Black Crow

Heresy 206: of Starks and Walls

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Welcome to Heresy 206, the latest version of the long-running and rather quirky thread where we take an in-depth look at the story and in particular what GRRM has referred to as the real conflict, not the Game of Thrones, but the Song of Ice and Fire and the apparent threat which lies in the North, hidden in the Haunted Forest and those magical Otherlands which lie beyond the Wall.

 The thread is called Heresy because we miserable heretics were the first to challenge the orthodoxy that the Wall is the last best hope of mankind; to question whether the three-fingered tree-huggers really are the kindly elves Bran once thought them to be and above all question too the popular assumption that Jon Snow is some bloke prophesied way out east and known there as Azor Ahai, who is going to ride out of the sunrise on a dragon, save the world by immolating the Icy lot and then ascend the Iron Throne to reign over dust and ashes. Instead we’re increasingly wondering whether the Starks might have a rather dark secret in their past, which some of us are beginning to suspect may be gaunt, with characteristic long Stark face and is very very cold. Winter after all is coming and it aint going to be pretty.

 We don’t all of us agree on this, or anything else for that matter, but as a free-ranging discussion group within Westeros we can safely claim to have been around for a while now and discussed an awful lot of stuff over the years since the thread cycle started in late 2011. Some of the ideas have been overtaken by events and some seemingly confirmed by GRRM’s increasingly sparse SSMs and by the earlier stages of the mummers’ version before it firmly moved into weird fan-fiction.

 This remains very firmly a book-based thread no matter what might happen in that parallel but now very different story told by the mummers.

 So dig in, enjoy yourself and if it comes to a fight just remember the local house rules; stick to the text, have respect for the ideas of others and above all conduct the debate with great good humour.

 

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And this a good location to point out that our list of popes (round about 266 popes in more or less 2k years) fits a scaled version of the LC list Sam and Jon discuss. (maybe 998 LCs in maybe 8k years) (7.4 years/pope vs 8 years/LC).

i also want to point out that the Wall is 100 leagues long and can be the core of the Westeros measurement system. It may seem odd that there are exactly 100 leagues, but it would be a good reference for distances. 

And the third thing not right with the Wall is the layout itself: a straight line until Castle Black and the curved form afterwards. This includes the Nightfort which is build in the winded part of the Wall any may even extent into the Gorge. 

 

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39 minutes ago, SirArthur said:

And this a good location to point out that our list of popes (round about 266 popes in more or less 2k years) fits a scaled version of the LC list Sam and Jon discuss. (maybe 998 LCs in maybe 8k years) (7.4 years/pope vs 8 years/LC).

i also want to point out that the Wall is 100 leagues long and can be the core of the Westeros measurement system. It may seem odd that there are exactly 100 leagues, but it would be a good reference for distances. 

And the third thing not right with the Wall is the layout itself: a straight line until Castle Black and the curved form afterwards. This includes the Nightfort which is build in the winded part of the Wall any may even extent into the Gorge. 

 

@LynnS did a very fine essay on the Wall awhile back and she likened the Wall's shape to that of a straight sword hilt with a crooked blade...errr I think that's right. Maybe she could be persuaded to re-share her thoughts about the shape?

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Posted (edited)

26 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

@LynnS did a very fine essay on the Wall awhile back and she likened the Wall's shape to that of a straight sword hilt with a crooked blade...errr I think that's right. Maybe she could be persuaded to re-share her thoughts about the shape?

That's what Benjen says about it:

Quote

A Storm of Swords - Jon IV

The Wall was often said to stand seven hundred feet high, but Jarl had found a place where it was both higher and lower. Before them, the ice rose sheer from out of the trees like some immense cliff, crowned by wind-carved battlements that loomed at least eight hundred feet high, perhaps nine hundred in spots. But that was deceptive, Jon realized as they drew closer. Brandon the Builder had laid his huge foundation blocks along the heights wherever feasible, and hereabouts the hills rose wild and rugged.

He had once heard his uncle Benjen say that the Wall was a sword east of Castle Black, but a snake to the west. It was true. Sweeping in over one huge humped hill, the ice dipped down into a valley, climbed the knife edge of a long granite ridgeline for a league or more, ran along a jagged crest, dipped again into a valley deeper still, and then rose higher and higher, leaping from hill to hill as far as the eye could see, into the mountainous west.

