, 10:30pm

Post #11 of 23 (191 views)
Where is Middle earth for me [In reply to] Can't Post

To me Middle Earth is

Rolling green hills with ploughed fields and a few houses with smoke coming out of the chimneys dotted here and there.

Standing on the shore on a late summer's evening watching the sun set in the west.

Snow capped mountains of the Southern Alps.



Aragalen the Green

Jan 12 2013, 11:23pm

Post #12 of 23 (198 views)
Lucky in my own experience :) [In reply to] Can't Post

I grew up in a valley next to the Olympic National Forest in Washington State (USA), and the woods on our property were Mirkwood/the Old Forest/Fangorn. My brother and cousins and I tried to dig a Hobbit hole on one of the forested slopes, until my father pointed out that it could collapse if not shored up--we abandoned that idea pretty quickly! The Shire was the Valley itself. We also had a swamp, which suited the Neekerbreeker marshes so well, as well as a non-cave setting for Gollum in his lake. The Cascade Range were the Misty Mountains, and Mt. Rainier was the Lonely Mountain; Mt. Saint Helens was Mt. Doom (especially after the eruption of 1980!). Rohan to me was the eastern side of the Cascade Range, with rolling hills and scattered pine trees, and the Anduin was the mighty Columbia River.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


Jan 13 2013, 12:37am

Post #13 of 23 (191 views)
I wonder if we should identify [In reply to] Can't Post

the feelings themselves that evoke shire-ness.

But that is so difficult to quality to another human mind even though sentient, sentient in its own individualistic and unique way. For example, description of 'apple taste' to one having not tasted one is impossible.

So are the emotions and feelings of 'shire-ness'. I believe that every one of our feelings, everyone, has a particular 'taste', is the best way i can put it. Or you may like to call it a 'mental aroma', impossible to convey.

All we can do is convey those sensory elements that produce those particular 'mental expressions'.

To me shire-ness can be a host of things; sunlight, quiet, a creak of a chair, the curve of a roof,bough,stone,hill,cloud,flower. The chirp of a bird, rustle of a leave, drip of a spicket,dew from a tree, run-off from a roof,a small stream running. It can be seeing a hill beyond or though a tree's leaves of green,or gold,or red, seeing a cloud in reflection of a puddle or a single drop of dew on a single blade of grass.

It is endless,it is infinite,it is everywhere. In the end, i believe, 'shire-ness' represents wholeness, peace, and the fullness of life realized in the depth of our being.


Jan 13 2013, 1:15am

Post #14 of 23 (182 views)
Yes please, I'll have some of that! [In reply to] Can't Post

I couldn't agree more with you.

In ROTK when Sam speaks to Frodo of his memories of the Shire, tears come to my eyes every time. I think of my loved childhood home on a farm in the south of the South Island of NZ. I think of the marvellous times with my family, the sun in the summer time, the storms in spring when I help my Dad with the ewes and lambs, the feeling of being loved and special in the eyes of the ones I love, the peace and security, listening to the skylarks in the summer, the specialness of life ...


Jan 13 2013, 2:42am

Post #15 of 23 (179 views)
That's the spirit! [In reply to] Can't Post

I know this region, except from the southern side of the Columbia River. In that area, Mount Hood could be The Lonely Mountain.

The Misty Mountains for me, are in Tennessee down toward Gatlinburg.

(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 13 2013, 2:42am)


Jan 13 2013, 2:44am

Post #16 of 23 (188 views)
I thought Squire describing it as a womb was apt. // [In reply to] Can't Post



Jan 13 2013, 4:16pm

Post #17 of 23 (184 views)
Out or in? [In reply to] Can't Post

I think my metaphor of the womb is more applicable to Bag End, rather than the Shire. The Shire is more of a social ideal, rather than a personal or psychological one. In The Hobbit book, which we were talking about at the time, Bilbo's neighborhood is described as the "Country Round" and it's not even clear if it's inhabited entirely by hobbits or simply 'decent respectable folk': in the early stages of their journey, the dwarves and Bilbo travel through country "inhabited by...men, or hobbits, or elves or what not". Later, in revision and in composition of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien developed the idea that Bilbo lived in a hobbits-only district that happened to be on a major road traveled by other peoples. In his characteristic way he landed on the name "The Shire" for this district.

