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Aldarion

George Martin and scale

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OK, GRRM made the Wall 700 feet tall. Problem is, it is way too tall for either attacker's or defender's arrows to be truly effective (but especially the attacker's). More egregiously, castles in ASOIAF are enormous. Winterfell and Storm's End have some excuse, as they were apparently built by the omnipotent Bran the Builder. But what excuses Casterly Rock and other "normal" castles? Storm's End has a wall 100 ft tall, while Winterfell's outer wall is 80 ft tall and inner wall is 100 ft tall.

Castles usually had walls cca 40 ft high, and 7 ft thick. Extreme was 80 ft tall and 20-40 ft thick. As for cities, variance was greater. Writing down notes for my own fantasy setting I am developing, wall heights ranged from 4 m (12 ft) in York to 25 m (82 ft) in Dubrovnik (though latter likely refers to Minčeta, as I did not get impression walls were that tall - even seaside wall is likely no more than 20 meters tall. Been a while since I've been there, though). Thickness ranged from 1,8 m (6 ft) in York to 6 m (18 ft) in Dubrovnik and Constantinople. Constantinople also had towers with height of up to 20 meters.

Regarding ground size, Casterly Rock is about 11,2 km in length. Assuming an extremely elongated shape, similar to Klis fortress, which is 300 m long and 50 meters wide at maximum (with average width closer to 30 meters), this would give Casterly Rock 11 200 m length and 1 120 m average width, for area of 12 544 000 m2 (12,5 square kilometers; for reference, Constantinople - the largest medieval city - was 15 square kilometers, not all of which was always occupied by inhabitants - so population of Casterly Rock shouldbe between 200 000 and 400 000). Thus its area would be 1 394 times that of Klis fortress. Now, defenders of Klis fortress seem to have varied between 300 and 1 500. Sisak fortress, with cca 350 m2 area and multiple (3?) levels, was defended by 300 men. Thus Klis fortress (9 000 m2, 300 - 1 500 men) has density of 0,03 to 0,17 men per square meter, while Sisak fortress has density of 0,29 men per square meter. This means that total manpower of Casterly Rock would have been 376 000 to 3 639 000 men. Just manning the circuit of walls, assuming one line of men and one meter per solider, would require 24 640 men. Of course, this assumes that dimensions are for the castle; but more likely is that 11,2 km refers to its base. Even so, slope can be assumed to be rather steep.

And that seems to indicate the reason why there are so few cities in Westeros. Every major castle is a city.

But here we run into a different problem. Cities tended to be situated in accessible locations to facilitate food supply: sea shore, rivers etc., unless they were small enough to live off the immediate countryside. But most castles in Westeros are logistical nightmares. Not because they have no countryside, necessarily, but because simply getting food there would be a nightmare. Pyke? You have to get food across rather unstable bridges. Eyrie? Up the bloody mountain. Casterly Rock? Up the even larger bloody mountain. Dragonstone? Storm's End? Here we go again. And before you say "there were castles positioned on tops of cliffs / hills / mountains" - yes, they were. But not of this size. We are talking actual cities here in terms of logistical situation, not your run-of-the-mill (or even large mill) castle.

(You have a bit on castles here).

Edited by Aldarion

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6 hours ago, Aldarion said:

GRRM made the Wall 700 feet tall. Problem is, it is way too tall for either attacker's or defender's arrows to be truly effective

What about White Walker's ranged weapons?

6 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Regarding ground size, Casterly Rock is about 11,2 km in length

Would you mind to point a source for this?

6 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Winterfell and Storm's End have some excuse, as they were apparently built by the omnipotent Bran the Builder.

Not a good excuse, though. Harrenhal is way bigger than those, for instance. I wonder if they were built like that due to the enemies they were designed to resist.

6 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But most castles in Westeros are logistical nightmares.

In deed. However, are they nearly impossible to mantain or just impractical? [Honest question]

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Casterly Rock seems to have port inside. So as long sea lines are open and any enemy do not use that route for their access population living in CR should not have any problems of getting enough food.

Harrenhall seems to have direct access to huge lake so garrison of HH should be able to hire fishermen or just boats to gain enough food. Or anyone trying to siege HH should have some kind of fleet at Gods Eye to really close that supply line of HH.

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The Rock has been measured as thrice the height of the Wall or the Hightower of Oldtown. Almost two leagues long from west to east,

The Rock might be around 700 meters high and about 6 miles/9,656 meters in length.  

Due to the shape being considered lion-like, with lions seemingly being about 6 times as long as they are wide. It might suggest a width of about 1,609 meters.  

If these are measurements from the base, the top might be significantly smaller.  

Though there would still seem to be a massive amount of room inside the mountain itself. 

Quote

 But most castles in Westeros are logistical nightmares.

A number of them seem to be built more on the scale of Giants than Men. Perhaps suggesting some lost Giant civilization, which has been erased from the historical record.  

Places like the Eyrie seem to have had access to giant eagles/falcons. So the construction may have been easier than it first seems.  

Pyke may have originally been a single castle which has been falling into the sea and breaking apart over the ages.  

Edited by Narsil4

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9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Regarding ground size, Casterly Rock is about 11,2 km in length. Assuming an extremely elongated shape, similar to Klis fortress, which is 300 m long and 50 meters wide at maximum (with average width closer to 30 meters), this would give Casterly Rock 11 200 m length and 1 120 m average width, for area of 12 544 000 m2 (12,5 square kilometers; for reference, Constantinople - the largest medieval city - was 15 square kilometers, not all of which was always occupied by inhabitants - so population of Casterly Rock shouldbe between 200 000 and 400 000). Thus its area would be 1 394 times that of Klis fortress. Now, defenders of Klis fortress seem to have varied between 300 and 1 500. Sisak fortress, with cca 350 m2 area and multiple (3?) levels, was defended by 300 men. Thus Klis fortress (9 000 m2, 300 - 1 500 men) has density of 0,03 to 0,17 men per square meter, while Sisak fortress has density of 0,29 men per square meter. This means that total manpower of Casterly Rock would have been 376 000 to 3 639 000 men. Just manning the circuit of walls, assuming one line of men and one meter per solider, would require 24 640 men. Of course, this assumes that dimensions are for the castle; but more likely is that 11,2 km refers to its base. Even so, slope can be assumed to be rather steep.

And that seems to indicate the reason why there are so few cities in Westeros. Every major castle is a city.

Err, no.

Casterly Rock is around 6 miles (2 leagues) long, yes. But its a ROCK, not a walled castle. Think a longer Ayres Rock (Uluru), vaguely lion shaped, jutting into the sea. Its been mined for literally thousands of years, and also for literally thousands of years some of those mined out areas have been built into inhabited areas. Its GRRMs version of a typical fantasy dwarven fortress, literally built inside the Rock.