Jarl had chosen to assault the stretch of ice along the ridge. Here, though the top of the Wall loomed eight hundred feet above the forest floor, a good third of that height was earth and stone rather than ice; the slope was too steep for their horses, almost as difficult a scramble as the Fist of the First Men, but still vastly easier to ascend than the sheer vertical face of the Wall itself. And the ridge was densely wooded as well, offering easy concealment. Once brothers in black had gone out every day with axes to cut back the encroaching trees, but those days were long past, and here the forest grew right up to the ice.

The Wall follows the terrain which isn't flat by any means.  It's interesting that Jon says Bran the Builder laid blocks of ice wherever feasible along the heights which leaves open the possibility that the ice wall isn't man-made in places.  A portion of the wall is earth and stone topped with ice.  It's height is anywhere from 700 to 900 feet. 

Considering that a great lore was used to raise the Wall and powerful spells are woven between rock and ice; as a magical construct; it is a sword without a hilt.  

Jon says the Wall defends itself and Orell's eagle may have felt the power of the Wall when he was flying high above it.  @Voice contends that it was the Wall itself that burned Orell's eagle when it crossed the ward rather than Melisandre and I think this might be true.   White Walkers and the undead can't pass or they will burn and this seems to be true of skinchanged animals or wargs.  This might be the answer to GRRM's small but significant plot point.

Melisandre also tells us that the power of the Wall can be used.  At least she tells Jon he can use it and I think this is true for Bran as well.  It's possible that Melisandre was drawing from the power of the Wall when she burned Rattleshirt and extended her resources to the sword, the horn and her glamors.  The power nearly gets away from her.

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Jon III

Stannis Baratheon drew Lightbringer.

The sword glowed red and yellow and orange, alive with light. Jon had seen the show before … but not like this, never before like this. Lightbringer was the sun made steel. When Stannis raised the blade above his head, men had to turn their heads or cover their eyes. Horses shied, and one threw his rider. The blaze in the fire pit seemed to shrink before this storm of light, like a small dog cowering before a larger one. The Wall itself turned red and pink and orange, as waves of color danced across the ice. Is this the power of king's blood?

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Melisandre I

She made it sound a simple thing, and easy. They need never know how difficult it had been, or how much it had cost her. That was a lesson Melisandre had learned long before Asshai; the more effortless the sorcery appears, the more men fear the sorcerer. When the flames had licked at Rattleshirt, the ruby at her throat had grown so hot that she had feared her own flesh might start to smoke and blacken. Thankfully Lord Snow had delivered her from that agony with his arrows. Whilst Stannis had seethed at the defiance, she had shuddered with relief.

To go back to Orell's eagle for a moment; I find it curious that although Varamyr has taken his eagle and can sense Orell's presence still in the bird; even after the bird is killed; some part of Orell remains inside Varamyr:

Quote

A Dance with Dragons - Prologue

Varamyr knew the truth of that. When he claimed the eagle that had been Orell's, he could feel the other skinchanger raging at his presence. Orell had been slain by the turncloak crow Jon Snow, and his hate for his killer had been so strong that Varamyr found himself hating the beastling boy as well. He had known what Snow was the moment he saw that great white direwolf stalking silent at his side. One skinchanger can always sense another. Mance should have let me take the direwolf. There would be a second life worthy of a king. He could have done it, he did not doubt. The gift was strong in Snow, but the youth was untaught, still fighting his nature when he should have gloried in it.

 

Edited by LynnS

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Posted (edited)

Copying over some interesting tidbits from the end of the last thread:

From Lady Dyanna:

I was looking through @Sly Wren‘s theory on the Black Gate being Night’s King again last night and saw a comment by @LynnS that started me off on a bit of a tangent. She was speculating that the “blue flower growing from a chink in a wall of ice,” was actually the weirwood sapling that was growing by the well in the Night Fort. I think that she might be correct. What if, in order to stop him, and the magic, Night’s King (or at least his spirit) was entombed in a weirwood tree, one that formed the Black Gate. Then that weirwood was then encased in ice, oh, like as in a huge ass wall of ice to contain it. What happens when that weirwood tree eventually finds its way back to the surface? 

