Black Crow

Heresy 196 and a look at the Wall

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If the Wall was raised to contain the Others, it's difficult to imagine how something could hold back "a different sort of life" while it was being built. IMO it would seem necessary that a magical, invisible barrier of some type was/is there. The magical weaving of spells had to have come first before the physical construct formed.

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This has relevance to our timelines and the original purpose of the Wall.  Conventional thinking seems to be the Wall was raised at the end of The Long Night to stop The Others.   Now, that doesn't fit with our idea that Long Night lasted a generation.   Nor does it fit with my view that The Children raised The Wall to keep out men or BCs view that raising the Wall created The Long Night. 

The Wall has to have some reason it would be built over hundreds or thousands of years, such as a long, protracted war.  It could have been built in sections and extended if those sections were immediately useful,  but it would need to be relevant over that whole time. 

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I still maintain that The Others and The Wall are both made of ice, with magic,  and probably by the same creators for the same reasons. 

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2 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

If the Wall was raised to contain the Others, it's difficult to imagine how something could hold back "a different sort of life" while it was being built. IMO it would seem necessary that a magical, invisible barrier of some type was/is there. The magical weaving of spells had to have come first before the physical construct formed.

Or the magic is applied to an existing structure at it's base perhaps to the foundation ice whatever height that may have been.  But yes, it's not an effective barrier if you take hundreds of years to build it.  Why bother building it at all;  if the spell  is the only defensive requirement?  Where is the workforce to build such a thing?  

 

Quote

 

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

"Why not?"
"The Wall. The Wall is more than just ice and stone, he said. There are spells woven into it . . . old ones, and strong. He cannot pass beyond the Wall."
 

A Dance with Dragons - Jon I

Jon did not deny it. "The Wall is no place for a woman."
"You are wrong. I have dreamed of your Wall, Jon Snow. Great was the lore that raised it, and great the spells locked beneath its ice. We walk beneath one of the hinges of the world." Melisandre gazed up at it, her breath a warm moist cloud in the air. "This is my place as it is yours, and soon enough you may have grave need of me. Do not refuse my friendship, Jon. I have seen you in the storm, hard-pressed, with enemies on every side. You have so many enemies. Shall I tell you their names?"

 

 
Spells are woven into it and locked beneath the ice perhaps fixing ice to stone.  Great lore raised it:  accumulated knowledge or beliefs held by a group about a subject, especially when passed from generation to generation by oral tradition. Archaic knowledge. We're also given to understand that this particular lock has a key embodied in the horn of winter.  :
 

       

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Brad Stark said:

This has relevance to our timelines and the original purpose of the Wall.  Conventional thinking seems to be the Wall was raised at the end of The Long Night to stop The Others.   Now, that doesn't fit with our idea that Long Night lasted a generation.   Nor does it fit with my view that The Children raised The Wall to keep out men or BCs view that raising the Wall created The Long Night. 

The Wall has to have some reason it would be built over hundreds or thousands of years, such as a long, protracted war.  It could have been built in sections and extended if those sections were immediately useful,  but it would need to be relevant over that whole time. 

Melisandre claims that the war between R'hllor and the Great Other is very old.  If Westeros and Essos were joined into one land mass, more or less then the long night is a world wide event; not something specific to the west.  That does push things into World Book territory with vanished great empires but it does open up the possibility that the First Men, the Cotf, weirwoods were not necessarily confined to the west.  

That takes us into the tinfoil zone where the dead were also raised by ice in northern Essos and used as a weapon against their fiery counterpart destroying what was once the Great Empire.  A frozen khalasar is an interesting notion forced to retreat to the land of always winter and surrounded by the poison water for which they can't cross.   The Dothraki taboos against magic and mages is particularly strong as we see when MMD uses the blood magic ritual.  The reaction from Drogo's bloodriders is swift when they realize what is happening.  This must not be! 

Melisandre also claims to be part of this battle:

I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn, the horn that wakes the sleepers, the shield that guards the realms of men.

For the night is dark and full of terrors!

