I checked the book and the wikipedia and summarized some of the timeline of Gandalf:

TA 3018, April 12 - Gandalf check the One Ring with Frodo in the Shire, tells Frodo that he must leave the Shire with the One Ring. )

TA 3018, April 13 - Gandalf left Shire.

TA 3018, June ( SR 1418 ) - Gandalf met with Radagast at the south of Shire.

TA 3018, June ( SR 1418 ) - Gandalf spent a night in Bree, give Butterbur a letter to send to Frodo, told him to leave Shire before July, the letter was never sent due to forgetfulness of Butterbur.

TA 3018, July 10 - Gandalf is arrested in Orthanc, by the traitor Saruman.

TA 3018, September 18 - Gandalf escapes Orthanc in the first hours of the day.

Why did Gandalf leave Frodo with the One Ring in TA 3018 April? If he took Frodo and the One Ring immediately to Rivendell there would be less trouble.


I've made a mistake, it turns out Gandalf stayed with Frodo for 2 months in Shire. Now it make sense.**

  • Related, but I'm not sure it's a dupe: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/28239/… Apr 6, 2015 at 11:55
  • I've made a mistake, it turns out Gandalf stayed with Frodo for 2 months in Shire. Now it make sense. Apr 6, 2015 at 13:34
  • It's the seventeen years between this period and the day when he first saw the magic ring that can destroy the whole world that I wonder about. Aug 15, 2023 at 14:53

2 Answers 2


At least part of the objective was for Frodo to be able to leave secretly, so as to not draw too much attention to himself. This is confirmed by the opening of the chapter Three is Company:

'You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon,' said Gandalf. Two or three weeks had passed, and still Frodo made no sign of getting ready to go.

'I know. But it is difficult to do both,' he objected. If I just vanish like Bilbo, the tale will be all over the Shire in no time.'

'Of course you mustn't vanish!' said Gandalf. 'That wouldn't do at all! I said soon, not instantly. If you can think of any way of slipping out of the Shire without its being generally known, it will be worth a little delay. But you must not delay too long.'

Following this exchange, Frodo and Gandalf had resolved that Frodo's departure date was going to be on his (and Bilbo's) birthday, which Frodo duly followed through on; but then - in Gandalf's note to Frodo to be delivered via Butterbur - we read (in the chapter Strider):

Bad news has reached me here. I must go off at once. You had better leave Bag End soon, and get out of the Shire before the end of July at latest.

So obviously something had changed, but what? The answer is given in Gandalf's discussion of his delay at The Council of Elrond:

At the end of June I was in the Shire ... I came upon a traveller sitting on a bank beside the road with his grazing horse beside him. It was Radagast the Brown ...

"I have an urgent errand," he said. "My news is evil." Then he looked about him, as if the hedges might have ears. "Nazgûl," he whispered. "The Nine are abroad again. They have crossed the River secretly and are moving westward. They have taken the guise of riders in black."

Further on, Gandalf confirms that this was what had prompted his letter to Frodo which he had left with Butterbur (and which Butterbur had failed to deliver).

Putting it all together we can then say that:

  • Gandalf had fully recognised the danger at the time he had discovered that Frodo's Ring was the One, but:
  • At the time it was felt important that Frodo's departure should be kept secret so as to not draw attention, and:
  • Gandalf was not aware at the time that the Nazgûl were abroad and seeking for the Shire, and:
  • As soon as he became aware of it, he modified the plan and attempted to advise Frodo to leave sooner.

I've emphasised what seems to me the most important point here; for sure leaving earlier would have avoided trouble, but since Gandalf didn't know that the Nazgûl were about, he had no reason to suspect that there would have been any such trouble.

  • I pretty much agree with this. I have also always assumed that Gandalf found it important to inform Saruman as fast as possible.
    – Jaciq
    Apr 6, 2015 at 12:08
  • It doesn't explain why Gandalf left Frodo immediately. And does it really need 2 months to reach Saruman? Gandalf didn't reach Saruman until June. What was he doing in between the time? Apr 6, 2015 at 12:50
  • 14
    It is a bit of a journey from Bree down the Greenway and to the Gap of Rohan (at least 525 miles or 42 days according to theoriginalseries.com/traveltimes.htm, which always seemed fairly realistic estimates to me) and he doesn't have Shadowfax yet. Since there is no place to change to a fresh horse he actually did quite good.
    – BMWurm
    Apr 6, 2015 at 13:01

If he and frodos left together immediately, it would have not taken long to be noticed. The original plan of pretending to move to crickhollow made sense to the rumour mongering neighbors.

  • 1
    This appears to be noted in the existing answer; do you have anything different or missing to add to it?
    – DavidW
    Aug 15, 2023 at 0:11

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