Old Forest

Player name(s): kingorrik

Player rank: Builder +

Location name: Old Forest


[spoiler=Quotes]Farmland Gate into Old Forest:
He turned to the left along the Hedge, and soon they came to a point where it bent inwards, running along the lip of a hollow. A cutting had been made, at some distance from the Hedge, and went sloping gently down into the ground. It had walls of brick at the sides, which rose steadily, until suddenly they arched over and formed a tunnel that dived deep under the Hedge and came out in the hollow on the other side…It was dark and damp. At the far end it was closed by a gate of thick-set iron bars. … It shut with a clang, and the lock clicked.

Woods near Bonfire Glade (oaks, ashes, linden, etc. etc. mainly deciduous)
On the far side was a faint path leading up on to the floor of the Forest, a hundred yards and more beyond the Hedge; but it vanished as soon as it brought them under the trees. Looking back they could see the dark line of the Hedge through the stems of trees that were already thick about them. Looking ahead they could see only tree-trunks of innumerable sizes and shapes: straight or bent, twisted, leaning, squat or slender, smooth or gnarled and branched; and all the stems were green or grey with moss and slimy, shaggy growths…They picked a way among the trees, and their ponies plodded along, carefully avoiding the many writhing and interlacing roots. There was no undergrowth. The ground was rising steadily, and as they went forward it seemed that the trees became taller, darker, and thicker. There was no sound, except an occasional drip of moisture falling through the still leaves.

Bonfire Glade (enlarge current glade and make it less colorful and more drear)
‘Well, well!’ he said. ‘These trees do shift. There is the Bonfire Glade in front of us (or I hope so), but the path to it seems to have moved away!’
The light grew clearer as they went forward. Suddenly they came out of the trees and found themselves in a wide circular space. There was sky above them, blue and clear to their surprise, for down under the Forest-roof they had not been able to see the rising morning and the lifting of the mist. The sun was not, however, high enough yet to shine down into the clearing, though its light was on the tree-tops. The leaves were all thicker and greener about the edges of the glade, enclosing it with an almost solid wall. No tree grew there, only rough grass and many tall plants: stalky and faded hemlocks and wood-parsley, fire-weed seeding into fluffy ashes, and rampant nettles and thistles. A dreary place: but it seemed a charming and cheerful garden after the close Forest…At the far side of the glade there was a break in the wall of trees, and a clear path beyond it.

Path to Bare Hill (they could see the bare hill through the trees before they reached it):
They could see it running on into the wood, wide in places and open above, though every now and again the trees drew in and overshadowed it with their dark boughs. Up this path they rode. They were still climbing gently, but they now went much quicker, and with better heart; for it seemed to them that the Forest had relented, and was going to let them pass unhindered after all.
But after a while the air began to get hot and stuffy. The trees drew close again on either side, and they could no longer see far ahead. Now stronger than ever they felt again the ill will of the wood pressing on them. So silent was it that the fall of their ponies’ hoofs, rustling on dead leaves and occasionally stumbling on hidden roots, seemed to thud in their ears. Frodo tried to sing a song to encourage them, but his voice sank to a murmur…He was, indeed, just about to stop and propose going back (if that was still possible), when things took a new turn. The path stopped climbing, and became for a while nearly level. The dark trees drew aside, and ahead they could see the path going almost straight forward. Before them, but some distance off, there stood a green hill-top, treeless, rising like a bald head out of the encircling wood. The path seemed to be making directly for it.
They now hurried forward again, delighted with the thought of climbing out for a while above the roof of the Forest. The path dipped, and then again began to climb upwards, leading them at last to the foot of the steep hillside.

Bare Hill:
There it left the trees and faded into the turf. The wood stood all round the hill like thick hair that ended sharply in a circle round a shaven crown.
The hobbits led their ponies up, winding round and round until they reached the top. There they stood and gazed about them… On the south-eastern side the ground fell very steeply, as if the slopes of the hill were continued far down under the trees, like island-shores that really are the sides of a mountain rising out of deep waters. They sat on the green edge and looked out over the woods below them… At length they made up their minds to go on again. The path that had brought them to the hill reappeared on the northward side

Trees on the higher slopes and/or more northerly heights of the forest:
Soon it began to descend rapidly and they guessed that it must actually be heading towards the Withywindle valley: not at all the direction they wished lo take. After some discussion they decided to leave this misleading path and strike northward; for although they had not been able to see it from the hill-top, the Road must lie that way, and it could not be many miles off. Also northward, and to the left of the path, the land seemed lo be drier and more open, climbing up to slopes where the trees were thinner, and pines and firs replaced the oaks and ashes and other strange and nameless trees of the denser wood.

