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Did you know that there are plenty of Cotswolds Lord of the Rings locations that you can visit in the UK?
It is well known that J. R. R. Tolkien was an academic in Oxford and so he would spend a lot of time exploring The Cotswolds. Many believe that the countryside here inspired locations in his Legendarium.
From magical portal doors, cosy taverns, dramatic watchtowers, Shire-esque hillsides, and ancient stone circles.
Here is a complete list of all the magical Cotswolds Lord of the Rings locations that will allow you to escape to Middle-Earth!
J. R. R. Tolkien and The Cotswolds
Of course, it’s commonly known that J. R. R. Tolkien was a resident and academic at Oxford. As a professor of English Language and Literature, he would tutor students at both Pembroke and Merton College.
As an author and literary enthusiast, he would become part of the ‘The Inklings’ literary discussion group.
They would gather in The Eagle and Child pub in Oxford. Here, they would discuss the value of fiction and fantasy narratives in the 1930s and 1940s His fellow ‘Inklings’ included the likes of C.S. Lewis who became a close friend.
But, what is not so commonly known, is that Tolkien’s brother lived in Evesham. A small market town in Worcestershire that was the ancestral home to Tolkien’s mother, Mabel Suffield.
Unlike his brother, Hilary Tolkien had an interest in agriculture over academia! So, he bought a small orchard and market garden on the outskirts of Evesham in 1922.
J. R. R. Tolkien and his family visited his farm and stayed many times. According to him, ‘Worcestershire was more like home than any other part of the world’
On many occasions, while he was an academic at Oxford, Tolkien would arrange to meet his brother Hilary in Moreton-in-Marsh. It was the perfect meeting point as it was located halfway between the homes of the two Tolkien brothers.
They would meet up at The Bell Inn Moreton-in-Marsh and have a lengthy catch-up over a pint in a tiny corner of the pub.
What is the Lord of the Rings Cotswolds connection?
Due to his frequent visits to The Cotswolds, it is commonly believed that many towns, hillsides and landmarks here inspired Tolkien’s Legendarium and Middle Earth.
Although most have never been officially verified by the Tolkien Society, it hasn’t stopped avid fans and local societies to make the connections.
The Wold was an area in the Kingdom of Rohan which is a place of rolling hills. Similar to The Cotswolds with its gorgeous ‘shiresque’ countryside.
But, there are also magical portal doors, middle-earth-like pubs, watchtowers, and ancient stone circles that inspired Middle Earth too!
Cotswolds Lord of the Rings locations
If you are a Lord of the Rings fan visiting The Cotswolds it’s easy enough to plan a ‘Tolkien Trip’ to see some of the places that inspired the epic book series.
It’s best to have a car to visit most of these locations but you can take a train to Moreton-in-Marsh from London or Oxford to start your great adventure.
Here are all the magical Cotswolds Lord of the Rings locations where you can escape to Middle Earth!
Hidden away on the grounds of the historic St Edward’s Church in Stow-on-the-Wold is a mystical doorway that looks like a portal that could transport you to another realm.
If you walk around the churchyard towards the north porch, you will stumble upon what’s known locally as ‘The Hobbit door’.
With its studded wooden panels flanked by ancient yew trees and an old oil lamp hanging above it, you would be forgiven for mistaking this door for being something born of Middle Earth.
Indeed, there is a local legend that says J. R. R. Tolkien visited this church and the entrance inspired his Doors of Durin in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
It isn’t too much of a farfetched theory as the elven doors that are unlocked with riddles also had yew trees that flanked them.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to suggest that this was the case. Tolkien’s sketches of the Doors of Durin look very different and no one, so far, has come forward to confirm it – not even the Tolkien society!
Regardless, you must make a stop at this Hobbit-esque door while you’re in The Cotswolds.
2. The Bell Inn, Moreton-in-Marsh
Tolkien would regularly meet up with his brother Hilary Tolkien at The Bell Inn Moreton-in-Marsh and the pub has immortalised this area with a ‘Tolkien Corner’!
As soon as you walk in, you’ll see a huge Middle Earth map on the back wall. There are also some photos of Tolkien and some of these Lord of the Rings Cotswolds locations too.
But, beyond being one of Tolkien’s old haunts, it is highly likely that The Bell Inn inspired The Prancing Pony in Lord of the Rings.
Although there is no evidence or records from Tolkien to suggest that this is the case. It is commonly agreed upon that this cosy Cotswolds pub was an inspiration.
So much so, that a local Tolkien Society Group called The Three Farthing Stones Smial awarded the pub with a blue plaque!
It hangs proudly outside the pub as attribution that this pub was the inspiration for The Prancing Pony in The Lord of the Rings.
Although many would disagree with this statement. According to the Smial group, there are too many overwhelming comparisons between this pub and the one in Middle Earth for it not to be the case.
The town of Moreton-in-Marsh is similar to Bree with it’s watchtower, ‘meeting of ways’ and the layouts of the two pubs are eerily similar too.
3. The Four Shire Stone
The Four Shire Stone near Moreton-in-Marsh is a waymarker that stands at the former meeting point of four counties of The Cotswolds.
The pillar was constructed centuries ago to mark the meeting place of four English counties. Those are Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, and Worcestershire.
Many people visit this pillar today as there is a strong possibility that this place inspired J. R. R. Tolkien.
It’s actually been confirmed by a local Tolkien Society who claims that this pillar inspired the “Three Farthing Stone” in the Lord Of The Rings.
In the books, the Hobbit’s homeland is called the Shire and it’s divided into four farthings. Three of those farthings meet at the Three-Farthing Stone and these are Westfarthing, Southfarthing, and Eastfarthing.