You don't need men to cover all those square metres internally. They are literally rock, not space. The only 'space' is literally the rooms and corridors. Nor are there great walls around it you have to defend. Just the entrances and a presumably small (since it has only a lookout functional need) castle* perched on top, which siege gear can't get to anyway.
Literally the entire place is choke points, not massive defenses. That way it can be any size it wants internally and only need a relatively small garrison and non-military population. But this one actually could be city-sized and work, logistically.

(*Well, the Casterlys had a ring fort on the top for the view, no mention of that currently that I could find).

9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

But most castles in Westeros are logistical nightmares. Not because they have no countryside, necessarily, but because simply getting food there would be a nightmare. Pyke? You have to get food across rather unstable bridges.

Sure, but Pyke is not enormously big. There is nothing suggesting it was all that big originally. Now its just a scattered collection of towers and keeps left behind as the rock literally crumbled into the sea around them, and a short length curtain wall with the gatehouse+towers left on the land from the original entrance. There's hardly any people in it at all, relatively speaking.

9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Eyrie? Up the bloody mountain.

Sure. Do note though that the Eyrie is the smallest of the great seats, and not even occupied year-round. The Gates of the Moon is the main fortress in truth, the Eyrie not much more than an overdone inner Keep. 
I see the Eyrie as a disney castle really. A more spectacularly located Neuschwantsein or Eltz castle, not much bigger, probably in fact smaller than these, mostly just the 7 slender towers. It took over 70years to build IIRC.
Logistically you are supply a few hundred people, not 10s of thousands.

9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Casterly Rock? Up the even larger bloody mountain. 

Nope. Into the mountain, not up it. The main entrance can ride twenty horsemen abreast through it, though thats up steps, so not where the food comes in. There are surely other entrances probably large enough for carts, and almost certainly including the natural sea caverns that no doubt include facilities for unloading food cargoes direct to store rooms.

Again, its not a huge populated city that need supplying, just a somewhat larger (and richer, and more easily supplied, literally with the sea caverns) "castle" population.
The City is nearby/adjacent Lannisport. 

9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Dragonstone? Storm's End? Here we go again.

Do we? Dragonstone isn't supposed to be particularly massive. Its clealry a large-ish castle, but its features are about sorcerously aided shape, not size.

Storms End is famed for its strength - apparently magically aided construction that withstands wind and storm and salt better than normal castles and thus probably costs less in maintenance - not its massive size. 

Nothign indicates either of these strongholds have or require city-sized populations, or particularly difficult logistics.

9 hours ago, Aldarion said:

And before you say "there were castles positioned on tops of cliffs / hills / mountains" - yes, they were. But not of this size. We are talking actual cities here in terms of logistical situation, not your run-of-the-mill (or even large mill) castle.

No, we aren't. You've incorrectly extrapolated that out from one case and applied it to all. You do need to pay closer attention to the sources.
Having said that, yes GRRM has deliberately overscaled almost everything about Westeros, and sometimes the logistics don't work. It was an admitted reaction to being 'confined' by the limitations of 70s and 80s television screenwriting.

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I basically ignore the scale and imagine everything to be significantly smaller for my own suspension of disbelief, it's less that I can imagine the size of these things and more that GRRM still describes people interacting with them as if they were much smaller which I have a problem with like Theon's men scaling 80 foot walls with grappling hooks, climbing down to swim the moat and then... climb the more than a 100 foot inner wall? Winterfell's so huge that with the comically small amount of people they left behind they could have probably done it in the middle of the day to boot. 

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15 hours ago, Ckram said:

What about White Walker's ranged weapons?

What do we even know about them? I don't think there is any mention in the books.

15 hours ago, Ckram said:

Would you mind to point a source for this?

Found it on Reddit somewhere, confirmed by Googling. It is from a World of Ice and Fire.

https://books.google.hr/books?id=hapdAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA204&lpg=PA204&dq="almost+two+leagues+long+from+west+to+east"&source=bl&ots=G2VO7lvt5T&sig=ACfU3U1m4bQm_MXaBzgs6Hk5qrXXJJHwaw&hl=hr&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjWmt2onqDlAhVxw4sKHdS-Cz8Q6AEwAHoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q="almost two leagues long from west to east"&f=false

15 hours ago, Ckram said:

Not a good excuse, though. Harrenhal is way bigger than those, for instance. I wonder if they were built like that due to the enemies they were designed to resist.

No, it is not. Also, I do not think Harrenhal was built to resist either White Walkers or Targaryens, so it doesn't even have that excuse.

15 hours ago, Ckram said:

In deed. However, are they nearly impossible to mantain or just impractical? [Honest question]

Short answer: I do not know. Long answer: Depends on a lot on factors, but biggest factor is the capacity of whatever access points castle in question has. Castle, to function, has to a) bring in food (and maybe water) as well as other living necessities and b) be maintained. And materials for maintenance also have to be brought in. But I have no way of calculating the latter, and also no way of calculating the former either.

10 hours ago, corbon said:

Casterly Rock is around 6 miles (2 leagues) long, yes. But its a ROCK, not a walled castle. Think a longer Ayres Rock (Uluru), vaguely lion shaped, jutting into the sea. Its been mined for literally thousands of years, and also for literally thousands of years some of those mined out areas have been built into inhabited areas. Its GRRMs version of a typical fantasy dwarven fortress, literally built inside the Rock.

 You don't need men to cover all those square metres internally. They are literally rock, not space. The only 'space' is literally the rooms and corridors. Nor are there great walls around it you have to defend. Just the entrances and a presumably small (since it has only a lookout functional need) castle* perched on top, which siege gear can't get to anyway.
Literally the entire place is choke points, not massive defenses. That way it can be any size it wants internally and only need a relatively small garrison and non-military population. But this one actually could be city-sized and work, logistically.

(*Well, the Casterlys had a ring fort on the top for the view, no mention of that currently that I could find).

So it is Moria. Yes, that would solve a few problems, if we assume there are merely a few tunnels and rooms.  Do you think it was inspired by Petra?

10 hours ago, corbon said:

Sure. Do note though that the Eyrie is the smallest of the great seats, and not even occupied year-round. The Gates of the Moon is the main fortress in truth, the Eyrie not much more than an overdone inner Keep. 
 I see the Eyrie as a disney castle really. A more spectacularly located Neuschwantsein or Eltz castle, not much bigger, probably in fact smaller than these, mostly just the 7 slender towers. It took over 70years to build IIRC.
Logistically you are supply a few hundred people, not 10s of thousands.

Maybe. But that means that it cannot serve as a refuge for surrounding population, and extremely difficult access poses question of how it is supplied and maintained (though it is not undoable, assuming accessway is wide enough.

10 hours ago, corbon said:

Do we? Dragonstone isn't supposed to be particularly massive. Its clealry a large-ish castle, but its features are about sorcerously aided shape, not size.

Storms End is famed for its strength - apparently magically aided construction that withstands wind and storm and salt better than normal castles and thus probably costs less in maintenance - not its massive size. 

 Nothign indicates either of these strongholds have or require city-sized populations, or particularly difficult logistics.

Dragonstone's drum tower is supposed to be of a massive size, unless I am misremembering. But I was referring more to the circumstances of its construction. Targaryens escaped doom and landed on, by all accounts, poor and not that large island, yet they managed to maintain - and maybe expand - the army, feed three large dragons, and construct the castle. Each of those would be, by itself, a massive logistical burden. Where did the resources come from?

Storm's End's wall is a hundred feet tall and between forty and eighty feet thick. Castle may not be massive in terms of acreage it covers, but it is definitely a massive foritification. Largest walls I could find in the medieval and early Renaissance Europe - those of Dubrovnik - were up to 82 feet tall, but only 20 feet thick, and even that height was not maintained throughout. Constantinople's walls are significantly smaller at 40 feet high and 20 feet thick. Storm's End has a wall whose crossection is 2,4 to 4,9 times those of Dubrovnik at their most massive, and fortress itself is I believe situated in very inaccessible terrain. And that wall size places minimum value on size of fortress - it must be at least 150 feet across, maybe 200. More likely 300 to 500 feet, unless most of the buildings are within the curtain wall or else underground. Although it does get an excuse of being built by Bran the Builder.

10 hours ago, corbon said:

No, we aren't. You've incorrectly extrapolated that out from one case and applied it to all. You do need to pay closer attention to the sources.

Winterfell is not the largest castle of Westeros, and I do not remember anything indicating its size was seen as extraordinary. A large castle, to be sure, but I get impression it is more akin to Krak des Chevaleurs in our own world - large, closer to upper end of the scale, but hardly unique in terms of scale.

EDIT: I also found this:

  • Dragonstone is undermanned with garrison of 200 (wartime).
  • Storm's End is undermanned with garrison of 300 (wartime).
  • Riverrun is overcrowded with 300.
  • Winterfell has garrison of 200 (peacetime).

So Dragonstone may be larger than Riverrun and smaller than Storm's End. Now, in real life, Krak des Chevaliers had a garrison of 2 000 and covered 2,38 ha. But that was military fortress, not feudal castle. Feudal castles in real life had much smaller garrisons. This is what I found on British castles:

  • Conwy Castle: 30 soldiers. Size.
  • Dover Castle: Unknown. Largest in England.
  • Rhuddlan Castle: 36, of which 30 soldiers.
  • Dyserth Castle: 2 soldiers.
  • Devizes Castle: 3, of which 2 soldiers.

Now these are mostly peacetime garrisons. But Dyserth castle was of concentric type, and Devizes castle is not exactly small either.

10 hours ago, Trigger Warning said:

I basically ignore the scale and imagine everything to be significantly smaller for my own suspension of disbelief, it's less that I can imagine the size of these things and more that GRRM still describes people interacting with them as if they were much smaller which I have a problem with like Theon's men scaling 80 foot walls with grappling hooks, climbing down to swim the moat and then... climb the more than a 100 foot inner wall? Winterfell's so huge that with the comically small amount of people they left behind they could have probably done it in the middle of the day to boot. 

Yeah, that is what I noticed as well. Which just reinforces my belief that castles weren't meant to be that big, but rather GRRM screwed up the scale.

EDIT: And it is not just castles. Standard war galley apparently has 100 oars per deckKing Robert's Hammer has 400 oars, Lord Tywin has 800 oars. 

Edited by Aldarion

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12 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

What do we even know about them?

We know nothing, that's the point.

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Interesting topic. When reading the Wildling Battle at the Wall sections I always roll my eyes at the crude Wildling bows sending arrows 700' up. Bows don't typically fire arrows 700' horizontally, and that's with the advantage of an arc. Firing them straight up kind of has gravity working against you. I can imagine you could probably easily catch any arrows out of the air that made it up that far.

The Eyrie was also another interesting case. Yeah, it's pretty impenetrable, but what good are any units stationed there if they have to spend several days trying to get out of the castle structure, through precarious mountain passes? I can just imagine the Vale being invaded while their leaders are too busy holed up to protect their territory.

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On 10/15/2019 at 1:29 PM, Aldarion said:

OK, GRRM made the Wall 700 feet tall. Problem is, it is way too tall for either attacker's or defender's arrows to be truly effective (but especially the attacker's).

https://outdoortroop.com/how-far-can-a-compound-bow-shoot/

"A compound bow can shoot an arrow over 1,000 feet, but the farthest recorded shot that actually hit a target is 930.04 feet. "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow#Range

"The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with much depending on both the power of the bow and the type of arrow. It has been suggested that a flight arrow of a professional archer of Edward III's time would reach 400 yd (370 m)[25] but the longest mark shot at on the London practice ground of Finsbury Fields in the 16th century was 345 yd (315 m).[26] In 1542, Henry VIII set a minimum practice range for adults using flight arrows of 220 yd (200 m); ranges below this had to be shot with heavy arrows.[27] Modern experiments broadly concur with these historical ranges. A 667 N (150 lbf) Mary Rose replica longbow was able to shoot a 53.6 g (1.89 oz) arrow 328 m (359 yd) and a 95.9 g (3.38 oz) a distance of 249.9 m (273.3 yd).[28] In 2012, Joe Gibbs shot a 2.25 oz (64 g) livery arrow 292 yd (267 m) with a 170 lbf yew bow."

315 meters is 1033.46 feet, 200 meters is 656.168 feet, 328 meters is 1076.12 feet.

https://traditionalarcheryguide.com/how-far-can-you-shoot-a-traditional-bow/

"A bow with a draw-weight of 100 pounds or more can allow you to shoot a traditional bow at upwards of 240 yards."

240 yards is 720 feet.

http://stortford-archers.org.uk/physics-of-medieval-archery/

"In 1590, Sir Roger Williams wrote: ‘Out of 5000 archers not 500 will make any strong shootes . . . few or none do anie great hurt 12 or 14 score off.’ A ‘score’ is twenty yards (18.3 m), so Sir Roger was complaining that the archers of his day (nearly 200 years after Agincourt) were so feeble that they could barely manage to shoot a distance of 220 to 260 m."

220 meters is 721.785 feet, 260 meters is 853.018 feet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/theydidthemath/comments/30k8yt/request_how_high_would_an_arrow_go_if_you_shot_it/

"How high would an arrow go if you shot it straight up"- "A 50 pound bow would fire it about 369 m (403 yards) up, and a 65 pound bow would fire it about 470 m (514 yards) up."

369 meters is 1210.63 feet, 470 meters is 1541.99 feet.

Based on those five sources out of 10 ranges only one is lesser than The Wall, and that's a minimum practice range set by Henry VIII - 220 yd (200 m) 656.168 feet. And The Wall is 700 feet tall. So it's realistical that the Watchers and the Wildlings can shoot at each other with longbows and crossbows, 700 feet up or down The Wall and hit the target from that distance.

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31 minutes ago, Lluewhyn said:

Firing them straight up kind of has gravity working against you.

Things like the existence of Giants, overly large structures, and huge flying dragons, may suggest that the gravity on GRRM's world is lower than Earth's.  

The CotF also make the world sound like swiss cheese, with tunnel systems running all the way to the center of the planet and not even exploring all of them after a million years.  

Which may suggest their world, even though it might be slightly larger, may have less mass than our own.  

Edited by Narsil4

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12 minutes ago, Megorova said:

 https://outdoortroop.com/how-far-can-a-compound-bow-shoot/

"A compound bow can shoot an arrow over 1,000 feet, but the farthest recorded shot that actually hit a target is 930.04 feet. "

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow#Range

"The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with much depending on both the power of the bow and the type of arrow. It has been suggested that a flight arrow of a professional archer of Edward III's time would reach 400 yd (370 m)[25] but the longest mark shot at on the London practice ground of Finsbury Fields in the 16th century was 345 yd (315 m).[26] In 1542, Henry VIII set a minimum practice range for adults using flight arrows of 220 yd (200 m); ranges below this had to be shot with heavy arrows.[27] Modern experiments broadly concur with these historical ranges. A 667 N (150 lbf) Mary Rose replica longbow was able to shoot a 53.6 g (1.89 oz) arrow 328 m (359 yd) and a 95.9 g (3.38 oz) a distance of 249.9 m (273.3 yd).[28] In 2012, Joe Gibbs shot a 2.25 oz (64 g) livery arrow 292 yd (267 m) with a 170 lbf yew bow."

315 meters is 1033.46 feet, 200 meters is 656.168 feet, 328 meters is 1076.12 feet.

https://traditionalarcheryguide.com/how-far-can-you-shoot-a-traditional-bow/

"A bow with a draw-weight of 100 pounds or more can allow you to shoot a traditional bow at upwards of 240 yards."

240 yards is 720 feet.

http://stortford-archers.org.uk/physics-of-medieval-archery/

"In 1590, Sir Roger Williams wrote: ‘Out of 5000 archers not 500 will make any strong shootes . . . few or none do anie great hurt 12 or 14 score off.’ A ‘score’ is twenty yards (18.3 m), so Sir Roger was complaining that the archers of his day (nearly 200 years after Agincourt) were so feeble that they could barely manage to shoot a distance of 220 to 260 m."

220 meters is 721.785 feet, 260 meters is 853.018 feet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/theydidthemath/comments/30k8yt/request_how_high_would_an_arrow_go_if_you_shot_it/

"How high would an arrow go if you shot it straight up"- "A 50 pound bow would fire it about 369 m (403 yards) up, and a 65 pound bow would fire it about 470 m (514 yards) up."

369 meters is 1210.63 feet, 470 meters is 1541.99 feet.

Based on those five sources out of 10 ranges only one is lesser than The Wall, and that's a minimum practice range set by Henry VIII - 220 yd (200 m) 656.168 feet. And The Wall is 700 feet tall. So it's realistical that the Watchers and the Wildlings can shoot at each other with longbows and crossbows, 700 feet up or down The Wall and hit the target from that distance.

What you are quoting is maximum range that arrow can reach. But Night's Watch are not fighting naked, and even if they were, arrow shot straight up would reach a point where it would not be able to pierce skin, let alone skin, bone and/or muscle as well as organs which it needs in order to kill; and that will happen lot sooner than it reaches maximum flight range, as it will be receiving no gravity assistance.

But at any rate, my point was about their ability to actually hit the targets. Night's watch will have been standing single-file, and even then not shoulder-to-shoulder. Can they shoot with any accuracy at that range? EDIT: And remember that these are not trained archers; though admittedly hunting would help with practice.

Edited by Aldarion

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2 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

What you are quoting is maximum range that arrow can reach.

I quoted various ranges, including that minimum set by Henri VIII, which is only 44 feet short of 700.

4 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

But Night's Watch are not fighting naked, and even if they were, arrow shot straight up would reach a point where it would not be able to pierce skin, let alone skin, bone and/or muscle as well as organs which it needs in order to kill; and that will happen lot sooner than it reaches maximum flight range

In one of those links there's info on how far upwards the bow can shoot. Based on type of bow it's 1210.63 feet or 1541.99 feet. Both of those numbers is significally above the height of The Wall. For 1210.63 the mark of 700 feet is 57,8% of that distance, and for 1541.99 the top of The Wall will be on the mark of 45,39% of the total distance. Probably the further an arrow will fly the slower it will be and the lesser damage it can cause. Though if an arrow can fly upwards as high as 1200-1500 feet then it's very unlikely that on the height of merely 45-60% (700 feet) it will be already barely flying and won't be able to cause significant damage if it will hit something on that mark.

Some info on force of arrow's impact and how it changes based on distance:

https://www.goldtip.com/Resources/Calculators/FOC-Calculator/Calculator-Descriptions.aspx

Bows that are <65 ft. lbs are used for hunting toughest game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.). "Shooting a live animal in the woods is quite different than shooting a block of ballistics gel in a laboratory. In the field you'll encounter unpredictable and complex variables that limit any mathematical model to just a "best guess". If you consider that your arrow must arrive on target then pass through layers of hair, hide, muscles, bones (perhaps), and a host of other tissues..."

In the link below there's a list of medieval bows and what was their draw force

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow#Surviving_bows_and_arrows

"In 1980, before the finds from the Mary Rose, Robert E. Kaiser published a paper stating that there were five known surviving longbows:[1]

  • The first bow comes from the Battle of Hedgeley Moor in 1464, during the Wars of the Roses. A family who lived at the castle since the battle had preserved it to modern times. It is 1.66 m (65 in) and a 270 N (60 lbf) draw force.[69]
  • The second dates to the Battle of Flodden in 1513 ("a landmark in the history of archery, as the last battle on English soil to be fought with the longbow as the principal weapon..."[58]). It hung in the rafters at the headquarters of the Royal Scottish Archers in Edinburgh.[1] It has a draw force of 360 to 410 N (80 to 90 lbf).
  • The third and fourth were recovered in 1836 by John Deane from the Mary Rose.[70] Both weapons are in the Tower of London Armoury and Horace Ford writing in 1887 estimated them to have a draw force of 280 to 320 N (65 to 70 lbf).[71] A modern replica made in the early 1970s of these bows has a draw force of 460 N (102 lbf).[72]
  • The fifth surviving longbow comes from the armoury of the church in the village of Mendlesham in Suffolk, and is believed to date either from the period of Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. The Mendlesham Bow is broken but has an estimated length of 1.73 to 1.75 m (68 to 69 in) and draw force of 350 N (80 lbf)

"

The force of arrow's impact (kinetic energy output) is based on the arrow's weight and speed. There's a formula in the link above.

Here's some info "Arrow speed loss at distance"

https://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=495633

they were using some special program for calculations (now that program is not available). Based on their data an arrow loses approximately 1 feet per second of its speed on every 10 yards of the distance it covered.

"Running the numbers for my bow in On Target reveals the following for a 434 grain arrow (100 grain 3 blade broadhead):
0 yds = 283.61 FPS
10 yds = 282.75
20 yds = 281.89
30 yds = 281.03
40 yds = 280.18
50 yds = 279.33

With a 125 grain 2-blade broadhead (458 grain total weight) these are the numbers:
0 yds = 278.48 FPS
10 yds = 277.73
20 yds = 276.99
30 yds = 276.24
40 yds = 275.50
50 yds = 274.76 "

The lighter arrow (434 grain) is losing 0,86 fps on every 10 yards, the heavier arrow (458 grain) is losing 0,75 fps (feet per second) on every 10 yards.

So if the total distance is for example 240 yards/720 feet (like in one of examples from above with traditional bow) then the total loss of speed after this two kinds of arrows will cover all 240 yards will be for 434 grain arrow - 20.64 fps, it's starting speed was 283.61, and when it will hit a target at distance 240 yards it's speed at that time will be 262.97 fps; and for 458 grain arrow it will be 18 fps, starting speed 278.48 and the speed when it will hit a target will be 260.48 fps. When the arrows will cover distance of 720 feet the lighter one will become 7,27% slower, and the heavier arrow will become 6,46% slower. The force of arrow's impact = KE=(mv²)/450240 where m = mass of the arrow in grains and v = velocity of the arrow in fps.

(434 * 283.61 * 283.61)/450240 = 77,53 ft-lbs <- this is the arrow's impact at the moment it was released from the bow, and 720 feet away from the bow it will be (434 * 262.97 * 262.97)/450240 = 66,65 ft-lbs. The speed loss was 7,27% and the lose of force of impact is 10,88 ft-lbs which is 14%.

Thus after flying over 720 feet the force of arrow's impact still will be enough to cause damage/kill.

In that link with formula there are types of bows and what's their hunting usage: 25-41 ft-lbs - Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.),  42-65 ft. lbs  - Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.),  > 65 ft. lbs - Toughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.).

So theoretically from distance of 720 feet this kind of bow can kill elk, black bear, wild boar, because even after it will partially lose speed, it's force of impact will lower from the original 77,53 to 66,65, and to kill large game a 42-65 ft.lbs bow is enough.

Thus there's no inconsistency in what GRRM wrote. Even an arrow shot upwards 700+feet (with medieval bow or crossbow) can kill, break bones, penetrate armour, etc.

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1 hour ago, Megorova said:

I quoted various ranges, including that minimum set by Henri VIII, which is only 44 feet short of 700.

 In one of those links there's info on how far upwards the bow can shoot. Based on type of bow it's 1210.63 feet or 1541.99 feet. Both of those numbers is significally above the height of The Wall. For 1210.63 the mark of 700 feet is 57,8% of that distance, and for 1541.99 the top of The Wall will be on the mark of 45,39% of the total distance. Probably the further an arrow will fly the slower it will be and the lesser damage it can cause. Though if an arrow can fly upwards as high as 1200-1500 feet then it's very unlikely that on the height of merely 45-60% (700 feet) it will be already barely flying and won't be able to cause significant damage if it will hit something on that mark.

Some info on force of arrow's impact and how it changes based on distance:

https://www.goldtip.com/Resources/Calculators/FOC-Calculator/Calculator-Descriptions.aspx

Bows that are <65 ft. lbs are used for hunting toughest game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.). "Shooting a live animal in the woods is quite different than shooting a block of ballistics gel in a laboratory. In the field you'll encounter unpredictable and complex variables that limit any mathematical model to just a "best guess". If you consider that your arrow must arrive on target then pass through layers of hair, hide, muscles, bones (perhaps), and a host of other tissues..."

In the link below there's a list of medieval bows and what was their draw force

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow#Surviving_bows_and_arrows

"In 1980, before the finds from the Mary Rose, Robert E. Kaiser published a paper stating that there were five known surviving longbows:[1]

  • The first bow comes from the Battle of Hedgeley Moor in 1464, during the Wars of the Roses. A family who lived at the castle since the battle had preserved it to modern times. It is 1.66 m (65 in) and a 270 N (60 lbf) draw force.[69]
  • The second dates to the Battle of Flodden in 1513 ("a landmark in the history of archery, as the last battle on English soil to be fought with the longbow as the principal weapon..."[58]). It hung in the rafters at the headquarters of the Royal Scottish Archers in Edinburgh.[1] It has a draw force of 360 to 410 N (80 to 90 lbf).
  • The third and fourth were recovered in 1836 by John Deane from the Mary Rose.[70] Both weapons are in the Tower of London Armoury and Horace Ford writing in 1887 estimated them to have a draw force of 280 to 320 N (65 to 70 lbf).[71] A modern replica made in the early 1970s of these bows has a draw force of 460 N (102 lbf).[72]
  • The fifth surviving longbow comes from the armoury of the church in the village of Mendlesham in Suffolk, and is believed to date either from the period of Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. The Mendlesham Bow is broken but has an estimated length of 1.73 to 1.75 m (68 to 69 in) and draw force of 350 N (80 lbf)

"

The force of arrow's impact (kinetic energy output) is based on the arrow's weight and speed. There's a formula in the link above.

Here's some info "Arrow speed loss at distance"

https://www.archerytalk.com/vb/showthread.php?t=495633

they were using some special program for calculations (now that program is not available). Based on their data an arrow loses approximately 1 feet per second of its speed on every 10 yards of the distance it covered.