Edited by LynnS

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Great essay by the way, @LynnS! I've skimmed it since I started my new job this week and don't have all that much time but I'll definitely read through it and if anything is relevant I'll throw out some thoughts. I'm liking what I'm seeing so far though :) 

1 hour ago, LynnS said:

Why bother building it at all;  if the spell  is the only defensive requirement?  Where is the workforce to build such a thing?  

Well there are people like Craster that worship the Others as gods, if there's not a physical barrier what's to stop their followers from waltzing up and messing with the magical barrier (however that would work)?

50 minutes ago, LynnS said:

That takes us into the tinfoil zone where the dead were also raised by ice in northern Essos and used as a weapon against their fiery counterpart destroying what was once the Great Empire.  A frozen khalasar is an interesting notion forced to retreat to the land of always winter and surrounded by the poison water for which they can't cross.   The Dothraki taboos against magic and mages is particularly strong as we see when MMD uses the blood magic ritual.  The reaction from Drogo's bloodriders is swift when they realize what is happening.  This must not be! 

Interesting take, I had a similar idea based on the similarities between the Ifequevron and the Children of the Forest. If it's a direct parallel then it would explain the Dothraki fear of magic and 'ghost grass that would cover the world' quite well.

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3 minutes ago, Cowboy Dan said:

Great essay by the way, @LynnS! I've skimmed it since I started my new job this week and don't have all that much time but I'll definitely read through it and if anything is relevant I'll throw out some thoughts. I'm liking what I'm seeing so far though :) 

Well there are people like Craster that worship the Others as gods, if there's not a physical barrier what's to stop their followers from waltzing up and messing with the magical barrier (however that would work)?

Interesting take, I had a similar idea based on the similarities between the Ifequevron and the Children of the Forest. If it's a direct parallel then it would explain the Dothraki fear of magic and 'ghost grass that would cover the world' quite well.

Well, thanks CB!  Glad you dropped by and great news on the new job!  I'm always happy to hear what you have to say.  That brightens up my day. 

As to Craster or any of the wildlings, as Mance tells Jon, the Wall can't stop one person alone or a few people as we have seen; but it can stop and army.  And the Wall defends itself!  Certainly Othor and Jafr couldn't make it past the Wall by their own devices and Coldhands can't pass; so a physical barrier it makes some sense; but I suspect that Wall itself acts like a giant sponge absorbing and containing the killing cold a separate threat on it's own.  The wildlings are largely unmolested by southron kings north of the wall and I suspect that the Andalization of the Night's Watch and the destruction and replacement of records is largely responsible for the animosity between cultures.  I don't think the Watch always acted as a police force containing the free folk but ended up that way.  The new Watch certainly treats the wildling population with extreme prejudice.

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Look at the border between USA and Mexico.   You have some wall, but a lot of fence and some guarded open space and other places there is nothing at all.  Over time, sections might be added or strengthened. If the border is still there in a few hundred years, we might have something like GRRM'S initial wall (or a few years if you believe Trump).  This current border didn't take much time to put in place and is immediately useful. 

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   If Westeros and Essos were joined into one land mass, more or less then the long night is a world wide event; not something specific to the west.  That does push things into World Book territory with vanished great empires but it does open up the possibility that the First Men, the Cotf, weirwoods were not necessarily confined to the west.  

The Wall is almost even with Essos's North border.  I doubt that is significant, but it makes it impossible to speculate it being outside Westeros. 

The Long Night was referenced by Rhoyn and Ghis, so it isn't a Westeros only event.  It might have been more significant there since land goes further North, or it seems more significant because of our perspective. 

First Men, Children and Weirwoods are almost certainly Westeros only, since we have no reference to any of them in Essos.

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We've all connected The Wall with The Long Night,  but these are separate events.  The Wall was constructed over hundreds or thousands of years, while The Long Night was only a generation or two.  

The Wall could have been started before The Long Night.  This doesn't make much sense to me if The Others weren't around yet, unless The Children built it themselves to guard against men.  I can see them doing that magically, but I don’t see them carrying blocks of ice and stacking them neatly for hundreds of years. 

The Wall could have been started after The Long Night if The Others were still a threat, but not if they disappeared completely.  The first few generations after would have strong motivation to build the wall, but after that,  no one would care. 

