Discussion in 'Questions for Narnion' started by TThurston, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. TThurston

    TThurston Member

    A few comments about the Hedge of Buckland:

    "Their land was originally unprotected from the East; but on that side they had built a hedge... now thick and tall... But ... it was not a complete protection".

    During the discussion of the black riders, it sounds as if the hedge is a protection from them, since it is assumed that they could be stopped at the North-gate (implying that they could not pass through the hedge at other locations).

    When Frodo and company leave Crickhollow and first encounter the Hedge, it seems impossible to get through it, but Merry says "follow me, and you will see". The gate is in a cutting under the Hedge, with a locked gate with thick iron bars".

    All this makes it seem to me that the Hedge is more than just a screen to keep the Old Forest out of sight, which is what Corey seemed to imply in his remarks. It sounds like a formidable barrier, even if it is not a complete protection.

    Note also that the major defense of Bree also depends on a hedge, "a deep dike with a thick hedge on the inner side". Where the road pierces the hedge, it is barred by a great gates, with lodges for the gatekeepers. It rather sounds like this hedge is also formidable barrier. When the hobbits enter Bree, Strider sees them and follows over the gate rather than attempting to pass through some other location in the hedge. It rather seems that hedges are considered a significant protection, not just by hobbits, but also by the men of Breeland.

    When I took a field botany class years ago, the instructor taught us that a good pyracantha hedge would be impenetrable. I've seen them and believe it's true.
  2. One of the things that is unclear is the nature of the hedges in question. A quick look at Wikipedia, which we all know is never wrong, shows that there are multiple types of hedges in the UK. Based on the description of the hedge at Buckland, I am left with the impression that it is a thick, dense hedge made up of plants:

    “Their land was originally unprotected from the East; but on that side they had built a hedge: the High Hay. It had been planted many generations ago, and was now thick and tall, for it was constantly tended. It ran all the way from Brandywine Bridge, in a big loop curving away from the river, to Haysend (where the Withywindle flowed out of the Forest into the Brandywine): well over twenty miles from end to end. But, of course, it was not a complete protection. The Forest drew close to the hedge in many places. The Bucklanders kept their doors locked after dark, and that also was not usual in the Shire.”​

    The use of "planted" here, the reference to tending and its growth, and the assertion that it is not the kind of "complete protection" that would let Bucklanders lock their doors makes me lean towards the plant-only hedge here. Well, that and a complete absence of any mention of any defensive works within the Shire. The High Hay seems like a serious attempt to discourage wolves and casual ruffians. Like Corey said in class, it does not sound like the kind of thing that would give a Wringwraith much pause (although full marks to Buckland's Minuteman-like militia mobilization once the Nazgul are discovered.)

    I suspect that the Bree hedge is a more serious fortification. I suspect that the usual ditch and mound fortification, capped here by some kind of thicket, makes it closer to a Cornish or perhaps Devon Hedge or Offa's Dike. I would lean toward the Cornish or Offa's Dike only because of its association with the Celtic past, which the place names of the Bree -- and, interestingly, Buckland -- area echo:

    “Since the survival of traces of the older language of the Stoors and the Bree-men resembled the survival of Celtic elements in England, I have sometimes imitated the latter in my translation. Thus Bree, Combe (Coomb), Archet, and Chetwood are modelled on relics of British nomenclature, chosen according to sense: bree ‘hill’ chet ‘wood’. But only one personal name has been altered in this way. Meriadoc was chosen to fit the fact that this character’s shortened name, Kali, meant in the Westron ‘jolly, gay’, though it was actually an abbreviation of the now unmeaning Buckland name Kalimac.” (Appendix F, from "On Translation")​
  3. NotACat

    NotACat Active Member

    Tell that to someone living under the shadow of a row of Leylandii, which are quite capable of providing dense enough coverage for almost total protection, and have been planted by many a person who has since come to regret their impulse :eek:

    My understanding of the lack of protectional completeness is that the Forest, being made up of plant-life, is able to affect the hedge in some interesting vegational way, not to mention simply leaning over the top and physically bypassing any barrier.
    Matt DeForrest likes this.
  4. BlueWizrd

    BlueWizrd New Member

    Let's also not forget that the tankers during WWII had to invent special hedgerow cutters to get through them, so if a giant metal box on wheels can't break through a hedge without specialized equipment, I won't think a wraith on a horse would have much better luck.


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