"Running the numbers for my bow in On Target reveals the following for a 434 grain arrow (100 grain 3 blade broadhead):
0 yds = 283.61 FPS
10 yds = 282.75
20 yds = 281.89
30 yds = 281.03
40 yds = 280.18
50 yds = 279.33

With a 125 grain 2-blade broadhead (458 grain total weight) these are the numbers:
0 yds = 278.48 FPS
10 yds = 277.73
20 yds = 276.99
30 yds = 276.24
40 yds = 275.50
50 yds = 274.76 "

The lighter arrow (434 grain) is losing 0,86 fps on every 10 yards, the heavier arrow (458 grain) is losing 0,75 fps (feet per second) on every 10 yards.

 So if the total distance is for example 240 yards/720 feet (like in one of examples from above with traditional bow) then the total loss of speed after this two kinds of arrows will cover all 240 yards will be for 434 grain arrow - 20.64 fps, it's starting speed was 283.61, and when it will hit a target at distance 240 yards it's speed at that time will be 262.97 fps; and for 458 grain arrow it will be 18 fps, starting speed 278.48 and the speed when it will hit a target will be 260.48 fps. When the arrows will cover distance of 720 feet the lighter one will become 7,27% slower, and the heavier arrow will become 6,46% slower. The force of arrow's impact = KE=(mv²)/450240 where m = mass of the arrow in grains and v = velocity of the arrow in fps.

(434 * 283.61 * 283.61)/450240 = 77,53 ft-lbs <- this is the arrow's impact at the moment it was released from the bow, and 720 feet away from the bow it will be (434 * 262.97 * 262.97)/450240 = 66,65 ft-lbs. The speed loss was 7,27% and the lose of force of impact is 10,88 ft-lbs which is 14%.

Thus after flying over 720 feet the force of arrow's impact still will be enough to cause damage/kill.

In that link with formula there are types of bows and what's their hunting usage: 25-41 ft-lbs - Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.),  42-65 ft. lbs  - Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.),  > 65 ft. lbs - Toughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.).

So theoretically from distance of 720 feet this kind of bow can kill elk, black bear, wild boar, because even after it will partially lose speed, it's force of impact will lower from the original 77,53 to 66,65, and to kill large game a 42-65 ft.lbs bow is enough.

Thus there's no inconsistency in what GRRM wrote. Even an arrow shot upwards 700+feet (with medieval bow or crossbow) can kill, break bones, penetrate armour, etc.

Ignoring air resistance, gravitational constant is 32,16 fps^2. So an arrow shot at 278 FPS will have lost all velocity in 8,6 seconds, allowing it to cover 1 200 ft. Now, this is a shot in the vacuum. Adding to that the loss of 1 fps every ten yards (30 ft) however seems insignificant (8,38 s). So yes, I do agree that it can kill. Not so about penetrating armour, not the types used in War of the Roses era which is what Westeros is based on. I do not think wildlings use longbows, Night's watch apparently uses mail and boiled leather, and likely padded doublets as well. Mail (assuming it is riveted) and padded doublets (gambeson) are both very good at stopping arrows. Richard's men in holy land walked around looking like pincushions after being shot at by Saladdin's horse archers. And as you can see, padded armour and leather - or even just padded armour - can stop arrows:

 

So if wildilings are using short bows, Night's Watch is more-or-less safe from anything barring lucky shots. No need for full plate. In fact, even longbow is quite useless against good gambeson, although the following example is likely not up the snuff with proper English warbow; I do not think wildlings have proper bowmakers, though:

And, again, you are ignoring the question whether they would be able to hit anything (it is not just about distance and arrow's ability to reach, it is also about the effect of the wind - IIRC, Wall is very windy - and angle they will be making shot at - they cannot shoot straight up if they want to have any effect). Though I imagine that would depend on the number of archers. Fill the air with enough arrows and you will hit something.

Edited by Aldarion

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12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

So it is Moria. Yes, that would solve a few problems, if we assume there are merely a few tunnels and rooms.  Do you think it was inspired by Petra?

Sort of Moria, yes. But I'd imagine a lot smaller in size (its a Rock, not a Mountain) but more intensively used in the interior. There are many tunnels and rooms, but its still a (large and wealthy) House seat, not a city. It literally has a city more or less next door.

I don't have a window into GRRMs mind, or recall of anything he's said about that, but I don't see Petra as being much similar. the geological shape is nothing in common really. I think Ayres Rock and Moria probably had more to do with Casterly Rock than Petra, but I could be utterly wrong here, its just a guess.

12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Maybe. But that means that it cannot serve as a refuge for surrounding population,

Its not. The Gates of the Moon serve for that.

12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

and extremely difficult access poses question of how it is supplied and maintained (though it is not undoable, assuming accessway is wide enough.

There is some detail in the books about how it is supplied, and yes, its difficult.
My main point is its not the 'city' you were claiming that each of these great Seats are. Barely more than a village in fact, in terms of numbers of people. Which makes difficult supply quite reasonable really.

12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Dragonstone's drum tower is supposed to be of a massive size, unless I am misremembering. But I was referring more to the circumstances of its construction. Targaryens escaped doom and landed on, by all accounts, poor and not that large island, yet they managed to maintain - and maybe expand - the army, feed three large dragons, and construct the castle. Each of those would be, by itself, a massive logistical burden. Where did the resources come from?

That was Storms End's massive drum tower I think. The reason its considered massive is because Storms End's construction is unique. It has only one 'tower', and contains everything.

Quote

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

Dragonstone's central keep is called the Stone Drum because of the way it rumbles during storms and it is described as a massive tower in one place, but I think thats more colloquial. It is the main central Keep after all, not just a 'tower'.

Quote

Castles are not friendly places for the frail, Cressen was reminded as he descended the turnpike stairs of Sea Dragon Tower. Lord Stannis would be found in the Chamber of the Painted Table, atop the Stone Drum, Dragonstone's central keep, so named for the way its ancient walls boomed and rumbled during storms. To reach him they must cross the gallery, pass through the middle and inner walls with their guardian gargoyles and black iron gates, and ascend more steps than Cressen cared to contemplate. 

...

His legs were aching by the time Ser Axell thrust open a heavy door and gestured him through. Beyond, a high stone bridge arched over emptiness to the massive central tower called the Stone Drum. 

The second quote above is Davos, who has been led up many levels from the dungeons to meet with Stannis. I see Cressen's description as more 'accurate' and Davos' as more 'personal feeling at the time', both due to the characters trainings and backgrounds, and their circumstances at the time.