From LynnS:

My guess is that the weirwood at the Black Gate is connected by it's root system to the weirwood at Whitetree and the greenseer that is a thousand years old is actually located there.  

 

Yes, I do think Bran can access the magic of the Wall using the Black Gate via the wierwood net and this is what we are seeing manifested when Bran appears to Jon as Weir-Bran; the sapling growing before his eyes from the rock above the tree-line where no weirwood exists physically.  It's a metaphysical doorway and I suspect the middle head of the god Trios.

I tend to pay attention to Bran's impressions and intuitions since we know he will have access to a greater knowledge at some point and these impression might bleed back to him at a younger stage.  So a man that is a thousand years old brings to mind the Grey King who was said to have lived for a thousand years also.  As I've mentioned before Euron mocks the Damphair with salt water and calls it the Drowned God's salt kiss; something that Bran experiences when he passes through the Black Gate:

  Quote

A Storm of Swords - Bran IV

"Then pass," the door said. Its lips opened, wide and wider and wider still, until nothing at all remained but a great gaping mouth in a ring of wrinkles. Sam stepped aside and waved Jojen through ahead of him. Summer followed, sniffing as he went, and then it was Bran's turn. Hodor ducked, but not low enough. The door's upper lip brushed softly against the top of Bran's head, and a drop of water fell on him and ran slowly down his nose. It was strangely warm, and salty as a tear.

Because the tear is warm; I'm not certain of the icy connection but perhaps there is a connection to the Black Line of Harren and the drowned god.    

Is it really Bloodraven that is rousing himself from the weirnet or the drowned god/black gate?  Is it Bloodraven's weirwood that Bran sees or the tree at Whitetree with it's crooked mouth?  The tree that scares  Bran and is described as monstrous?  

Who has been watching Bran:

  Quote

They were white too, and blind. "Who are you?" the door asked, and the well whispered, "Who-who-who-who-who-who-who."

  Quote

 

A Game of Thrones - Bran II

He liked how it felt too, pulling himself up a wall stone by stone, fingers and toes digging hard into the small crevices between. He always took off his boots and went barefoot when he climbed; it made him feel as if he had four hands instead of two. He liked the deep, sweet ache it left in the muscles afterward. He liked the way the air tasted way up high, sweet and cold as a winter peach. He liked the birds: the crows in the broken tower, the tiny little sparrows that nested in cracks between the stones, the ancient owl that slept in the dusty loft above the old armory. Bran knew them all.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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I am really intrigued by the idea that the weirwood sapling reaching up through the Nightfort is regrowth from an older tree with another greenseer...perhaps even from the Black Gate, whoever he was...perhaps even the Grey King himself.

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Posted (edited)

I’m just going to put this quote here until I get the chance to come back to it. I have some half formed ideas spinning around my nearly empty head ;) but they aren’t quite coming together as of yet. 

“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. For a thousand years and seven he reigned here, Aeron recalled. Here he took his mermaid wife and planned his wars against the Storm God. From here he ruled both stone and salt, wearing robes of woven seaweed and a tall pale crown made from Nagga’s teeth.

But that was in the dawn of days, when mighty men still dwelt on earth and sea. The hall had been warmed by Nagga’s living fire, which the Grey King had made his thrall. On its walls hung tapestries woven from silver seaweed most pleasing to the eyes. The Grey King’s warriors had feasted on the bounty of the sea at a table in the shape of a great starfish, whilst seated upon thrones carved from mother-of-pearl. Gone, all the glory gone. Men were smaller now. Their lives had grown short. The Storm God drowned Nagga’s fire after the Grey King’s death, the chairs and tapestries had been stolen, the roof and walls had rotted away. Even the Grey King’s great throne of fangs had been swallowed by the sea. Only Nagga’s bones endured to remind the ironborn of all the wonder that had been.”

And while I’m at it, I might as well add this one for reference...

“Across rain-sodden fields and stony ridges, she could see the great castle of Storm’s End rearing up against the sky, its back to the unseen sea. Beneath that mass of pale grey stone, the encircling army of Lord Stannis Baratheon looked as small and insignificant as mice with banners.

The songs said that Storm’s End had been raised in ancient days by Durran, the first Storm King, who had won the love of the fair Elenei, daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind. On the night of their wedding, Elenei had yielded her maidenhood to a mortal’s love and thus doomed herself to a mortal’s death, and her grieving parents had unleashed their wrath and sent the winds and waters to batter down Durran’s hold. His friends and brothers and wedding guests were crushed beneath collapsing walls or blown out to sea, but Elenei sheltered Durran within her arms so he took no harm, and when the dawn came at last he declared war upon the gods and vowed to rebuild.

Five more castles he built, each larger and stronger than the last, only to see them smashed asunder when the gale winds came howling up Shipbreaker Bay, driving great walls of water before them. His lords pleaded with him to build inland; his priests told him he must placate the gods by giving Elenei back to the sea; even his smallfolk begged him to relent. Durran would have none of it. A seventh castle he raised, most massive of all. Some said the children of the forest helped him build it, shaping the stones with magic; others claimed that a small boy told him what he must do, a boy who would grow to be Bran the Builder. No matter how the tale was told, the end was the same. Though the angry gods threw storm after storm against it, the seventh castle stood defiant, and Durran Godsgrief and fair Elenei dwelt there together until the end of their days.

Gods do not forget, and still the gales came raging up the narrow sea. Yet Storm’s End endured, through centuries and tens of centuries, a castle like no other. Its great curtain wall was a hundred feet high, unbroken by arrow slit or postern, everywhere rounded, curving, smooth, its stones fit so cunningly together that nowhere was crevice nor angle nor gap by which the wind might enter. That wall was said to be forty feet thick at its narrowest, and near eighty on the seaward face, a double course of stones with an inner core of sand and rubble. Within that mighty bulwark, the kitchens and stables and yards sheltered safe from wind and wave. Of towers, there was but one, a colossal drum tower, windowless where it faced the sea, so large that it was granary and barracks and feast hall and lord’s dwelling all in one, crowned by massive battlements that made it look from afar like a spiked fist atop an upthrust arm.”

Edited by Lady Dyanna
Additional quote added

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@wolfmaid7 Quote from prior thread:

Quote

 

Lol...I actually agree with you.To be specific don't   believe they are just any wind.They are "the cold wind that rises" and we know what happens when the cold wind rises

"The dead come with them" 

Exactly!

Quote

My idea and understanding of greenseer might be a bit more loose than others.

I think the" name" greenseer is what the little tree huggers term a person who could skinchange AND delve into the past and see far future according to the world book.

It goes on to state that a Skinchanger is a person who could mingle their spirit with an animal and control it.

Thus by this definition of one who can mingle their spirit with an animal and one who can delve into past and future.

Dany is a greenseer. What qualifies is the Skinchanging and the sight.If they have these gifts they can use mediums of sight like the Weirwoods,glass candles,flames even ice.

The lack of  sight is what disqualifies v6 as a green seer.No sight can't use the mediums to see.

I never thought about it this way, but it makes a whole lot of sense. If we look at things by that definition it becomes easier to identify those with similar talents within each of the elements. 

My only problem with what you’re saying is Dany. My gut tells me that you are correct in the assumption that she has this talent, but we haven’t seen her use it as of yet, at least not outside of dreams, have we? Do we actually count what she experienced at the HotU? It seems like she was given assistance with that. Even Stannis is able to read the flames with Mel’s assistance. 

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Back to The Wall.  Any significance to the eastern half being straight and the western half snaking?  Was one built first?  By different people or for a different reason?  Could the Wall have fallen and been rebuilt? 

The Others seem to have been a threat to everyone, not just men North of the Wall.  If the long Night took a generation or two and the Wall took many hundreds of years, they didn't happen at the same time.  If the Wall existed first and it blocked the Others, they had to breach it. 

Or if the Long Night happened first, why was the Wall built?  GRRM said the Wall took hundreds of years to be raised to its present height.  I think it is unlikely after the Long Night people decided to spend hundreds of years creating a Wall to block the Others return - but even if they did, they'd likely start at one end at full height and slowly build across.  Taking a long time to reach its present height sounds more like a military defense in an active war that lasted hundreds of years.