Tumbled Gullies blocking northward passage:
At first their choice seemed to be good: they got along at a fair speed, though whenever they got a glimpse of the sun in an open glade they seemed unaccountably to have veered eastwards. But after a time the trees began to close in again, just where they had appeared from a distance to be thinner and less tangled. Then deep folds in the ground were discovered unexpectedly, like the ruts of great giant-wheels or wide moats and sunken roads long disused and choked with brambles. These lay usually right across their line of march, and could only be crossed by scrambling down and out again, which was troublesome and difficult with their ponies. Each time they climbed down they found the hollow filled with thick bushes and matted undergrowth, which somehow would not yield to the left, but only gave way when they turned to the right; and they had to go some distance along the bottom before they could find a way up the further bank. Each time they clambered out, the trees seemed deeper and darker; and always to the left and upwards it was most difficult to find a way, and they were forced to the right and downwards.

Gully with stream leading to the Withywindle, and the river’s description:
The afternoon was wearing away when they scrambled and stumbled into a fold that was wider and deeper than any they had yet met. It was so sleep and overhung that it proved impossible to climb out of it again, either forwards or backwards, without leaving their ponies and their baggage behind. All they could do was to follow the fold - downwards. The ground grew soft, and in places boggy; springs appeared in the banks, and soon they found themselves following a brook that trickled and babbled through a weedy bed. Then the ground began to fall rapidly, and the brook growing strong and noisy, flowed and leaped swiftly downhill. They were in a deep dim-lit gully over-arched by trees high above them.
After stumbling along for some way along the stream, they came quite suddenly out of the gloom. As if through a gate they saw the sunlight before them. Coming to the opening they found that they had made their way down through a cleft in a high sleep bank, almost a cliff. At its feet was a wide space of grass and reeds; and in the distance could be glimpsed another bank almost as steep. A golden afternoon of late sunshine lay warm and drowsy upon the hidden land between. In the midst of it there wound lazily a dark river of brown water, bordered with ancient willows, arched over with willows, blocked with fallen willows, and flecked with thousands of faded willow-leaves. The air was thick with them, fluttering yellow from the branches; for there was a warm and gentle breeze blowing softly in the valley, and the reeds were rustling, and the willow-boughs were creaking.

Marshy area around Old Willow Man:
He passed out into the sunshine and disappeared into the long grasses. After a while he reappeared, and reported that there was fairly solid ground between the cliff-foot and the river; in some places firm turf went down to the water’s edge. ‘What’s more,’ he said, ‘there seems to be something like a footpath winding along on this side of the river. If we turn left and follow it, we shall be bound to come out on the east side of the Forest eventually.’…There being nothing else for it, they filed out, and Merry led them to the path that he had discovered. Everywhere the reeds and grasses were lush and tall, in places far above their heads; but once found, the path was easy to follow, as it turned and twisted, picking out the sounder ground among the bogs and pools. Here and there it passed over other rills, running down gullies into the Withywindle out of the higher forest-lands, and at these points there were tree-trunks or bundles of brushwood laid carefully across.
The hobbits began to feel very hot. There were armies of flies of all kinds buzzing round their ears, and the afternoon sun was burning on their backs. At last they came suddenly into a thin shade; great grey branches reached across the path. Each step forward became more reluctant than the last. Sleepiness seemed to be creeping out of the ground and up their legs, and falling softly out of the air upon their heads and eyes…He lifted his heavy eyes and saw leaning over him a huge willow-tree, old and hoary. Enormous it looked, its sprawling branches going up like reaching arms with many long-fingered hands, its knotted and twisted trunk gaping in wide fissures that creaked faintly as the boughs moved.

Trail to Bombadil’s house:
It became difficult to follow the path… Just as they felt their feet slowing down to a standstill, they noticed that the ground was gently rising. The water began to murmur. In the darkness they caught the white glimmer of foam, where the river flowed over a short fall. Then suddenly the trees came to an end and the mists were left behind. They stepped out from the Forest, and found a wide sweep of grass welling up before them.”[/spoiler]

Overhead plan:

Purple - Darker, Sinister Forest Sections
Orange - More pines & firs
Lime Green - Willows along Withywindle
Blue - Streams
Green Lines - More Deciduous species

Reference Imagery:


As nothing has been done on this project for months, I’m putting it on hold.

