River Brandywine

The Brandywine (S. "Baranduin", or "Long Gold-brown River") was one of the three great rivers of Eriador. The Brandywine left Lake Evendim between the village of Lakehead and the ruins of Annuminas with only a hint of its eponymous brown color, derived from the iron and matted-turf of the Twilight Hills. It passed eastward through the river fiefs of Arthedain over several minor rapids, collecting most of the drainage of the North Downs, turned south at Rood, then proceeded through a series of minor shoals and large swamplands to Sarn Ford, winding southwest from there to the sea.


Except for short stretches usable by local boats and barges, trade along the river was carried in Riverman canoes. Rapids that could not be navigated directly by these agile, shallow-draft boats could be bypassed. Stairs and pathways had been built along all shoal stretches of the river to make portage easier. Aside from the rapids and the rough and tumble Rivermen themselves, there were few serious dangers to travelers on the river passage. Most camped close to the shore at night. Inland, on the west bank, lived Elves who might take offense to strangers tramping through their woods. On the east bank, along the river's central reach, lay the Old Forest, where the trees themselves might divert and trap an unwary traveler. The swamps, of course, were homes to quicksand, poisonous snakes, insects, and fevers. The biggest river pikes were powerful enough to injure a swimmer, but they were obliged by their nature to take prey they could swallow whole. The most dangerous "moss-backs", great, scarred pikes ten to twenty feet in length, were creatures of legend, appearing in fishing lore once or twice in a century; they were reputed to be capable of taking and swallowing a small Hobbit . In practice, even pike of this size were more of a danger to ducklings and pet frogs than to any fisherman.

The East Bank

That part of the east bank north of the Men Romen was named the Nan Turnath; south of the great road lay the Old Forest, and beyond the wood the Red Hills.

The West Bank

Within the bounds of the Shire, most of the shoreline of the river was masked by swamps. Good riverside landings tended to be occupied by Riverman encampments and Eriadorian fisher-folk. There were rapids south of Rood and shoals above Girdley Island. The swamplands were named, as the Rivermen paddled southward from Rood to Sarn Ford, the Teal Marshes, Pikeman Dwells, the Marish, theOverbourne Marshes and the Mudling Fens.

The Brandywine after TA 3018

There are fewer Men along the Brandywine in this time period, although the lands held by Hobbits of the Shire and Buckland are safe and well-tended. Parts of the Marish and other swamp-land have been diked, drained, and turned to cultivation. Enough of the original wetlands remain to provide breeding grounds for fish and birds, although steady pressure from Hobbit hunters and fishermen keep the pike small and the ducks bashful. The Rivermen mind their manners around the Shire-folk, for the most part, and stick to their own havens and camps. The Eriadoran descendants of the Arthedain and Cardolandrim are few in number and confined to a handful of villages. King Elessar's proclamation of FA.6, banning Men from entering the Shire, contains an escape clause for those trafficking along the Brandywine. The Rivermen, in particular, are allowed passage along its length, but no privileges on its banks save in dire need. Riverman voyages between the Bridge of Stonebows and Haysend are now done in a single bound, without grounding at Buckleberry ; exchange of goods tends to take place from canoes and barges anchored in the river.


  • MERP:Arnor
  • MERP:the Shire
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