The Wall could have been started before The Long Night and finished after,  but I don’t see any senerio where that makes sense. 

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Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

This has relevance to our timelines and the original purpose of the Wall.  Conventional thinking seems to be the Wall was raised at the end of The Long Night to stop The Others.   Now, that doesn't fit with our idea that Long Night lasted a generation.   Nor does it fit with my view that The Children raised The Wall to keep out men or BCs view that raising the Wall created The Long Night. 

The Wall has to have some reason it would be built over hundreds or thousands of years, such as a long, protracted war.  It could have been built in sections and extended if those sections were immediately useful,  but it would need to be relevant over that whole time. 

There is I think a difference between completeness and height. The first I take to be completing the length of it 300 miles from sea to shining sea, but as to how it was completed and the business of its increasing height I think that both can be resolved if we think of the Wall as a living thing created by magic, not merely defending itself but repairing itself and growing, initially outwards from its point of origin [the Nightfort?] until it reaches the salt and at the same time upwards, just as a beech hedge will grow into a line of tall beech trees.

Edited by Black Crow

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3 hours ago, LynnS said:

Or the magic is applied to an existing structure at it's base perhaps to the foundation ice whatever height that may have been.  But yes, it's not an effective barrier if you take hundreds of years to build it.  Why bother building it at all;  if the spell  is the only defensive requirement?  Where is the workforce to build such a thing?  

 

 
Spells are woven into it and locked beneath the ice perhaps fixing ice to stone.  Great lore raised it:  accumulated knowledge or beliefs held by a group about a subject, especially when passed from generation to generation by oral tradition. Archaic knowledge. We're also given to understand that this particular lock has a key embodied in the horn of winter.  :
 

       

IMO it's the magical ward/barrier that is the impediment than the physical size of it. Magic itself is what was contained, and the weaving of spells prevented people from working magic south of the Wall. The physicality of the Wall grew over time and physically prevented people from passing...at least not easily. The height is meant to give the Watch time to defend it.

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Posted (edited)

Is it possible The Wall grew passively?  I.e. 300 years of slaves placing ice blocks, and whatever magic keeps The Wall from becoming a big pile of slush is also making it taller,  giving us the thousands of years to reach its present height without thousands of years of labor?

Edited by Brad Stark

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54 minutes ago, Black Crow said:

There is I think a difference between completeness and height. The first I take to be completing the length of it 300 miles from sea to shining sea, but as to how it was completed and the business of its increasing height I think that both can be resolved if we think of the Wall as a living thing created by magic, not merely defending itself but repairing itself and growing, initially outwards from its point of origin [the Nightfort?] until it reaches the salt and at the same time upwards, just as a beech hedge will grow into a line of tall beech trees.

Oh, I like it.  The Black Gate as a locus for spreading magic or growing from a particular point.  That's very organic Black Crow!  :cheers:

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27 minutes ago, LynnS said:

Oh, I like it.  The Black Gate as a locus for spreading magic or growing from a particular point.  That's very organic Black Crow!  :cheers:

Thank you. I like to think of it as an elegantly simple and straightforward solution which fits what we know and doesn't raise more questions than it answers

:commie:

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1 hour ago, Black Crow said:

...if we think of the Wall as a living thing created by magic, not merely defending itself but repairing itself and growing, initially outwards from its point of origin [the Nightfort?] until it reaches the salt and at the same time upwards, just as a beech hedge will grow into a line of tall beech trees.

This is, roughly speaking, the way I've been envisioning the Wall's early development as well--whatever element of physical labor went into its growth, I think that came well after the "foundation" (both magically and physically) had already been lain, and that the Nightfort is the center of the Wall's magic.

To get far more speculative, I suspect that the very earliest lords (kings?) of the Nightfort were far more 'magical' in nature, and that their purpose was to oversee the continued growth of the Wall, and perhaps to ensure that the Pact is respected on both ends (eg, no men begin destroying the Haunted Forest, and nothing nasty from the Haunted Forest passes into the realms of men), and that things were changed with the ouster of the Night's King.

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Posted (edited)

11 minutes ago, Matthew. said:

This is, roughly speaking, the way I've been envisioning the Wall's early development as well--whatever element of physical labor went into its growth, I think that came well after the "foundation" (both magically and physically) had already been lain, and that the Nightfort is the center of the Wall's magic.

To get far more speculative, I suspect that the very earliest lords (kings?) of the Nightfort were far more 'magical' in nature, and that their purpose was to oversee the continued growth of the Wall, and perhaps to ensure that the Pact is respected on both ends (eg, no men begin destroying the Haunted Forest, and nothing nasty from the Haunted Forest passes into the realms of men), and that things were changed with the ouster of the Night's King.

Yeah, I can go with that too...:cheers:

But by way of a digression: who - or what - haunts the Haunted Forest?

 

Edited by Black Crow

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According to a Rolling Stone interview with GRRM the Wall was inspired by Hadrian's Wall.  Hadrian's is a 3rd of the length, approximately 50 times shorter and not nearly as wide.  It took 6 years to construct Hadrian's Wall.  Depending on the workforce available and the amount of assistance from magic and/or nature, it seems reasonable that the Wall could have been constructed in a generation. 

 

Another interesting aspect is the distance between castles.  It's not out-right stated but 19 castles along 300 miles of Wall is about 15 miles.  That's about a 6 hour walk for an average person in average conditions.  Faster on horseback. 

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Posted (edited)

On 2/27/2017 at 4:10 PM, Black Crow said:

Many, many thanks to Ravenous Reader, Crystal Feather and Yield for assistance and support.  Their generosity is boundless! 

My pleasure :wub:.  Great to see the finished product polished to a gleaming brilliance, just like the Wall itself on a sunny day-- well done!

I'm glad I could help and that someone as exacting as @JNR enjoyed those two examples of my particular brand of eloquence ;).

9 hours ago, LynnS said:

The Wall could represent a terminal moraine stopped from advancing; where the glacier continued to act as a conveyor belt of ice and stone before receding leaving the foundation ice of the Wall in place.  I'm still inclined to think that the CotF use what is available to them in the landscape.

Quote

A terminal moraine, also called end moraine, is a type of moraine that forms at the snout (edge) of a glacier, marking its maximum advance. At this point, debris that has accumulated by plucking and abrasion, and has been pushed by the front edge of the ice, is driven no further and instead is dumped in a heap. Because the glacier acts very much like a conveyor belt, the longer it stays in one place, the greater the amount of material that will be deposited. The moraine is left as the marking point of the terminal extent of the ice.[1]

Examples

Terminal moraines are one of the most prominent types of moraines in the Arctic. One famous terminal moraine is the Giant's Wall in Norway which, according to legend, was built by giants to keep intruders out of their realm.

I like the idea of the terminal moraine.  Have you seen pictures of the 'Troll's Wall' or Trollveggen  in Norway -- quite spectacular!  Reading about it, I found it interesting that the rock is not solid but held together by ice, which when it melts renders the rockface more brittle and subject to rockfalls -- which is a good analogy for the Wall which is similarly composed of a mixture of gravel and ice as you've highlighted; and I suppose one might also align the Wall with @LmL's potential comet (since comets are also basically mixtures of ice and gravel!)

The idea of the Wall being some form of glacier is suggested by GRRM himself when he explicitly likens the Milkwater glacier to the Wall in Jon's warging reconnaissance 'dream' via Ghost:

Quote

A Clash of Kings - Jon VII

And suddenly he was back in the mountains, his paws sunk deep in a drift of snow as he stood upon the edge of a great precipice. Before him the Skirling Pass opened up into airy emptiness, and a long vee-shaped valley lay spread beneath him like a quilt, awash in all the colors of an autumn afternoon.

