In J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle_earth legendarium, the Shire is subdivided into several regions.
The original parts of the shire were subdivided into four Farthings ("four_things" or "quarterings"):
The Northfarthing is the least populated part of the Shire. This was the site of the historic Battle of Greenfields.
- Long Cleeve was the home of the small part of the Took clan known as the North-Tooks, descendants of Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took, who settled here after the Battle of Greenfields.
- The village of Hardbottle was the home to the Bracegirdle family of Hobbits, to whom Lobelia Sackville-Baggins belonged.
The western and most populated part of the Shire, this is the site of the towns Michel Delving, Tuckborough (part of Took-land), and Hobbiton.
- Michel Delving is the chief town of the Shire, located in the White Downs. Its name means simply "large excavation".
- The Mayor of Michel Delving is the only elected official of The Shire, elected on a seven year term.
A rural and fertile area, the Southfarthing is the site of the towns Gamwich (original home of the Gamgee family), Cotton, Longbottom and much pipe-weed production.
- Longbottom, a name meaning "long valley", was founded by Tobold Hornblower with the introduction of pipe-weed, in T.A. 2670, allowing the region to become well established due to the success of the pipe-weed industry.
Bordering Buckland, site of the towns Frogmorton and Whitfurrows and the farms of the Marish. Originally the Eastfarthing was under the control of the Oldbuck family, and even after these became the Brandybucks the farmers of the Eastfarthing followed the Brandybucks rather than the Thain and Mayor.
- The Yale is the name of the low-lying lands of 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.
- The meaning of the Yale's name is obscure. "Yale" is of course a well known personal and placename in English, but that name seems to have its origins in the Welsh language (suggesting that the Hobbits that named it such had contacts with "strange" languages, possibly those of Dunland). Further, it means "fertile upland", whereas we know that the Shire's Yale was a lowland region.
Other parts of the Shire
The Buckland and Westmarch, although still reckoned part of the Shire, are not part of any farthing.
Location, villages and borders
Buckland is located east of the Baranduin (Brandywine) river. The hobbits living in Buckland grew the High Hay, a hedge, to protect themselves against evil from the nearby Old Forest, which borders Buckland to the east. Buckland is bordered in the north by the Hay Gate, the only entrance to Buckland near the Brandywine Bridge. In the south the borders of Buckland follow the High Hay until the Withywindle joins the Baranduin near the village of Haysend. The most important town of Buckland is Bucklebury where the Brandy Hall is located, home of the Master of Buckland, one of the important officials of the Shire.
An important landmark is the Bucklebury Ferry, a raft-ferry used as the second main crossing point of the Brandywine River from the Shire to Buckland, after the Brandywine Bridge (which is twenty miles further south). It is apparently left unmanned to be used by hobbit travellers as needed. En route to the new house at Crickhollow, [[Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippen crossed using the Ferry just before the arrival of a Black Rider, who was forced to go around to the Brandywine Bridge as there were no boats kept on the western bank of the river. (In the film version by Peter Jackson, the encounter is more immediate.)
History and Culture
Buckland was settled around T.A. 2340 by Gorhenhad Oldbuck, the ancestor of Meriadoc Brandybuck. Gorhenhad Oldbuck thus became the first Master of Buckland. He renamed himself Brandybuck, which remained his family's name.
Because Buckland is east of the Baranduin it isn't part of the land given to the Hobbits by King Argeleb II of Arthedain. It was thus not part of the Shire proper until the beginning of the Fourth Age when King Elessar made Buckland and the Westmarch officially a part of the Shire.
The Bucklanders are unlike other hobbits as they are prepared for danger and are thus less naive than the Shire-hobbits. They close the Hay Gate and their own front doors at night and are prepared to rush to arms when the Horn of Buckland is blown. Most Bucklanders were originally of Stoor stock, and they were the only Hobbits known to use boats.
After the events of the War of the Ring at the start of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth, King Aragorn Elessar granted the Hobbits of the Shire effective self-rule inside his Reunited Kingdom, banning any Men from entering the land.
He also granted the Shire a stretch of new land: this reached from the ancient western borders of the Shire, the White Downs, to the Tower Hills.
The area between the downs and the hills became known as the Westmarch.
The eldest daughter of mayor Samwise Gamgee, Elanor the Fair, married Fastred of Greenholm, and they moved to the Westmarch. After the passing of master Samwise, they and their children became known as the Fairbairns of the Towers or Wardens of Westmarch, and the Red Book of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins passed into their keeping, becoming known as the Red Book of Westmarch.
Governmentally the Westmarch was a region of itself, and like Buckland across the river Brandywine it was not part of any of the four Farthings of the Shire.