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Thread: Real Life in Middle Earth

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I'm an artist and am currently working in miniature a little larger than dollhouse scale. I hope to do a scene or two relating to Middle Earth but this has led me to think about what everyday life in Middle Earth might have been like.

In the Hobbit when the twelve dwarves are having tea with Bilbo he is asked to fetch a lamp. I presume this was probably an oil lamp but do you think it would it have been made of glass or iron? Bilbo packs the dwarves into barrels so we know barrels existed but what else was there in the way of practical items? Was life comparabe to life in what we call the Middle Ages or the 1700s or...? If I recreated Bilbo's garden would he have had a pump or a well or have hauled water from the river? Tolkien talks a lot about the craftsmanship of the dwarves and the elves but mostly in relationship to the forging of weapons and jewelry. I don't want to rely completely on the movies for this information even though I really liked just looking at what Jackson thought Middle earth was like. Does any one else have thoughts on this?
I figure most hobbit homes would get water from a garden well, except those in a village that would have a well in the center of the village square. Homes of the well to do might have an indoor pump in the kitchen; I doubt if any had running water. Probably all of them had outhouses for bodily waste; though I'm not sure how that would have worked at bag end. Maybe instead they collected night-earth which was used for fertilizer in their luscious gardens. And as they didn't have the petro-chemical industry to help mutate their germs and viruses, and as had few visitors, they probably had a built-up imunity that let them get away with this.
Thank you for your thoughts, Grond Smile Smilie

I guess this thread isn't very interesting to anyone else but I've had a good time pondering the possible realities of Middle Earth. I wonder if Bag End had glass windows..does it say anywhere? I'll have to go back and read. The dwarves and elves may have been more technologically advanced than the Shire but there was Sandyman's mill so the hobbits had some industry and had harnessed water power. Dwarves and elves did smelting and smithying so glass may well have been in existence, too. The hobbits must surely have made their own earthenware.

I'm glad that a well sounds like the most likely probability to you, Grond, I can make a small well for Bilbo's garden but would have to buy a pump.
I also think their water pumps were all hand pumps; and that the windmill to pump water had not yet been invented, or if it had, was not incorporated in the Shire, as it would have ruined the pastoral atmosphere.
I envision the Shire as a sort of 17th early 18th century sort of place. Most trades were practised except for shoemaking of course. They had tables, chairs, stoves, fireplaces, doors and crockery. They had wagons, leatherworkers for harness which would include tanneries. Let's not forget Sam's uncle's ropewalk. Spades, possibly ironwork from the dwarves though I would think they bought raw iron and steel. They built wooden houses in Bilbo's time since only the rich and poor maintained the practise of building/excavating smials. So the villages would have the typical smithy under the spreading chestnut tree, woodworkers, innkeepers, potters, and leathersmiths, not to mention brewers and the warehouses for grain and produce to sell to those outside the Shire. These trades tended to remain in families for generations. There would have been greens for games of the aiming and throwing sort. Butts for the practise of archery. Probably all able-bodied males were at least competent with the bow. Think of the company of archers to aid the King in the war against the WitchKing of Angmar. Oh, there were weavers and clothiers, haberdashers and scrivners. I'm sure there are more but enough for now.
Sort of like the things you can find in Colonial Williamsburg Virginia
Absolutely, Grondy. Colonial America minus gunpowder. It is a good parallel because life was pretty much the same for several hundreds of years until gunpowder and the industrial revolution. I'd like to see some of your artwork Sian, could you post some online?
Halbard, your input is very helpful and Grondy your link to Williamsburg, too. 'Colonial' really helps me picture things in my mind better and I can do some online research. I remember hand pumps because my aunt had one on her farm (next to the outhouse).

Thank you for asking about my artwork Smile Smilie None is online right now as my website dissappeared when my son dropped the domain he used to have and I don't know when or if it will be put up again. I was a pastellist and did realistic landscapes for quite a few years but the dust contributed to lung problems and I gave it up. Now I paint equine sculptures which has branched out into clothing for scale model people (In short, I play with model horses and dolls - >blush<) and am adapting some of this to my affection for Middle Earth. If I get my project done I'll take pictures, but it goes slowly and more lucrative projects have to come first.

I found these real 'hobbit houses' online and thought you all might enjoy seeing them too. It would be so much fun to live in one of these!
Wow!! Absolutly fantastic!!!
Agree Thorin Smile Smilie What a beautiful house Smile Smilie I'm thinking about moving to Wales right now or maybe just ask for a hobbit meal or four..I would love to sit down and read in their librarySmile Smilie (I meant bothof the houses )Thanks for the link Sian o'the GreenSmile Smilie
Both are beautiful. Orc Smiling Smilie

I'd love to live in either except they don't appear to be wheelchair accessible. Orc Sad Smilie
That could be fixed :orcsmilie
I'd love to live in either except they don't appear to be wheelchair accessible

If that cannot be arranged , I'd gladly be anyones helping hand or maid for that matterSmile Smilie
If i lived in on i'd provably have broken my head. Elk Grinning Smilie
Are you very tall, Thorin?
This reminds me of Gandalf's head bumping visit to Bag End in PJ's FotR.

I assume these houses have electricity laid in and thus don't really qualify for for this thread, but who cares; they are really neat.
Nah was kidding sian. Only 1m88cm. Elk Grinning Smilie
I can figure out your height but the US really needs to go metric... Happy Elf Smilie
Is it true that Peter Jackson actually took the Hobbit house for Bilbo Baggins home or something like that. is so lovely. There is something so intensely comforting and restful to me about rounded doors and windows. What it is though I cannot say.
Virumor and I have always appreciated looking at well rounded curves; viewing them is much more enjoyable than watching those with harsh angular frames. Elf Winking Smilie
The appreciation of rounded shapes in houses might be something that is locked into every human being's genes, since 't reminds us all of the cavernous dwellings of our Cro Magnon/Neanderthaler/Bedrock ancestors.
I actually have not found many people to agree with me Grondy dear, on the aesthetic beauty and comfortableness of the rounded door or window. Most scowl at me or fix me with their eyes until I blush and then shake their h eads somewhat sadly , they have always worried about my lack of normalness.'Round windows and doors are silly looking and hardly practical should they need repair or replacement, now are they? is the fun answer I receive.
I think for myself it is rather magical to look at something rounded like that. It is truly out of the ordinary and as such has limitless possibilities for imagination.
Practical schmactical! There was a woman on TV and she had Hobbit houses in her garden!! I was so jealous!! They were too small for my taste though, I want a Hobbit house I can use. Maybe as a guest house or something. It would look lovely on/in the green hill next to our house. *siiiiiigh....*
And when you need a refrigerator, stove, or couch move in or out, you just need to hire a Wizard to levitate said large object, such that its smaller profile is centered on the door as it floats through.
Now grand pianos are another kettle of fish that may require a little creative excavation. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie