Lord Vance II

Taking a look at Nagga's Ribs

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On the crown of the hill four-and-forty monstrous stone ribs rose from the earth like the trunks of great pale trees. The sight made Aeron's heart beat faster. Nagga had been the first sea dragon, the mightiest ever to rise from the waves. She fed on krakens and leviathans and drowned whole islands in her wrath, yet the Grey King had slain her and the Drowned God had changed her bones to stone so that men might never cease to wonder at the courage of the first of kings. Nagga's ribs became the beams and pillars of his longhall, just as her jaws became his throne. - AFFC, The Drowned Man

A lot folks on here seem to believe that Nagga's hill and ribs are not what the Ironborn believe they are. The man theory I've seen is that they are the remains of a weirwood grove (like Bloodraven's) and that the Grey King was possibly a greenseer. Other theories, either pioneered or championed by @LmL, holds that there was no Nagga, and the myth stems from a cosmic event that rained meteors causing island-drowning tsunamis. While both are certainly plausible, I was to posit that Nagga's hill is what the Ironborn say it is, or at least close. 

The descriptions of the massive ribs on Nagga's Hill make me doubt the weirwood theory. 

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Victarion joined Nute the Barber at her prow. Ahead loomed the sacred shore of Old Wyk and the grassy hill above it, where the ribs of Nagga rose from the earth like the trunks of great white trees, as wide around as a dromond's mast and twice as tall. - AFFC, The Iron Captain

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On the crown of the hill four-and-forty monstrous stone ribs rose from the earth like the trunks of great pale trees.  - AFFC, The Drowned Man

I can't bend these descriptions to make them weirwoods. Weirwoods are often described and gnarled and twisted with thick trunk and limbs that grow as much out as up. For the ribs to be a petrified tree, I'd expect it to be a fir-type tree that shoots straight up (I guess a sentinel in-world). Even if over the years the limbs had eroded away or cut off, we just don't have examples of mast-straight weirwood trunks. I don't know how tall a dromon's mast would be, but if they're maybe 50 feet, than these are 100 feet? Just doesn't sound like a weirwood to me. The devil's advocacy to this could be that the Grey King warped or twisted the trees, I suppose. 

Also, it's not like Vic and Aeron have never seen a tree trunk before. Their descriptions are specifically saying that the ribs look like tree trunks but aren't. Could their reverence be clouding their view of the structures? Possibly. 

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 These cold, wet, windswept islands were never well forested, and their thin soil did not support the growth of weirwoods. - TWoIaF

Another pretty solid indication. Of course, the Ironborn legends of Ygg almost certainly refer to a weirwood on the Iron Islands, so there is that. The Maester who wrote the world book doesn't know everything, so it could be wrong. And the presence of a greenseer could make them grow. But a source flat out saying there aren't weirwoods on the island make it seem hard to have 44 in two straight columns. 

I know the vast majority of legends of this magnitude are just that. But my gut makes me think this one is real. That there was a Nagga (of some kind) and the great, pale beams are it's somehow preserved ribs. I don't necessarily buy that the Grey King slew Nagga. Maybe within the meteor-is-Nagga framework, the massive tidal wave washed up a massive dead beast. I also can't really figure how the ribs would be preserved, I'm pretty sure something cannot fossilize out in the air.

But if I had everything figured out, I wouldn't be asking. so, thoughts?

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55 minutes ago, Lord Vance II said:

I can't bend these descriptions to make them weirwoods. Weirwoods are often described and gnarled and twisted with thick trunk and limbs that grow as much out as up. For the ribs to be a petrified tree, I'd expect it to be a fir-type tree that shoots straight up

The other theory here is that Nagga's bones are not trees that grew there, but the weirwood frame of a ship's hull that was brought up on land and turned over to make it into a meeting house.

While of course it's hard to get long, straight lumber from a wood that's generally twisted, it's not impossible.

Another possibility is that weiwoods used to be straighter, and something happened, between the landing of the Grey King and now, to gnarl them.

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You say you "can't bend these descriptions to make them weirwoods," but on each of those very descriptions, the author has the POV character compare the ribs to trees. 

Edited by Lost Melnibonean

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On 7/17/2017 at 10:32 AM, GyantSpyder said:

The other theory here is that Nagga's bones are not trees that grew there, but the weirwood frame of a ship's hull that was brought up on land and turned over to make it into a meeting house.

While of course it's hard to get long, straight lumber from a wood that's generally twisted, it's not impossible.

Another possibility is that weiwoods used to be straighter, and something happened, between the landing of the Grey King and now, to gnarl them.

I always agreed with this idea, myself. I practically grew up in marina's as a kid, and this was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the description. Also, the story has a myriad of weirwood objects, and they are all strategically placed in each pov we have.

Here are a few pics to help with the weirwood boat hull visual. It is easy to see how an old hull could be mistaken for a sea behemoth. This kind of goes along with how modern humans thought of dinosaurs as dragons, or whatever, when the bones started popping up. 

http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/b183b9b1c40e41f5b63a7c2ea2d953ba/wooden-ship-skeleton-rotting-hull-of-a-substantial-wooden-boat-rivets-f6rrw5.jpg

http://l7.alamy.com/zooms/d8c760f1b2fb4d7499c1f0a2a6cc4938/boat-ship-skeleton-half-buried-in-sand-ekdw1e.jpg

http://aviadejavu.ru/Images6/FT/FT1929/07/566-1.jpg

Edited by The Fattest Leech

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1 hour ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I always agreed with this idea, myself. I practically grew up in marina's as a kid, and this was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the description. Also, the story has a myriad of weirwood objects, and they are all strategically placed in each pov we have.

Here are a few pics to help with the weirwood boat hull visual. It is easy to see how an old hull could be mistaken for a sea behemoth.

In light of the boating analogy, there might be a pun on 'weirwood rafters'; and 'hull' and 'hall'!

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A Clash of Kings - Catelyn I

"Harrenhal." Every child of the Trident knew the tales told of Harrenhal, the vast fortress that King Harren the Black had raised beside the waters of Gods Eye three hundred years past, when the Seven Kingdoms had been seven kingdoms, and the riverlands were ruled by the ironmen from the islands. In his pride, Harren had desired the highest hall and tallest towers in all Westeros. Forty years it had taken, rising like a great shadow on the shore of the lake while Harren's armies plundered his neighbors for stone, lumber, gold, and workers. Thousands of captives died in his quarries, chained to his sledges, or laboring on his five colossal towers. Men froze by winter and sweltered in summer. Weirwoods that had stood three thousand years were cut down for beams and rafters. Harren had beggared the riverlands and the Iron Islands alike to ornament his dream. And when at last Harrenhal stood complete, on the very day King Harren took up residence, Aegon the Conqueror had come ashore at King's Landing.

Catelyn could remember hearing Old Nan tell the story to her own children, back at Winterfell. "And King Harren learned that thick walls and high towers are small use against dragons," the tale always ended. "For dragons fly." Harren and all his line had perished in the fires that engulfed his monstrous fortress, and every house that held Harrenhal since had come to misfortune. Strong it might be, but it was a dark place, and cursed.

 

The Mystery Knight

"I could tell you, ser," the boy said solemnly, "but I need to learn to hold my tongue."

They seated the hedge knights well below the salt, closer to the doors than to the dais. Whitewalls was almost new as castles went, having been raised a mere forty years ago by the grandsire of its present lord. The smallfolk hereabouts called it the Milk house, for its walls and keeps and towers were made of finely dressed white stone, quarried in the Vale and brought over the mountains at great expense. Inside were floors and pillars of milky white marble veined with gold; the rafters overhead were carved from the bone-pale trunks of weirwoods. Dunk could not begin to imagine what all of that had cost.

The hall was not so large as some others he had known, though. At least we were allowed beneath the roof, Dunk thought as he took his place on the bench 

 

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1 hour ago, ravenous reader said:

In light of the boating analogy, there might be a pun on 'weirwood rafters'; and 'hull' and 'hall'!

 

Aah, this takes me back to my architecture days. 

Yes. If you Google the internet and search for "Boat hull architecture" you can see it is desirable design style. Gorgeous stuff. 

Also, down in Sunspear, the building Sandship is like a boat on land that is turned to stone. 

http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Sunspear

Edited by The Fattest Leech

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I believe the ironborn came from the land west of westeros, 1000s of years before the first men crossed the narrow sea bridge. They wrought ships of weirwood, for their strength against the Deep Ones and monsters of the seas. And maybe a special ship named Nagga was built of massive weirwood beams for a very long , very dangerous unknown open ocean journey, against krakens and storms, waves and leviathans, to a place they didnt know but hoped existed. Maybe there was an ancient cataclysm (metors of black oily stone and other metals) that destroyed most of their civilization, forcing the remnants to build an ancient ark to find land to restart on. Crashing the ark on iron islands, dragged upon shore for shelter or tossed there and broken during a violent deluge after who knows how long a journey. Dead Weirwood petrifies hard as stone over 1000s of years, never rotting, so thatd explain that. Maybe weirwoods over there were straight and tall, and when iron born brought seeds over, westerosse land made them twisted, stunted versions of their original selves, or CoTF warped them over time with magic. Iron islands may have once been fertile and much larger in size, but thousands of years of farming,erosion and anger of the Storm god eventually had striped the land of all nutrients and made it widely unfarmable, but forever their savior islands. They were probably stuck on the islands for most of this time, as they would have been few in number, strangers to the land and possibly afraid to continue on, being content to have what they had. Also not knowing if land laid west beyond the island and unable/unwilling to make such a journey again. Once they did however, they surely found large populations of giants and forest people along the reach, westerland and northern coasts, so they that to contend with if they want to push farther inland. maybe why ironborn started claiming all the riverlands, during first men era and after, when the gaints and cotf were being destroyed. Yet they never really left pyke, wyk, ect. Those were ingrained as their savior lands, no matter where they'd sail to, the iron islands were always home.