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Posted (edited)

The Nightfort had cells that could hold 500 people. The Nights Watch could keep prisoners until the Wall was built.

Edited by Feather Crystal

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6 hours ago, Feather Crystal said:

The Nightfort had cells that could hold 500 people. The Nights Watch could keep prisoners until the Wall was built.

Why?

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6 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Back to The Wall.  Any significance to the eastern half being straight and the western half snaking?  Was one built first?  By different people or for a different reason?  Could the Wall have fallen and been rebuilt? 

The Others seem to have been a threat to everyone, not just men North of the Wall.  If the long Night took a generation or two and the Wall took many hundreds of years, they didn't happen at the same time.  If the Wall existed first and it blocked the Others, they had to breach it. 

Or if the Long Night happened first, why was the Wall built?  GRRM said the Wall took hundreds of years to be raised to its present height.  I think it is unlikely after the Long Night people decided to spend hundreds of years creating a Wall to block the Others return - but even if they did, they'd likely start at one end at full height and slowly build across.  Taking a long time to reach its present height sounds more like a military defense in an active war that lasted hundreds of years.

Good questions all. The first might be easier to answer with detailed topographical maps but if we look at Hadrian's Wall, which GRRM cites as his inspiration, it too once displayed a similar quirk. As originally built the eastern side heading west from Wallsend [Eastwatch to you] was apparently built in stone from the outset.  However the western side was originally built of turf and then stone later.

[oddly enough the junction between the two sections corresponds with the Northumberland/Cumberland border]

It may be therefore that The Wall was likewise started from both ends working towards meeting somewhere in the middle and that the Western builder drove it in a straight line while the eastern builder followed the lie of the land.

My mastiff is demanding a walk so I'll look at the rest later.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

 

The Others seem to have been a threat to everyone, not just men North of the Wall.  If the long Night took a generation or two and the Wall took many hundreds of years, they didn't happen at the same time.  If the Wall existed first and it blocked the Others, they had to breach it. 

 

Its something [inevitably] we've discussed before. Notwithstanding that SSM its likely that the Wall was raised very suddenly, by great lore [ie: magic] and blood and that Nights Watch traditions of each Lord Commander raising it higher in the old days relate to nothing more than maintenance.

As to generations, the Long Night is indeed said to have lasted a generation, but its interesting that a generation is defined as the period of time between a child being born and having children of its own. It isn't precise and can therefore vary a little between cultures. In Westerosi terms it appears to be about 13 years - and where do we keep finding that number?

Edited by Black Crow
silly spelling mistake

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8 hours ago, Brad Stark said:

Or if the Long Night happened first, why was the Wall built?  GRRM said the Wall took hundreds of years to be raised to its present height.  I think it is unlikely after the Long Night people decided to spend hundreds of years creating a Wall to block the Others return - but even if they did, they'd likely start at one end at full height and slowly build across.  Taking a long time to reach its present height sounds more like a military defense in an active war that lasted hundreds of years.

Again this is one of the fundamental questions. Why would so much time, effort, lives and treasure be expended if the threat has disappeared - and how was the Battle for the Dawn won anyway?

Identifying the Wall as a boundary raised by the other lot answers so many of the contradictions and indeed unleashing that Ice magic may have been what caused the Long Night in the first place - which is why [bearing in mind that GRRM started writing this within months of the fall of the Berlin wall] I believe that bringing the Wall down will be the key to resolving the conflict.

Blood built it

Blood stopped the building of it

And blood will bring it down

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We can also answer a lot of questions with giants. Like the height of the Black Gate. It is one sitting Bran on top of Hodor high. We know that Hodor is 7feet tall and giants are between 10 and 14 feet. The Black Gate can be used by giants, it is just a little bit short. 

Also the height of the Wall is too high, even if it was build against giants. With 700 feet it is 100 Hodors or 50 giants tall. 

 

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Why?

Now that is a good question....Feed the wall??

