…and they are really strange
The Real World Shire
No, I’m not gonna tell you about a real place called The Shire, I’m talking about the area the land of the Hobbits would occupy in our world. It’s alot bigger than most people think.
In “The Lord Of The Rings” (and in other places), Tolkien states that the Shire is about 120 miles from east to west (not including Buckland) and 150 miles from north to south. That’s 18,000 square miles!
Being curious as to how big that area would look using real world references, I used Streets & Trips to map out an approximation using towns I knew here in NorCal.
Starting with my hometown of Marysville as the eastern edge, 120 miles west along Highway 20 you’ll come to Ukiah. Now, that is not as the crow flies, so let’s figure that a straight line puts you a few miles west of Ukiah.
Going from north to south along Interstate 5, we’ll put Orland at the north end and Stockton (where I was born) is the southern end, pretty much exactly 150 miles.
Folks, that’s a pretty fair sized chunk of land. Even riding a fast horse, it would take you a couple of days to get from one side to the other. Walking on short hobbit legs would stretch it out to at least a week. Probaly longer, when you figure in several meals a day, naptimes, frequent rests, a long night’s sleep, etc.
And let’s remember that the Shire was not known or paid much attention to by the folk of most other lands. It was just 18,000 square miles they kind of ignored.
In roleplaying terms, seeing the size of the place makes me think that I actually didn’t go overboard when I created the kingdom of Valduria for my original D&D game all those years ago. Valduria measured roughly 160 miles from north to south and 240 miles from east to west. If you tossed in the Dwarven Lands, the Elfwood and the Greenwood (home of Halflings and many other “small folk”, you’d add maybe 75 more miles in each direction.
Just so you know, Gondor covered over 716,000 square miles and Rohan apparently never got measured, but must be pretty close to the same size as Gondor.