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I like the idea it is a ship upturned to make a meeting hall. 

But I'll contribute what I had thought on my first read through too. Though it isn't very exciting. 

I live in Whitby, we have a famous land mark on our west cliff. The Whale bones. They are the jaws of a whale and they are white and hard as well....bones.  and if they were set wider apart they'd look exactly like enormous ribs. Ours have to be replaced every few decades as the North sea is brutal. But in a fantasy setting, I can see a great hall of forty-four sets of whale bones lasting like Nagga's ribs have. I too thought that it was likely an ancient meeting hall. 

 

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/whitby-whale-bone-arch

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On 17/07/2017 at 11:02 PM, Lord Vance II said:


Another pretty solid indication. Of course, the Ironborn legends of Ygg almost certainly refer to a weirwood on the Iron Islands, so there is that. The Maester who wrote the world book doesn't know everything, so it could be wrong. And the presence of a greenseer could make them grow. But a source flat out saying there aren't weirwoods on the island make it seem hard to have 44 in two straight columns.

But if I had everything figured out, I wouldn't be asking. so, thoughts?

Even Jon's breath is taken away at seeing as many as 9 weirwoods in the grove in the haunted forest when he say his words of the Night's Watch, telling us that it was even rare to see as many as 3 in the Wolf Woods near Winterfell. I support your idea in this regard.

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On 7/17/2017 at 10:32 AM, GyantSpyder said:

The other theory here is that Nagga's bones are not trees that grew there, but the weirwood frame of a ship's hull that was brought up on land and turned over to make it into a meeting house.

 

5 hours ago, Rickard of House Rakkoon said:

I believe the ironborn came from the land west of westeros, 1000s of years before the first men crossed the narrow sea bridge

I've seen this theory before and do like it, so far as that the Ironborn aren't First Men. A massive weirwood ship would be as good a mode as any to get across the sea from the west. My main reservation is that out of anyone, certainly ironborn could identify the remains of a ship, although Vic does say it reminds him of a ships frame. But I could see how tradition and religion could make them see it differently. 

9 hours ago, The Fattest Leech said:

I always agreed with this idea, myself. I practically grew up in marina's as a kid, and this was the first thing that popped into my head when I read the description

 

2 hours ago, The Weirwoods Eyes said:

I live in Whitby, we have a famous land mark on our west cliff. The Whale bones.

I'm surrounded by mountains and mines, so definitely out of my frame of reference haha, but I can definitely see what your talking about. I certainly like the idea of it being an overturned ship over it being a petrified weirwood grove. 

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yeah, it was obviously for me the first thing I thought of on reading about Nagga's ribs. As they are such an integral part of my own childhood memories; I recall staring up at them whilst eating an ice cream and being amazed at the size of them, and imagining how enormous the creature they came from must have been. 

Still, when I see them if I go into town, I can't help thinking about how big the whale must have been despite the fact that they are not as big now as the whale bones of my youth, partially as I am bigger obviously. but also as they replaced them and the new ones just are not as big. 

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We are specifically told that the Grey King made his longship out of a white demon tree that ate men.  That is obviously him cutting down a weirwood and making a ship out of it.

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Here is a picture of a shipwrecked boat  and here is a depiction of Nagga's bones:agree:  The symbolism points toward this as well.  Nagga is a big ole boat.

 

When last he’d seen Lordsport, it had been a smoking wasteland, the skeletons of burnt longships and smashed galleys littering the stony shore like the bones of dead leviathans, the houses no more than broken walls and cold ashes.

 

When the wildlings had begun knocking it together, Satin thought they were building a ship. Not far wrong. The turtle was a hull turned upside down and opened fore and aft; a longhall on wheels.

 

last the dun-colored Sandship, looking like some monstrous dromond that had washed ashore and turned to stone.

 

 

 

Edited by Crowfood's Daughter

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