A vast blue-white wall plugged one end of the vale, squeezing between the mountains as if it had shouldered them aside, and for a moment he thought he had dreamed himself back to Castle Black. Then he realized he was looking at a river of ice several thousand feet high. Under that glittering cold cliff was a great lake, its deep cobalt waters reflecting the snowcapped peaks that ringed it. There were men down in the valley, he saw now; many men, thousands, a huge host. Some were tearing great holes in the half-frozen ground, while others trained for war. He watched as a swarming mass of riders charged a shield wall, astride horses no larger than ants. The sound of their mock battle was a rustling of steel leaves, drifting faintly on the wind. Their encampment had no plan to it; he saw no ditches, no sharpened stakes, no neat rows of horse lines. Everywhere crude earthen shelters and hide tents sprouted haphazardly, like a pox on the face of the earth. He spied untidy mounds of hay, smelled goats and sheep, horses and pigs, dogs in great profusion. Tendrils of dark smoke rose from a thousand cookfires.

The description of a glacier as a 'river of ice' is also suggestive of a greenseer potentially using 'water magic' to 'raise' the Wall -- as Garin did when he raised the Rhoyne.  Let's remember that ice is just the solid phase of water -- so if you can magically manipulate water, you can manipulate ice!

5 hours ago, LynnS said:

Spells are woven into it and locked beneath the ice perhaps fixing ice to stone.  Great lore raised it:  accumulated knowledge or beliefs held by a group about a subject, especially when passed from generation to generation by oral tradition. Archaic knowledge. We're also given to understand that this particular lock has a key embodied in the horn of winter.  :

I love your idea of GRRM's use of the word 'lock' suggesting a companion key to go with it!

We've already seen a demonstration of a key unlocking a spellbound door affiliated with the deepest foundation of the Wall, when Sam says the Night's Watch words -- THE WORDS ARE THE KEY -- to unlock the weirwood door through which Bran and co. then pass.  Specifically, Sam says 'I am the sword', so THE WORDS ARE THE SWORD that can puncture a way through.

Similarly, the horn of winter will issue a magic sound that will act as a sword:

Quote

A Feast for Crows - The Drowned Man

But others were holding their tongues, or muttering asides to their neighbors. "No craven's peace!" Ralf the Limper roared. Red Ralf Stonehouse swirled the Greyjoy banner and bellowed, "Victarion! VICTARION! VICTARION!" Men began to shove at one another. Someone flung a pinecone at Asha's head. When she ducked, her makeshift crown fell off. For a moment it seemed to the priest as if he stood atop a giant anthill, with a thousand ants in a boil at his feet. Shouts of "Asha!" and "Victarion!" surged back and forth, and it seemed as though some savage storm was about to engulf them all. The Storm God is amongst us, the priest thought, sowing fury and discord.

Sharp as a swordthrust, the sound of a horn split the air.

Bright and baneful was its voice, a shivering hot scream that made a man's bones seem to thrum within him. The cry lingered in the damp sea air: aaaaRREEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

 

3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

There is I think a difference between completeness and height. The first I take to be completing the length of it 300 miles from sea to shining sea, but as to how it was completed and the business of its increasing height I think that both can be resolved if we think of the Wall as a living thing created by magic, not merely defending itself but repairing itself and growing, initially outwards from its point of origin [the Nightfort?] until it reaches the salt and at the same time upwards, just as a beech hedge will grow into a line of tall beech trees.

Are you saying that the Wall was designed by a 'gardener not an architect'..?  :laugh:

I've previously mentioned to Lynn that there may be a parallel between Winterfell -- which is described as a giant, sprawling monster of a stone tree -- and the Wall -- which may similarly be a giant, sprawling monster of an ice/stone tree with the Black Gate at its heart.  Unlike you BC, I believe the 'Black Gate' is a living weirwood entombed in its own organic labyrinth, not merely a weirwood artifact like the Moon Door or the door of the HOBAW.  Going with your thesis about Winterfell as a prison, if the symmetry holds, then the Wall may also be a prison as well as a tomb in which someone is buried alive (there are clues in the 79 sentinels planted in the wall like seeds; and @GloubieBoulga has compared the Wall to Snow White's 'glass coffin' in which she 'sleeps' in her 'undead' state waiting to be released from the enchantment holding her thrall).

Edited by ravenous reader

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39 minutes ago, ravenous reader said:

 

Are you saying that the Wall was designed by a 'gardener not an architect'..?  :laugh:

 

Exactly so B)

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