As for the foundation of Dragonstone:

1. They were Valyrian Dragonlords. Who had sold up everything in Valyria and moved out. While they 'fled' Valyria, thats metaphorically speaking. They made a conscious choice to sell everything and move out, before the doom.  I would guess that they actually were enormously rich and had relatively huge resources by Westerosi "newcomer" standards. Dragonstone itself may have been relatively poor, but the influx of wealth and people from the Targaryen household would have made a considerable difference, well enough for the Targaryens to establish a mighty stronghold.

2. They had, and used in its construction, considerable sorcerous powers.

12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Storm's End's wall is a hundred feet tall and between forty and eighty feet thick. Castle may not be massive in terms of acreage it covers, but it is definitely a massive foritification....Although it does get an excuse of being built by Bran the Builder.

Exactly. Your complaint was about size and population issues, really. And these do not exist.
And yes, Storms End appears to have been built with sorcerous help. Its not just bigger and stronger, its very construction is extraordinary.

Quote

Maesters who have served at the castle testify to its vast strength and ingenious construction. Whether designed by Brandon the Builder or not, its great curtain wall, with its stones so cunningly fitted that the wind cannot get a grip on them, is justly famed. So, too, is the great central keep that thrusts up into the sky to overlook Shipbreaker Bay.

A 'normal' castle built with 'normal' methods from 'normal' stone would surely have suffered extensive damage from the extraordinary weather conditions over thousands of years. Yet Storms End does not. 
I would suggest, despite its strength and size (not acreage), that its actually cheaper to maintain, and requires a smaller garrison, than a similarly shaped (acreage etc) 'normal' castle.
 

12 hours ago, Aldarion said:

Yeah, that is what I noticed as well. Which just reinforces my belief that castles weren't meant to be that big, but rather GRRM screwed up the scale.

EDIT: And it is not just castles. Standard war galley apparently has 100 oars per deckKing Robert's Hammer has 400 oars, Lord Tywin has 800 oars. 

Yep. A bit. As mentioned, GRRM himself has explained that after a long time of restricted writing for TV, ASoIaF was intentionally 'bigger' in every respect. But he's not a logistician, so plenty of things don't work out all that well when looked at closely. He suggests not looking too closely. :)

54 minutes ago, Megorova said:

...lots of research about how far or high an arrow can go...

All of which ignored that archers shooting at others on a high wall need to achieve both distance and height together. And have enough power left in the arrow that it penetrates and wounds when it reaches a target.
And that the Wildlings don't have the resources or skills (which require a relatively wealthy population so that some people may specialise in very complex and difficult tasks) to provide their archers with high powered bows. Nearly all will be relatively lightly powered self bows for hunting small game. Still capable of wounding and killed men a closer ranges, but not high end english longbows, composite bows, or similar.

44 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

What you are quoting is maximum range that arrow can reach. But Night's Watch are not fighting naked, and even if they were, arrow shot straight up would reach a point where it would not be able to pierce skin, let alone skin, bone and/or muscle as well as organs which it needs in order to kill; and that will happen lot sooner than it reaches maximum flight range, as it will be receiving no gravity assistance.

Nearly all the wildling arrows fall hundreds of feet short.

Quote

The wildling archers shot as they advanced; they would dash forward, stop, loose, then run another ten yards. There were so many that the air was constantly full of arrows, all falling woefully short. A waste, Jon thought. Their want of discipline is showing. The smaller horn-and-wood bows of the free folk were outranged by the great yew longbows of the Night's Watch, and the wildlings were trying to shoot at men seven hundred feet above them. 
...

Wildling 
arrows were striking the Wall now, a hundred feet below them. 

In three days, only two arrows struck men on the wall. One hit Spare boot in his wooden leg - I doubt it should have stuck in the wood, but comical effect..., the other killed a man, but I venture to guess he slipped and fell from surprise/pain being struck, rather than any significant damage inflicted.

 

All in all, I don't think its too far off. A little perhaps, but not significantly so.

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9 minutes ago, corbon said:

Still capable of wounding and killed men a closer ranges, but not high end english longbows, composite bows, or similar.

Fun fact: english longbow, due to the way it is made, is basically a composite bow (they exploit different properties of different portions of wood to create self bow with characteristics of a composite bow).

And thanks for corrections.

12 minutes ago, corbon said:

 My main point is its not the 'city' you were claiming that each of these great Seats are. Barely more than a village in fact, in terms of numbers of people. Which makes difficult supply quite reasonable really.

Quote

Problem is, where are the cities, then? And castle that is a seat of power (in what are, effectively, kingdoms), should eventually develop into the city even if it is not one. Which also rather constrains where such a castle could be located.

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1 hour ago, Megorova said:

I quoted various ranges, including that minimum set by Henri VIII, which is only 44 feet short of 700.

In one of those links there's info on how far upwards the bow can shoot. Based on type of bow it's 1210.63 feet or 1541.99 feet. Both of those numbers is significally above the height of The Wall. For 1210.63 the mark of 700 feet is 57,8% of that distance, and for 1541.99 the top of The Wall will be on the mark of 45,39% of the total distance. Probably the further an arrow will fly the slower it will be and the lesser damage it can cause. Though if an arrow can fly upwards as high as 1200-1500 feet then it's very unlikely that on the height of merely 45-60% (700 feet) it will be already barely flying and won't be able to cause significant damage if it will hit something on that mark.

Some info on force of arrow's impact and how it changes based on distance:

https://www.goldtip.com/Resources/Calculators/FOC-Calculator/Calculator-Descriptions.aspx

Bows that are <65 ft. lbs are used for hunting toughest game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.). "Shooting a live animal in the woods is quite different than shooting a block of ballistics gel in a laboratory. In the field you'll encounter unpredictable and complex variables that limit any mathematical model to just a "best guess". If you consider that your arrow must arrive on target then pass through layers of hair, hide, muscles, bones (perhaps), and a host of other tissues..."

In the link below there's a list of medieval bows and what was their draw force

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow#Surviving_bows_and_arrows

"In 1980, before the finds from the Mary Rose, Robert E. Kaiser published a paper stating that there were five known surviving longbows:[1]

  • The first bow comes from the Battle of Hedgeley Moor in 1464, during the Wars of the Roses. A family who lived at the castle since the battle had preserved it to modern times. It is 1.66 m (65 in) and a 270 N (60 lbf) draw force.[69]
  • The second dates to the Battle of Flodden in 1513 ("a landmark in the history of archery, as the last battle on English soil to be fought with the longbow as the principal weapon..."[58]). It hung in the rafters at the headquarters of the Royal Scottish Archers in Edinburgh.[1] It has a draw force of 360 to 410 N (80 to 90 lbf).
  • The third and fourth were recovered in 1836 by John Deane from the Mary Rose.[70] Both weapons are in the Tower of London Armoury and Horace Ford writing in 1887 estimated them to have a draw force of 280 to 320 N (65 to 70 lbf).[71] A modern replica made in the early 1970s of these bows has a draw force of 460 N (102 lbf).[72]
  • The fifth surviving longbow comes from the armoury of the church in the village of Mendlesham in Suffolk, and is believed to date either from the period of Henry VIII or Queen Elizabeth I. The Mendlesham Bow is broken but has an estimated length of 1.73 to 1.75 m (68 to 69 in) and draw force of 350 N (80 lbf)

The Wildlings don't have longbows.