The Three-Farthing Stone lies on the Great East Road between By-Water and Green-hill country. Which, you could compare to the Four Shire Stone as it lies on the Great A44 road.
Plus, we know that the boundary lines of Worcestershire changed in 1931 which would also tie in with the fact that only three of the four farthings meet at the stone in the Shire.
4. Broadway Tower
The Broadway Tower is a Saxon-style folly in The Cotswolds which is known as ‘Cotswolds Highest Castle’ as it sits up high on the Cotswold Escarpment.
It was designed by Capability Brown and has connections to William Morris who frequented it as his holiday home.
It is also rumoured to be Tolkien’s inspiration for The Seat of Amon Hen tower in the Lord Of The Rings.
This is where The Company make camp until they are attached by the Uruk-Hai which results in a skirmish. Boromir falls and Frodo and Sam are forced to make the journey with the ring alone.
The books portray this tower to be far grander than in the movies. I have to admit a dark, creepy tower is not how I imagined it as a child!
Amon Hen has ‘The Seat of Seeing’ on top. An ancient chair and observation point which allows it to see all. This is much like the Broadway Tower where you can see for miles!
Another connection is that Tolkien admired William Morris’ fantasy stories and drew inspiration from ‘The Well at the World’s End’.
This includes characters like Gondolf along with kings, elves, and dwarves who go on a journey during a fantasy middle ages!
5. The Rollright Stones
The Rollright Stones are a series of three megalithic sites that includes an ancient stone circle in Oxfordshire. They are Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments near the village of Long Compton.
There are many famous legends surrounding these stones that have gained them the nicknames of The King’s Stone, The King’s Men, and the Whispering Knight.
Supposedly, a witch called Mother Shipton challenged a King and he lost the bargain which meant that he and all of his soldiers were turned into stone.
The Rollright Stones are thought to be Tolkien’s inspiration for the Barrow-Downs in Lord of the Rings.
In the books, this was an ancient site that marked the resting place for the men of Dunedain and the Northern Kingdom.
This is where the hobbits meet an evil Barrow-Wight and it makes sense as these stones are supposedly the King and the King’s Men.
6. Bredon Hill
Bredon Hill in Worcestershire is another place that is thought to have inspired Tolkien and The Lord of the Rings.
There are two megalithic stones on top of the hill called the King and Queen stones that are steeped in legends!
It is said that whoever passes through these stones would be cured of illness and it even is said to be a fertility treatment.
It is thought that Bredon Hill inspired the Trollshaws in Middle-Earth. This is a woodland area near to Rivendell.
If you remember in The Hobbit, Bilbo and the dwarves are caught by three trolls called William, Tom and Bert who try to cook them!
Gandalf later hatches a plan of distraction and turns them into stone. Later, Frodo is making his way over to Riverdell and visits the same stones.
It’s thought that the King and Queen’s stones on Bredon Hill inspired this part of the story! So, watch out for trolls on your visit.
7. Chipping Campden
Although Chipping Campden is not an inspiration for Lord of the Rings, it is said that Tolkien stayed here on his visits to The Cotswolds.
His personal correspondence revealed that he stayed at The Red Lion Inn with his son Michael on multiple occasions.
He said that it was his favourite place to stay in the area and the pub’s landlord received a special signed copy of The Lord of the Rings!
Chipping Campden is a gorgeous market town in The Cotswolds filled with rows of historic buttercream houses.
You can visit the ancient Market Hall, Almshouses, St James’ historic wool church, and the stunning Hidcote Gardens protected by the National Trust.
Oxfordshire is another county with strong links to J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien was an academic at Oxford and a tutor of students at both Pembroke and Merton College.
He would often explore wider Oxfordshire, Berkshire Downs (previously) and the Vale of the White Horse.
It is said that he used much of Uffington to inspire places in his Legendarium both in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien’s son, Christopher, believed that Dragon Hill was used as inspiration for Weathertop. This is where Frodo is stabbed by a Ringwraith.
Also, many say that the ancient hill scarring of Uffington White Horse represents the sigil for the Kingdom of Rohan.
Nearby, you have Wayland’s Smithy which is a Neolithic burial chamber on the Ridgeway Trail.
It is said that Tolkien used this spot to inspire the Barrow-Downs. This is where Frodo and the hobbits encounter the evil Barrow-Wights.
Even more Lord of the Rings locations in the UK
After your Lord of the Rings visit to The Cotswolds, there are plenty of places in the UK that are related to Tolkien.
After Tolkien moved to the UK from South Africa, he lived in a total of nine houses in south Birmingham from 1895 to 1911.
There is a Birmingham Tolkien Trail you can follow here that allows you to see the places that inspired his books. Places like Sareshole Mill, Moseley Bog, and Perrot’s Folly are among them!
Another Tolkien Trail can be found in the Ribble Valley of Lancashire! Tolkien spent a lot of time working on Lord of the Rings whilst in Stonyhurst College during the Second World War.
It’s a five-and-a-half-mile walk that will take you into the countryside! You’ll see lots of familiar names on the way like Shire Lane and the River Shirebourn.
Why not visit Hobbiton in New Zealand?
A huge bucket list item for me was to visit the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, New Zealand!
As a lifelong fan, it felt surreal to take a tour and see Bilbo’s Bag End for myself. No admittance, exception party business of course!
You’ll get to visit some of the Hobbit Houses, learn lots of behind-the-scenes magic, and finish your tour with a pint and some ‘Second Breakfast’ in the Dragon Inn.
It’s not the cheapest trip from the UK and certainly not the cheapest attraction but it’s a must-visit for any LOTR fan.
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