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Hello all!

I’m making this post to say I have build something I mentioned on the old forum: the house of the River-woman (and former of Goldberry), a location which appears in the Adventures of Tom Bombadil. It is, as suggested by Fornad, located in the pond in the Withywindle where swans are planned. The closes warp is Breredon, I think.
I did it on the main server because I can’t copy map sections and because it was really quick to do, but don’t freak out, the access is currently blocked and, unless you push N and start flying through the blocks, it looks like nothing was ever there. If the build is approved, I will remove the mud covering the entrance. It is, of course, completely open to modifications, or even a complete revamp by the staff.

Now, some words on the build itself:

  • It’s completely finished except for the need of a small biome change to turn the green carpets in moss (intended to be alga beds).
  • It’s fairly small, as I don’t see their kind of nymph-like beings needing a true house. It’s really more like a place to rest and sleep with a little bit of lady comfort / traditional imagery ^^ .
  • I went for a mix of nature and antique feeling. It’s actually located under a big tree on the bank and some parts of the walls / celling are formed by roots.
  • At first, I wanted it completely flooded, but it ooked really ugly as Minecraft is really bad at making underwater details. So there are now vines separating the interior air from the water of the river / pond. I think those vines actually look really good and are a good emphasis on the natural feeling of the place. Regarding the strangeness of this small air cavity under the pond, I think it’s a kind of magic that really suits the nature of the beings supposed to inhabit it, as perhaps the most traditionnal fairy talesque characters of Tolkien. They remind me both figures like Greco-Roman nymphs and more medieval ones like Melusine or the Lady of the Lake.


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Don’t make unauthorised changes to the main map.


OK. But really, it looks like it doesn’t exist in the current state.

It’s not going to exist at all in about 5 minutes. We have a project system for a reason. If builders built stuff wherever they liked - even if it was hidden - we’d have an absolute mess of a map. Please ask me or an Overseer for permission to do stuff like this in future.

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OK, no problem.

And for future reference, until you get +, you can always ask someone with world edit perms to make a copy for you to build on.

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I don’t think Goldberry should have a house in the server. She was also described as the ‘River’s daughter’. Take this as you will (literal or otherwise), but I think Goldberry’s mystique in the books came from not knowing what she was (a physical manifestation of the river, or simply an elf) or where she dwelt before Bombadil. Having an actual dwelling for her would ruin that in my opinion (even if it did exist in-server, it would probably be more natural and less hobbity/greek).


I did not invent this:

There his beard dangled long down into the water:
up came Goldberry, the River-woman’s daughter;
pulled Tom’s hanging hair. In he went a-wallowing
under the water-lilies, bubbling and a-swallowing.

'Hey, Tom Bombadil! Whither are you going?'
said fair Goldberry. ‘Bubbles you are blowing,
frightening the finny fish and the brown water-rat,
startling the dabchicks, and drowning your feather-hat!’

'You bring it back again, there’s a pretty maiden!'
said Tom Bombadil. ‘I do not care for wading.
Go down! Sleep again where the pools are shady
far below willow-roots, little water-lady!’

Back to her mother’s house in the deepest hollow
swam young Goldberry. But Tom, he would not follow;
on knotted willow-roots he sat in sunny weather,
drying his yellow boots and his draggled feather.

Also, my house wasn’t greek / hobbitish but actually greek (nymphal) / natural.
And I don’t think it diminish her mystique at all. Quite the contrary, in fact: it emphases her nature of river-daughter and draws parallels with the exemples I quoted earlier. Especially if the house is well done. Maybe mine wasn’t, as I said, it was free to any modification, but on the idea itself, I do think its makes perfect sense in addition to being lore-accurate.

I’m going to go with Whee on this one, I don’t think it’s needed really.

I think there’s a good amount of fairy tale to this, Tolkien obviously had fantastical elements in his stories–but Tolkien was also a poet. It never has to be a literal house, it could be a spring where the water breeches forth. If she’s a river spirit, her mother, in her potentially literal essence, probably IS the spring of the Withywindle itself if you take what he’s saying at base meaning. The spring/her mother’s “home” is found in the deepest hollow. Her home is the deepest hollow of the forest, or even in the deepest hollow of a cave–it’s left to the imagination of the reader.

In fact, even the term house is used poetically here:

“Nor shall I be passing Old Man Willow’s house this side of spring-time,
not till the merry spring, when the River-daughter
dances down the withy-path to bathe in the water.”

