In most cultures in Middle-Earth, the wilder lands, in particular the forests, were controlled or owned by aristocrats. Custom and necessity dictated that most of these lands were used by the common people as sources of wood, food, and herbs, but the local lords had both privileges and final judgement over their use. In the Shire, much of the landscape was privately owned, much of it by the wealthy families of the Gentlehobbits, and most of the rest by independent farmers. However, every village and clan holding retained common ground and woods for the use of its people, and many of the larger wild areas had been held since ancient times by the whole of the Shire-folk. Almost forgotten with the passage of time was the link between the Shire-commons and the Elves. Bindbale Woods, the Green-hill Country, and many other forests in the Shire marked the sites of ancient Sîrrandrai villages and favored camping glades of the Eldar. Even in Frodo's time many of the glades, such as the one above Woodhall, were still frequented by Elvish wandering companies. Few in the Shire roamed these areas at night. While most knew nothing of the agreements their grandsires had made with the Elves concerning the reserves, local lore and tales of haunting continued to keep the woodlands green and Elvish privacy intact.
- MERP:The Shire
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