An ancient remnant of the great forest that once covered much of Eriador. Most of this forest was removed, in the Second Age, by the Númenorians for their shipbuilding industry.

The Old Forest was located just to the east of the Shire between the Brandywine River and the Barrow Downs and was crossed by the River Withywindle, a tributary of the Brandywine.

When hobbits from the Shire established Buckland on the eastern bank of the Brandywine they grew The Hedge (The High Hay) along the edge of the Old Forest to protect themselves from it. At one time the forest grew right up to The Hedge and began attacking it, but the Hobbits cut down and burned many of trees in a strip along The Hedge, in a huge bonfire resulting in the formation of the Bonfire Glade - a short distance into the forest from a gate near the Village of Crickhollow.

The Old Forest was a dark and malicious place, and dangerous for travellers. The undergrowth and the ruts and ridges on the forest floor all seemed designed to force travellers to end up in the valley of the Withywindle near the base of an evil-hearted, enchanted tree known as Old Man Willow.

At the eastern edge of the Old Forest, on a grassy knoll on the banks of the Withywindle, was the house of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry.
Encyclopedia entry originally written by PotbellyHairyfoot