||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: repetitive. (September 2012)|
|Place from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium|
|Description||A remnant of the primordial forests of Eriador|
|Location||East of the Shire|
Old Man Willow
The Old Forest was one of the few survivors of the primordial forests which had covered most of Eriador before the Second Age, indeed it had once been but the northern edge of one immense forest which reached all the way to Fangorn forest. It was bordered on the east by the Barrow-downs, and on the west by the High Hay (also known as the Hedge), a large hedge which the Hobbits of Buckland cultivated after they cut the forest to make room for their new homes.
The Hobbits believed the trees of the Old Forest were in some manner 'awake', and were hostile. They sway when there is no wind, whisper at night, and mislead travellers deeper into the forest. When the trees grew too close to the Hedge, hobbits cut down the trees nearest and created a clearing by a bonfire. Ever since then, the trees were more hostile. Deep within the Old Forest was the Withywindle Valley, a dark, evil and malevolent place which was the root of all the terrors of the forest.
Just before the War of the Ring, the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took crossed through it trying to escape from the Black Riders. This is detailed in the The Fellowship of the Ring, in the chapter called "The Old Forest." According to this chapter, the trees had attacked Buckland much earlier by planting themselves next to the Hedge and leaning over. After this, the hobbits cleared a long strip of land on the outside of the Hedge and created a large bonfire in an area that later became known as The Bonfire Glade. After this, the trees became much more unfriendly to the hobbits.
At the south-eastern edge of the forest, on the bank of the river Withywindle, stood the house of Tom Bombadil, who rescued Pippin and Merry when they were trapped by a tree Tom called Old Man Willow.
The Old Forest does not appear in the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, neither the animated nor the live action version, but it is mentioned by Merry in a conversation with Pippin while they were held hostage by the Uruk-hai in The Two Towers. It appears in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), but the game adds a bit of Mirkwood taste by adding on large spiders that lurk in the labyrinth and on the banks of the Withywindle. This is probably to make it more of an action game atmosphere, but nowhere in The Lord of the Rings did Tolkien describe spiders in the Old Forest. Morgoth's creatures did not really darken the Old Forest, but they did enter Mirkwood and darken it. Mirkwood was also not inhabited by moving trees. The Old Forest also appears in Turbine Inc's "The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar" MMORPG. In this game, before a fairly recent patch, there was no map in The Old Forest, and it was like a literal hedge maze. A map was added later on, though it is still a very dark and mysterious place to visit.