10 hours ago, Lady Dyanna said:

@wolfmaid7 Quote from prior threa

My only problem with what you’re saying is Dany. My gut tells me that you are correct in the assumption that she has this talent, but we haven’t seen her use it as of yet, at least not outside of dreams, have we? Do we actually count what she experienced at the HotU? It seems like she was given assistance with that. Even Stannis is able to read the flames with Mel’s assistance. 

I think we have seen her experience it.What the tree huggers and Jojen call "greendreams" can be superimposed on Dany's dragon dreams which allowed her to see.

Additionally,THOTU which in itself is like a weir wood medium did the same thing.

Like BR to Bran Dany has been approached by various faction to boast that they can "show" Dany how to use her abilities.This is essentially what she needs....A teacher.

Maybe Quaithe,maybe Morroqo.Who knows?

Well its easy to disqualify Stannis...He's not a Skinchanger nor does he have prophetic dreams.

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3 hours ago, Black Crow said:

Why?

Because there were people behind the creation of the white walkers and they needed to be imprisoned until a physical barrier could be built. They may have even been used as laborers.

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Posted (edited)

36 minutes ago, wolfmaid7 said:

Well its easy to disqualify Stannis...He's not a Skinchanger nor does he have prophetic dreams.

We know that because ... ? Stannis does things because he sees things in the flames or in dreams. Like killing Renly because he saw Renly beat him at the Blackwater.

 

27 minutes ago, Feather Crystal said:

Because there were people behind the creation of the white walkers and they needed to be imprisoned until a physical barrier could be built. They may have even been used as laborers.

The Nightfort has been rebuild over and over again. I assume the prison cells are among the rebuild parts. The question is more like why were ,300 years ago,an army of ten thousand men in the need of a location for 500 prisoners. 

Edited by SirArthur

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28 minutes ago, SirArthur said:

The Nightfort has been rebuild over and over again. I assume the prison cells are among the rebuild parts. The question is more like why were ,300 years ago,an army of ten thousand men in the need of a location for 500 prisoners. 

I agree. The easiest and most straightforward reason is that they were holding cells for the prisoners sent north to garrison the Wall

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Posted (edited)

39 minutes ago, SirArthur said:

We know that because ... ? Stannis does things because he sees things in the flames or in dreams. Like killing Renly because he saw Renly beat him at the Blackwater.

 

The Nightfort has been rebuild over and over again. I assume the prison cells are among the rebuild parts. The question is more like why were ,300 years ago,an army of ten thousand men in the need of a location for 500 prisoners. 

The amount of 10,000 men of the Nights Watch was reported just 300 years ago when Harren the Black built Harrenhal. I was referring to the origin years of the Wall. I don't recall if it's been reported how many men the Wall had in the beginning, but we can assume by the number of castles along the Wall that there was a large and ever increasing force. I think we can safely assume every castle along the Wall had cells. 

When LC Jon Snow allowed the wildlings through the Wall he eventually sends them to various castles to repair and rebuild. Just Tormund's band was 4000 people and Jon gave him the task of repairing Oakenshield. IMO this is a reversal of how the Wall was built. Wildling labor built the castles, lived in the cells, and were forced to build the Wall. After many years the castles deteriorated as well as the Watch while the wildlings were forced north of it, and now wildling people will rebuild the castles and live in them.

LC Jon Snow garrisoned many castles under the command of Nights Watch officers, like Iron Emmett and Dolorous Edd:

 

Quote

  “I mean to open three more castles,” Jon said. “Deep Lake, Sable Hall, and the Long Barrow. All garrisoned with free folk, under the command of our own officers. The Long Barrow will be all women, aside from the commander and chief steward.”

 

The distance between castles was meant to make it difficult for any escapees to communicate with each other:

 

Quote

   There would be some mingling, he did not doubt, but the distances were great enough to make that difficult, at least.

  “And what poor fool will get that choice command?”

  “I am riding beside him.” The look of mingled horror and delight that passed across Iron Emmett’s face was worth more than a sack of gold.

  “What have I done to make you hate me so, my lord?”

  Jon laughed. “Have no fear, you won’t be alone. I mean to give you Dolorous Edd as your second and your steward.”

  “The spearwives will be so happy. You might do well to bestow a castle on the Magnar.”

 

 

 

Edited by Feather Crystal

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