[DWJ] about those roads in LotR

shawyer at mail.utexas.edu shawyer at mail.utexas.edu
Mon Jun 26 09:13:49 EDT 2006

Quoting minnow at belfry.org.uk:

> I'm reading a book called *The Private Life of a Country House 1912-39* by
> Lesley Lewis (very interesting about that life at that time; well worth a
> read.  David and Charles 1980, or Futura 1982) and have just come upon
> something about the care of the roads in Essex, near Ongar, just after the
> 1914-18 war.
> [quote]
> The minor untarred roads needed much day-to-day upkeep.  They had wide
> grass verges in which every few yards was a small channel or 'grip'
> draining surface water into a big ditch which, usually combined with a
> hedge, was a field boundary.  A permanent roadman, the same for many years,
> kept the grips clear and straight-sided, made up the pot-holes from heaps
> of stone and gravel at the roadside and removed obstructions from the
> ditches.
> [unquote]
> So it was one man's full-time job keeping the roads in passable condition.
> She doesn't say who paid him -- probably the parish council, I suppose --
> but one does have to ask, where did the chaps who did all this for the
> roads across Middle Earth *live*?  and who paid *them* to do this
> never-ending job?

It would be a cop-out to say that all the roads were just left-over from
earlier, happier days in Middle-Earth, because that doesn't really explain it.
In the Shire, surely there were Gaffer-type folks doing this jobs, paid for by
the Mayor's office in Michel Delving.
And the Great East-West Road was probably maintained under the organization of
the Rangers, by hobbits, Breelanders, Elves or Beornings as needed, perhaps
paid in Ranger services of protection.
And in Rohan, you wouldn't really need roads, as you would just gallop across
the plains, and create horse-tracks.
And in Ithilien the roads would be unkempt and grown-over, needing maintenance,
as no one would be looking after them.
And in Mordor the orcs would maintain the roads, but probably wouldn't get paid.

But what about the way down the West side of the Misty Mountains, a place
inhabited only sparsely by the Wild-men, who, being tangled-haired
plunder-and-pillage-types, wouldn't have organized municipal roadworks.
That still leaves the question of how Saruman imported all that pipe-weed to
Isengard. . . perhaps he just held a folk-festival every year and the pipe-wedd
came to him.


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