Old Man Willow is a very old, but still lively willow with hints at him being a huorn or an ent with good reason to have evil thoughts towards hobbits and anything humanoid. But what’s not described is him having a physical house, it’s just the opening in the “maze” of roots and branches.

Tom is ever fascinated with making songs about the nature of things which the Hobbits and, by extension, the reader can only begin to understand through the poetic descriptions of his tales. He doesn’t see things the way we do. The secluded grove in which Old Man Willow lives is as much a home and a house to such a misunderstood and hurting ancient as the brooks and deepest hollow of the Old Forest are the home and “house” of Goldberry. So no actual houses with furnishings are needed.

Edit: The only thing similar to what you’re looking for is Tolkien’s description of Wellinghall.

“On the right side of the bay there was a great bed on low legs; not more than a couple of feet high, covered deep in dried grass and bracken. Treebeard lowered himself slowly on to this … until he lay at full length, with his arms behind his head, looking up at the ceiling, upon which lights were flickering, like the play of leaves in the sunshine. Merry and Pippin sat beside him on pillows of grass.”

‘This is an ent-house,’ he said, ‘and there are no seats, I fear. But you may sit on the table.’ Picking up the Hobbits he set them on the great stone slab, six feet above the ground, and there they sat dangling their legs, and drinking in sips."

“‘Well, well, now we can talk again,’ said Treebeard. ‘You are thirsty I expect. Perhaps you are also tired. Drink this!’ He went to the back of the bay, and then they saw that several tall stone jars stood there, with heavy lids. He removed one of the lids, and dipped in a great ladle, and with it filled three bowls, one very large bowl, and two smaller ones.”

The difference here is that, while Goldberry may have a physical home where she lives with Tom–Treebeard is by far a much younger ‘tree’ than say Old Man Willow. Old Man Willow is beyond the need of anything such as a table, chairs, a bed, bowls, and jars. Nothing is implied to say otherwise about Goldberry or her “mother.”

In this case, where it’s not touched upon by Tolkien, but rather purposefully left to the imagination of the reader; unlike actual confirmed physical locations such as Mithlond and the the towns of Lindon(which we knew existed, but weren’t touched upon too much either), where we take full artistic license; it would be taking too much into our own hands to retcon an actual house for Goldberry’s mother into existing lore.


It is an interpretation. Not the one I will defend, but a valid one.

That being said, I objectively have have points to contest in your argumentation:

If she’s a river spirit, her mother, in her potentially literal essence, probably IS the spring of the Withywindle itself if you take what he’s saying at base meaning.

If that is the case, why River-woman? It would be a very strange formulation if the spring is the intended meaning. And if there is one river spirit, having two seems like the most possible thing.

Old Man Willow is beyond the need of anything such as a table, chairs, a bed, bowls, and jars. Nothing is implied to say otherwise about Goldberry or her “mother.”

Good, because there were no such things in my house … Just a mirror, to emphasise the feminine / nymphal side, but that could be easily removed. Plus it is not that good of a comparison, because the Ents seem far less “human” than Goldberry, in their look as in their ways of life.

it would be taking too much into our own hands to retcon an actual house for Goldberry’s mother into existing lore.

How that? There is litteraly nothing in the lore impeaching it to exist (quite the contrary actually) and it is the smallest thing to place! Proof is I had absolutely no difficulty to place it myself in the current server without modifying anything else, and it was the easiest thing to do to cover it so that nothing seems to exist (until approved or disapproved, as I said in my first post on this subject).

Poetically speaking, a spring birthing a river, when adding human traits to a river, or river spirit for that matter, makes most sense to understand it as a mother, a woman. Nothing saying her mother wasn’t a physical nymph who had a home in the deepest hollow of the forest. But I do say that Tolkien, all credit due to him, would take any opportunity he could to describe it in detail. He would write something like, “To drink and feast at her mother’s table, bowls of berries and new leave’s dew, a house on the hill, doo diddly doo.” The man liked adding detail where it was important and was vague when he wanted a sense of wonder. You’re right, it’s all interpretation; but if we applied this level of interpretation across other examples, Old Man Willow would have a hovel to sleep in at night.

I think it’s heavily implying here that her home is the source of water for the river, so the spring in which the river starts. She has to swim to get to it–Tom couldn’t possibly follow her there because he can’t breathe underwater–and her return in spring is marked with her “dancing down the withy-path.” to bathe in the water (what I imagine this means is the riverbed dries up, or is at least lowered during times of the year, and during the spring rain, Goldberry harolds the dancing waters down to the Brandywine.) Taking that beautiful poetry and consigning it to a few leaf blocks and mirror is, while not a bad interpretation on your part, a rather odd one. And I do think you lost the meaning of the poem. Which is ultimately describing his love for his wife, how they met, and his feelings of joy when she returns to him.

Poetically speaking, a spring birthing a river, when adding human traits to a river

Excatly! That’s what Tolkien is doing here: adding human traits, and even more: making some sort of personnification of the river, in the same way of the antic river nymphs or gods. True, it could be a metaphore, but in a context where we already know that there is a real river maid, when the text mention a river woman with just one or two lines of distance, it makes much more sense to imagin it’s a real being.

He would write something like, “To drink and feast at her mother’s table, bowls of berries and new leave’s dew, a house on the hill, doo diddly doo.”

Once again, not if there is no such thing in the house, not if the house isn’t really the classical house with wood or stone walls and a thatch roof or something like that. Not if the house is something like the one I made. Or like an Ent house, actually.

but if we applied this level of interpretation across other examples, Old Man Willow would have a hovel to sleep in at night.

No because, as I said, the Ents aren’t that good of a comparison, because they are far less human-like than Goldberry and her kind. Sure, Goldberry didn’t start her life with Tom Bombadil, and hasn’t thus lived all her life in a “human” house, but the fact is that she now lives in one and that it doesn’t seem to be that much of a problem. Conclusion: she is adaptable to life in a “human” house, it doesn’t seem unnatural for her to live there. Would you see an Ent leaving his woods to live in a human shaped house? I mean, even if the size issue is somehow resolved? No! They couldn’t even agree of a place to live with their own females, so in a real house … And on top of that, the Old Man Willow seems to be more like a Huorn than an actual Ent.
And nobody would contest that she is far more human (or elven)-like concerning her look.

That being said, I wouldn’t see it as a problem if her house had the natural level of an Ent one, although mine was a bit more “civilized”. But what I mean here is that, given what we know about Goldberry, it is much more plausible that when Tolkien tells us about her old house, it would be nearer of an actual one than with the Old Man Willow’s.

I think it’s heavily implying here that her home is the source of water for the river, so the spring in which the river starts.

Actually, the text makes me think more about some deep place in the river than about the spring. And this passage from FotR tends to indicates the same thing:

I had an errand there: gathering water-lilies,
green leaves and lilies white to please my pretty lady,
the last ere the year’s end to keep them from the winter,
to flower by her pretty feet tilt the snows are melted.
Each year at summer’s end I go to find them for her,
in a wide pool, deep and clear, far down Withywindle;
there they open first in spring and there they linger latest.
By that pool long ago I found the River-daughter,
fair young Goldberry sitting in the rushes.
Sweet was her singing then, and her heart was beating!

It’s not really important (apart maybe from the fact that the spring of the river is supposed to be near Tom’s house, which would make her “hiding” there a bit odd, although not impossible), as she still has to swim to get there and stay there on a season-based period. Actually, Tolkien himself says that she “represents the actual seasonal changes in [river-lands]” in the Letters.

Taking that beautiful poetry and consigning it to a few leaf blocks and mirror is, while not a bad interpretation on your part, a rather odd one. And I do think you lost the meaning of the poem. Which is ultimately describing his love for his wife, how they met, and his feelings of joy when she returns to him.

I don’t understand how my interpretation of the house impeaches in any way what you describes here … It’s not because she has an actual mother and an actual house (or something like that) that she can’t stay / hide there in the same way she would stay / hide at the river spring. It would even be possible to place the “house” in the spring instead of the bottom of the pond, if that’s what we establish as the correct location.

Enough now, I have made my decision, no need to keep going on about it.


Worst case, we can always go back and add it in later if it’s felt lore necessary.

I never directly said you made it up Bombur, I have read the poem you speak of, and the preface to it in the book implies that it is a hobbit legend coming out of Buckland about Tom Bombadil, so I’m sure parts of it (like talking badgers and a malevolent Goldberry) are extrapolated for the sake of song. What I said is that it is best left out for interpretation, I suppose I just worded my post badly.

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There will finally be an Old Forest build day tomorrow, starting at 2PM UTC. We aim to finish!


After an incredibly successful build day, the Old Forest is now 95% done. The only thing that remains is for the ancient trees (marked by pillars of glowstone) to be built. Please make the effort to build some if you weren’t able to make it today!