Rangers of the North
The nearest settled Men to the Shire
In the hard years of the Second Age, a race of Men inhabited the White Mountains far to the south of the Shire, in the land that would one day become Rohan. Groups of these mountaineers began to migrate northwards. Some settled in the region that became Dunland, but others travelled farther still, and coming to a tall wooded hill not far from the ancient Barrow-downs, they founded a settlement that took its name from the hill, Bree.
In appearance, these Men had brown hair, and in stature were short and broad. They seem to have maintained a curious tradition of taking their names from plants and herbs, and many of these surnames are recorded; Appledore, Ferny, Goatleaf, Heathertoes, Rushlight and Thistlewool. Butterbur was another of these plant-names, an important one in Bree, for it was the ancestral name of the keepers of the Prancing Pony inn.
Though Bree seems to have been founded before the beginning of the Third Age, it lay on the road between the North- and South-kingdoms of the Dúnedain, and so was drawn into the history of that Age. When the North-kingdom of Arnor was founded, Bree lay within its borders, and the Men of Bree became subjects of that country. More than a thousand years later, in about III 1300, members of a strange and little-known race began to appear in the township. Man-like in appearance, but much smaller, these were Hobbits fleeing the encroaching darkness to the east. Many of them stayed among the Men, and a unique society arose where the Big People and the Little People lived beside one another in harmony.
The stocky Men of Bree
A race of ancient lineage, the Bree-men claimed a line of descent dating back to the Elder Days. During the Second Age, their ancestors had travelled northward from the White Mountains, through Dunland, and eventually settled around a prominent northern hill. The township they built there, Bree, would grow to become an important meeting point for travellers from north, south, east and west.
In appearance the Bree-men were stocky and brown-haired. They were more accepting of other peoples and races than most Men, due no doubt to the many travellers from strange lands that passed through Bree. In older times, they had brought their own language north with them, and though that tongue ultimately gave way to the Common Speech, remnants of it could still be found in the place-names of the Bree-land. Not least among these was Bree itself, a word meaning ‘hill’ in the old language of the Bree-men.