They have relatively primitive and low powered self bows.

1 hour ago, Megorova said:

The force of arrow's impact (kinetic energy output) is based on the arrow's weight and speed. There's a formula in the link above.

...

Thus after flying over 720 feet the force of arrow's impact still will be enough to cause damage/kill.

No. Lets ignore that these are heavier and better bows, and heavier and better arrows, than the wildlings generally have.

This is all based on the arrow's power at the end of its fall. This is not the case we are looking at though.

A shot arrow passes through a parabolic arc. Not just vertical, not just horizontal. It has both vertical and horizontal momentum components. The archers balances these two components to achieve range (distance horizontally) and height (distance vertically). All your calculations ignore one or the other factor entirely. The distance calculations ignore the necessary elevation and ignore the loss of overall momentum at the apex when the vertical momentum component is literally zero. The elevation calculations ignore the necessary distance - and also ignore the vertical momentum loss from the arrow not falling all the  way down again. 
When the wildlings shoot arrows at the Watch on the wall, they are aiming at a point 700ft higher. At that point they will have lost 700ft of vertical momentum and gained none of it back on the arrow's fall back to earth. All the calculations are null and void.

1 hour ago, Megorova said:

In that link with formula there are types of bows and what's their hunting usage: 25-41 ft-lbs - Medium Game (deer, antelope, etc.),  42-65 ft. lbs  - Large Game (elk, black bear, wild boar, etc.),  > 65 ft. lbs - Toughest Game (cape buffalo, grizzly, musk ox, etc.).

So theoretically from distance of 720 feet this kind of bow can kill elk, black bear, wild boar, because even after it will partially lose speed, it's force of impact will lower from the original 77,53 to 66,65, and to kill large game a 42-65 ft.lbs bow is enough.

Thus there's no inconsistency in what GRRM wrote. Even an arrow shot upwards 700+feet (with medieval bow or crossbow) can kill, break bones, penetrate armour, etc.

No. When it reaches the ground again, it can. 700ft above it cannot. It has almost zero vertical momentum and low horizontal momentum as the archer has put most of the angle vertical to achieve that height. This is very different from when the arrow reaches back to 'ground level' again.

GRRM's wildlings only achieve 600ft most of the time. That is probably a bit much, given their lesser bows and given that they need significant horizontal distance as well as vertical. But it fits within reasonable-if-exaggerated. The net effect of only 1 casualty in three days (and that likely not from the actual wound), though, serves perfectly even if his numbers don't work out very well

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36 minutes ago, Aldarion said:

Problem is, where are the cities, then? And castle that is a seat of power (in what are, effectively, kingdoms), should eventually develop into the city even if it is not one. Which also rather constrains where such a castle could be located.

Why? 

Westeros is much much bigger, and much much more dispersed than say, Britain or Europe in the 15th century. Why is that a significant problem?

 

Your original post concluded incorrectly that each (or most of) major seat(s) was in fact a city in a castle, so to speak, and that explained why there weren't enough cities in Westeros.
I've just pointed out that no, they aren't cities at all.
I'm not sure why you consider that there aren't enough cities in Westeros in the first place.
 

 

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8 hours ago, corbon said:

 Why? 

Westeros is much much bigger, and much much more dispersed than say, Britain or Europe in the 15th century. Why is that a significant problem?

Your original post concluded incorrectly that each (or most of) major seat(s) was in fact a city in a castle, so to speak, and that explained why there weren't enough cities in Westeros.
 I've just pointed out that no, they aren't cities at all.
I'm not sure why you consider that there aren't enough cities in Westeros in the first place.

Because it is much bigger and much more dispersed than Britain and Europe. There are not enough cities and population density in Westeros to support societal and more importantly technological level we are witnessing there. They have technology of late 14th or even 15th century - sans gunpowder - yet urbanization level is closer to 10th century and population density closer to Dark Ages Europe. And in fact it makes perfect sense for North to have not moved past chain / maille armour for its troops, as it is too sparsely populated to develop enough for plate armour (so any plate armour you see in the North should be imported). Problem is, at urbanization levels we are witnessing, nobody should have full plate armour. 15th century Hungary and Croatia were sparsely populated compared to Western Europe, but they imported plate armour from Germany and Italy.

Now, these are just impression, so I am going to check whether I am wrong about the above. Seven Kingdoms have 40 million people at maybe 3 600 000 square miles (eyeballed, but confirmed here). If we remove North, which is some 1,2 million square miles and 4 million people, we get 36 million people and 2,4 million square miles, for 15 people per square mile. England in 1500 had population of 3 million at 50 345 square miles, for 60 people per square mile. Hungary in 1500 had population density of 30 people per square mile - and it was one of the countries which imported plate armour from abroad (Croatian nobles imported it from Italy and Austria, Hungarian nobles from Austria and Germany IIRC). Ottoman Empire had population density similar to Hungary, but it never fielded full-plate armour, and in any case had significantly different societal and political organization (stolen from late Byzantine Empire, it had little in common with European feudalism).

At any rate, for a (relatively) highly technological society such as Westeros to function, you have to have cities. Westeros is an early modern society, not Medieval one, yet population density is closer to Dark Ages than to Renaissance. It should have urbanization rate similar to Byzantine Empire at least - 10 to 15% - and more likely closer to higher end of the scale. But highest estimate for urban population I found is cca 3 million, which is much less than 10%. Higher urbanization would actually reduce population density, so it could fall to well below 10 per square mile.

If Westeros is similar to England of 1500, then total population should be 144 million people in the south, or 72 million if we take Hungary (which is waaay too low). North should then have 16 million people (or 8 million for Hungary estimate), for total Westeros population of either 160 million or 80 million. This means that standing, professional forces of Westeros should be at least 800 000 for whole of Westeros.

So yeah. Martin should be writing about half-naked barbarians fighting against, at most, fryd militia. NOT the half-professional banderial armies clad in plate armour.

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