It is certainly meant to evoke a romanticized English country shire with overtones of comfort, prosperity, security, beauty, and settled ways. But it is not a simple enlargement of the central concept of the hobbit-hole, even though the Shire replaces the Hole as the longed-for destination of the wayward hobbits in the second book. Bilbo's quest is essentially personal, thus his focus is his own cozy home; Frodo and his companions' quest is essentially social (saving Middle-earth) and thus their focus is their community.

But I'm flattered that you remember that discussion!

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Jan 13 2013, 9:13pm

Post #18 of 23 (176 views)
And how would our Sam have answered this question, [In reply to] Can't Post

as he looked north into the eye of the wind that drove back the darkness, past the ruin of the clouds to where the sky far off was clear, at the end of all things......

Perhaps it would be wise to embrace his profound love of the shire and ponder what he would have said.


Jan 13 2013, 10:20pm

Post #19 of 23 (162 views)
I can't liken it to anywhere I know.... [In reply to] Can't Post

And since I saw LotR before reading it, I tend to see PJ's locations in my mind. Places not depecited in the film (or scenes from TH, the Sil etc) tend to be of my own creation and not made up of existing places (although when the Dwarves travel in the barrels I see the scene from Dad's Army when Jones goes diving in a log...). Saying that... I'm living in a ski resort at the mo. and when I see shadow behind a mountain I like to pretend that Mordor is just behind emitting said dark aura Wink

I like the comments about the Shire being more of a feeling or a state of mind (for want of a better phrase) than an actual physical location, for example I see it as being at home surrounded by family/friends with plenty of good food and laughing till my stomach hurts.
My ultimate dream would to go to NZ and do one of the M-E 'tours', and just sit, soak up where I am and immerse myself in my surroundings cause for me that would be M-E Evil

~*Haudh-en-Ndengin the Elves named it, the Hill of Slain, and Haugh-en-Nirnaeth, the Hill of tears... the earth beneath which the swords of the Eldar and the Edain crumbled into rust*~

Just some light reading....


Jan 15 2013, 1:38am

Post #20 of 23 (137 views)
middle earth for me [In reply to] Can't Post

well first the shire IS the english countryside, a place i know well ;) little pubs, winding lanes, rolling hills, patchwork farmland , little rivers, golden summers, colourful autumn , dark snowy winter, magical spring.

the old forest - has to be new forest or forest of dean, all old oaks and gnarly tree trunks.

rivendell - germanic castle/black forest region

misty mountains - norways ranges.fjords

gondor range - the alps

rohan- mongolian steppes or great plains of america

bree- any medieval old walled city of northern europe prancing pony like an old coaching inn , like the one at londonbridge

general arnor -welsh landscape

grey havens area - ireland

carrock area scotland

mirkwood - scottish caledonian forest mixed with the great old eastern european forests pine, closed in, dark.

fangorn - tazmanian forersts

gondor - italien style, osgiliath /venice minas tirith like rome

for starters :P

"You Tolkien to me?!" - Hobbit de Niro


Jan 15 2013, 5:03am

Post #21 of 23 (138 views)
Middle earth to me... [In reply to] Can't Post

...is East Tennessee, on the border of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains were my Misty Mountains.


Jan 15 2013, 5:06am

Post #22 of 23 (132 views)
That's two votes for Tennessee. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Great Smoky Mountains certainly are Misty.


Jan 16 2013, 9:50pm

Post #23 of 23 (141 views)
some late thoughts to add... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd say walking at night under a starry sky
Standing by the shores of a sea..
Some dreams I've had...
and the times in my life I've had a sense of the Higher Powers at work

I think of Middle Earth more like Faerie -- a place I can glimpse of feel a connection to, more than an actual spot. The places and times I've listed are moments when I felt that that the threshold to the place was close by, I guess, if I can put it that way.

Interesting question and ways to look at this, thanks for posting it!



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