Rhosgobel was the home of the Wizard (S. Istar) Radagast the Brown. Located at the western edge of the Narrows of Mirkwood, near the confluence of the Woodman Trail and the Râd Angálaladh, this enchanted refuge was a celebration of the abundant forms of Endorean life. Nothing in the home had been created by the human hand, save the hundreds of bird houses that Radagast himself had made. Everything else in the house was just as nature made it, with perhaps a touch of human ingenuity, down to the massive furry oak tree th at twisted its way up through the middle of Radagast's home. When Radagast found his way from Aman into Middle-earth and started wandering with his friend Gandalf, he found enchantment with the forms of trees that grew beneath the western eaves of Greenwood. He roamed the woods from one end to another, until he finally found the place he wished to call home. There, not far from the deepening Shadow of Dol Guldur, he met an ancient tree whose spirit was akin to his own, one of the Olvar he favored most. This tree pledged friendship until they sought a parting. Named "Rhosgobel," it became the heart of the house by the same name. Radagast kept the most extensive herb garden in Middle-earth, and many of the Free Peoples who lived in the forest seek Rhosgobel in times of need.
After Radagast's went on eternal wandership the place became a small settlement of the Woodmen.
The Legend of Rhosgobel
Many legends surrounded Rhosgobel. Some said it was created in an instant, in a time beyond memory. Others talked of Elven craft. A few spun yarns of a house which grew out of the land like a tree. One tale, however, was a favorite among the Northmen:
"During his wanderings he charmed into his service the birds and beasts who knew how to make a tree a home. He first had to convince the birds that he did not wish to fly into the branches of his favorite tree and roost there, but rather to create four walls around it. But once they understood his desires, they set about his business. "The bright-winged orioles set about weaving walls out of feathers and reeds, twigs and grasses. The squirrels brought leaves and twigs for building materials, and the mud daubers set about cementing those walls with mud that they mixed with the waters of the Great River. The bare shell of a building, a ra ther irregular curving set of walls that surrounded the central furry oak trunk, was completed in a magical seven days. But ever since then, Radagast and his troupes of friendly animals have been fussing and rebuilding—adding windows here and shelv- ing there—over the past six hundred years, until now to a visitor's eye the place looks like an astonishing mu- seum."
The inner dimensions of Rhosgobel measure 30 feet by 20 feet, and the ceiling hangs rises 12 feet above the floor. The south- and west- facing windows are hung with gossamer curtains woven by well-meaning spiders, now all but extinct among the trees of Mirkwood. A step-ladder winds around the gnarled trunk of the furry oak tree at the center of Rhosgobel. By climbing the ladder one ascends up into the lookout, a room that looks uncannily like a wasp's nest (it was built for Radagast by paper wasps) and sits atop the highest bough of the massive furry oak tree, 50 feet above ground level. From that lookout one can glimpse the glimmer of the River Anduin to the west, and the long, dark expanse of dense forest to the north and east. Ever-present and always merciless, the gleaming jet- black spire of ´Dol Guldur lies in hills to the south. There, amidst the wretched gloom, it carves a haunting scar in the sky above southern Wilderland. Radagast keeps watch on the Hill of Sorcery. The barren hillsides of the Necromancer's lair are usually shrouded in dark clouds, but the Istar's gaze is subtle and penetrating. He monitors any strange movements, and provides the forest with whatever aid he can offer. The Brown Wizard works to stay the Evil, despite the impres- sion that other matters have taken his mind off the neighboring threat. After all, there are always things to tend to at Rhosgobel. Great Hawks brought river-rocks with which to create a lo vely fireplace hearth. Chipmunks brought scraps of bark and smooth stone and installed shelves on which Radagast could store his extensive collection of roots and herbs. Bears brought a large hollow log, thinking that Radagast needed a pot to brew in. The concern of the animals over the years of renovation has been for Radagast's convenience. But all the while Radagast had his mind on renovations other than those for the sake of his own ease. For Radagast's passion was buil ding houses for his birds. He spent the first century of his life at Rhosgobel wandering the forest, learning every method of construc- tion and suspension, every kind of material used naturally by birds to build nests. Then he saw to it that he put into action every trick he had learned from the birds about how to build and hang a birdnest at his home of Rhosgobel. The outer walls of his sylvan home, over the years, had become an intricate collection of bird houses and bird feeders of every sort of description. And once Radagast had built every bird nest he had seen in the forest of Mirkwood, he began using his Wizardly powers to devise bird houses on his own. Needless to say, none of these bird houses wento uninhab- ited. For Rhosgobel was a haven for birds throughout all Middle-earth.
- "Ask any bird about it
- a raven from the Northlands, a Pelican
- from the shores of the southern sea, a duck from the Ettendales. They
- will all say the same thing: at least on
- ce in their lives, they try to visit
- Radagast. The seasons would not turn, I like to say, if the birds did
- not come home to roost at Rhosgobel."
- —Beigavon the Beorning
Indeed the birds and Radagast both followed the seasons. Many of Middle-earth's birds flew north to Rhosgobel, stopping for a time during the annual spring migrations; some stayed throughout summer, but in the winter they returned to their homes across the land. Radagast would find their departure all too saddening if it did not signal the time of year that he began his wanderings. He pulled the curtains shut and blocks up all the doors and windows of Rhosgobel with woven mats and rugs. He checked to make sure that the hatch opening up to the lookout tower was securely locked from within, and with nothing but his long brown robes and a satchel full of herbs and roots he set upon his yearly journey out into the world. Were it not for the Snow Lions who agree to guard the door and grounds of Rhosgobel during the months when Radagast was wandering, he would never leave at all. But the big cats kept the queer place well-protected, and Radagast could an- swer his wanderlust without worry of danger to his home.
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