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Established no earlier than III 1601 (year 1 by the Shire-reckoning); closed by Lotho Sackville-Baggins in III 3018 or III 30191
the last building on the Bywater Road to Hobbiton, in the village of Bywater in the Shire's Westfarthing


About this entry:

  • Updated 4 December 2020
  • This entry is complete

Green Dragon

An inn of Bywater

Map of the Green Dragon in Bywater
The approximate location of The Green Dragon in Bywater2
The approximate location of The Green Dragon in Bywater2
"There's only one Dragon in Bywater, and that's Green."
Words of Ted Sandyman
from The Fellowship of the Ring I 2
The Shadow of the Past

One of the Shire's many inns, The Green Dragon stood on the Bywater Road, the last building passed by travellers from Bywater on their way towards Hobbiton. It was perhaps most famous as the starting-point of the Quest of Erebor: it was here that a flustered and unprepared Bilbo met with Thorin and his Dwarves on the morning their adventures began. It remained an important meeting-place and a centre of gossip long after Bilbo returned from the Quest, and at the time of the famous Birthday Party, Sam Gamgee was among its regular visitors. For all its proud history, it did not survive the coming of Sharkey and his Men to the Shire during the War of the Ring, and it was a desolate and empty place by the time Sam returned with Frodo and the other Travellers.



When Lotho Sackville-Baggins established himself as the 'Chief' in the Shire, he closed all of its inns, including The Green Dragon. We do not know precisely when this was (it would have been late III 3018 or early III 3019) but by the time the Travellers passed through Bywater on 2 November III 3019, The Green Dragon was a deserted shell. After the defeat of Sharkey, The Green Dragon and other inns would presumably have been reopened, and so The Green Dragon likely served the Hobbits of Bywater into the Fourth Age, but this is not stated explicitly.


We don't know which of the mapped buildings of Bywater was specifically The Green Dragon (if indeed it is represented by any of them). It was said, however, to be the last building a traveller would pass as they left Bywater for Hobbiton. Even if it was not the particular building marked here, then, it must have been close to that point on the Bywater Road. Alternatively, it might conceivably have been the building some way out of Bywater, to the west of Bywater Pool (though by comparison with other buildings in the area, this perhaps seems a little small to represent an inn).

It should be mentioned that the dimensions shown on this map do not quite match the description of The Green Dragon in The Hobbit. According to that story, Bilbo is able to run the entire distance from Bag End to The Green Dragon in ten minutes (a distance stated to be about a mile). On the map shown here, following that given in The Lord of the Rings, the distance is considerably greater than this, with the full journey by road from Bag End to the inn being closer to eight miles. That would have needed Bilbo to run at nearly fifty miles per hour, so there must be some inconsistency at work. It seems that we have to assume one of two things: either that Bilbo's account of his meeting with the Dwarves was exaggerated for effect, or that the map's scaling around Hobbiton has been adjusted for clarity, and the distance was rather shorter than the map's scale implies.

In fact the latter option seems to be the case. Tolkien later wrote of the large-scale map of the Shire that Bywater had been placed too far to the east, and should have been shown more nearly to the south of Hobbiton. That arrangement would fit the story in The Hobbit rather better, but as the only available canonical map of the Shire at this scale, we follow the standard map here.


About this entry:

  • Updated 4 December 2020
  • This entry is complete

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