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Dragonstone Soil


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So, something odd I've found about Dragonstone:

In the books, the soil around Dragonstone is said to be poor, so the inhabitants have to rely on trade for their and is one of the reasons why Stannis doesn't like the place. But here's the deal with volcanic soil: due to deposits of magnesium and potassium, volcanic soil is actually quite fertile. Even Mordor, the byword for a wasteland dominated by a volcano, has a fertile region where crops are grown for Sauron's armies, and the blasted plain of Ered Gorgoroth can be chalked up to being an industrial ruin. In theory, Dragonstone would have had more ability to produce crops; not like Hawaii, I've been there multiple times, but not completely being a barren wasteland it's chalked up as.

Now, hypothetical scenario:

Say there's a volcanic island off the northwest coast of France. What can you expect people would be able to grow there?

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Honestly, I think I am chalking it up to Stannis being wrong (which he often is) and bitter (which again...he often is)

I think it's just a case of Stannis complaining about things he doesn't like and understand with his rose-tinted glasses.

Because we never hear about any similar complaints from the Targaryens who ruled the island before him. Neither Lords of Dragonstone nor Princes of Dragonstone.

Granted, Dragonstone and the islands sworn to it cannot field massive armies. The Conqueror and his sister-wives were more than confident about their chances of conquering Westeros: yes, dragons help but they are an air force. You need an army (and a navy) to be able to hold and manage territory.

So yeah, while they aren't fielding the type of armies that Winterfell or Highgarden can field true but I think it has more to do with the fact that they are islands (and not very big ones either), not with the lack of agricultural fertility there.

5 hours ago, Angel Eyes said:

Say there's a volcanic island off the northwest coast of France. What can you expect people would be able to grow there?

Maritime climate with volcanic soil?

Apples (and similar fruits), wheat, barley and nuts like every other similar land in the summer. Autumn would have some really good yields what with pumpkins and squash. An indoor garden would be able to produce a lot of turnips and greens.

Not bad at all.

Stannis needs to stop comparing Dragonstone to Storm's End. The Stormlands are probably richer (not that much richer) with a lot more space and that probably bugs him. He needs to get over it!

Dragonstone is a giant natural-born naval base. Storm's End is not. They are going to have different yields and different military capabilities.

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7 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

If Dragonstone lacks available flat lands

Now this is something that Dragonstone would truly lack.

If it's a relatively mountainous island with its own volcano, it's not going to have many flat areas.

 

I envision Dragonstone to specialize more in raising livestock than in growing foodstuffs.

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22 hours ago, The hairy bear said:

There are many factors that influence the agricultural output. If Dragonstone lacks available flat lands, constant sources of water for irrigation, or an adequate climate, a good soil is not going to take you very far.

This. I always assumed that Dragonstone being poor had to do with lack of quantity of available land. First, they are islands, and relatively small ones to boot, and second, they seem to be relatively mountainous.

So unless there are a lot of goat farmers...

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I always imagined Dragonstone as very mountainous and rocky, with a thin layer of soil. This migth be just my head-canon but such a place would not be great for farming even if the soil was fertile. It would also help with Dragonstone defence, since it is a forteress first, the lack of wood and fertile soil means besieging army's would have a hard time. It would also explain why the island seem to not have a important family before the Targaryen, because people would go to the fertile Driftmark rather then Dragonstone.

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I too thought that it just didn't have good terrain for crop farming, regardless of soil fertility. Of course Stannis is a very biased source as he can't stop viewing the island as a slight. Dragonstone has many advantageous features such as the painted table and strategic importance due to its position in the narrow sea. It could be a good trade center but I imagine Stannis' policies are deterring many sailors from landing there. He is robbing people of entertainment and mistreating their gods.

Valyria however was also mountainous and volcanic but I always got the impression that it had that fertile volcanic soil that Dragonstone seems to lack. The Valyrians were shepherds before they found dragons so maybe livestock rearing rather than growing crops is the way to go on Dragonstone.

 

On 8/3/2022 at 10:13 PM, BlackLightning said:

Dragonstone is a giant natural-born naval base. Storm's End is not. They are going to have different yields and different military capabilities.

I agree, I think in this respect the island really plays to Stannis' strengths. He is a better naval commander than a land commander in my opinion. Also he is master of ships. Dragonstone is great for this role. His bannermen are the most navally orientated (aside from the Ironborn). And if someone was invading from Essos, the island would be really important to control.

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On 8/3/2022 at 11:56 AM, Angel Eyes said:

So, something odd I've found about Dragonstone:

In the books, the soil around Dragonstone is said to be poor, so the inhabitants have to rely on trade for their and is one of the reasons why Stannis doesn't like the place. But here's the deal with volcanic soil: due to deposits of magnesium and potassium, volcanic soil is actually quite fertile. Even Mordor, the byword for a wasteland dominated by a volcano, has a fertile region where crops are grown for Sauron's armies, and the blasted plain of Ered Gorgoroth can be chalked up to being an industrial ruin. In theory, Dragonstone would have had more ability to produce crops; not like Hawaii, I've been there multiple times, but not completely being a barren wasteland it's chalked up as.

Now, hypothetical scenario:

Say there's a volcanic island off the northwest coast of France. What can you expect people would be able to grow there?

F&B talks about farmers and fishermen on Dragonstone, so it might be that the soil isn't exactly poor but that there just isn't enough of it to sustain the population. Plus, if the volcano is constantly spewing dumping sulfur into the soil, this will be bad for plants because of all the excess salt. 

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I've always thought that the island of Dragonstone and it's volcano hasn't yet had it's rocks eroded sufficiently into the fertile soil.  The description of it lends to it still being an active geographic zone, not quiet enough to have evolved into good farm land.  It seems the Spears of the Merling King in Blackwater Bay are more of a comparison to Dragonstone than the island of Driftmark, in substance anyway, if not size.   

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In real life there is Corsica and Hokkaido in the north. In the corresponding latitude south is Tasmania, the South Island of New Zealand, and Chiloè Island.

So, mostly complex,unpredictable and cold wet weather (although not so much in Corsica). Stunning mountainous scenery (Especially New Zealand). Temperate rainforests below the tree line, alpine bogs above.

Tasmania and the South Island of New Zealand have lots of agriculture. Apples, sheep, dairys.

Corsica has citrus fruit. But most of these islands are are more famous for their "unspoilt wilderness" - usually meaning the terraine was too hard to make a go of it in agriculture. 

Hokkaido in particular had a hunting and fishing economy for a long time after the islands near it had become agricultural economies. 

In all these islands, maritime activities are important. Whaling stations, or the base for fleets that supply them. Strategic bases for colonizing navies. Safe harbors for tall ships trading saws for timbers. Ship building  for icebreakers to supply places closer to the poles, for fishing and drying cod.

They seem more like Ibben and Norvos than Dragonstone.

But Dragonstone always had the great naval significance. The Valyrians saw that when they selected it as the Westernmost outpost of Valyria. They were not interested in conquering Westeros at that time, but through Dragonstone they could create trade between Westeros and the Freehold, and control that trade. They could, with a very small population, protect the Free Cities from any attack from the kingdoms of the west.

Aegon and his sisters were able to build a huge navy there, and to identify a time of weakness to invade the mainland. The first thing they did when they landed on the mainland was build a fort and a port, one to defend and the other to supply. They conquered the coastal areas nearest Dragonstone first, then headed up the rivers and out to bays further south and west. They had no luck above the Neck, or in Dorne, but thanks in part to the previous maritime conquests by the Ironborn, creating a populace ready to try the devil they didn't know, and partly to their own navy, they triumphed in the other five kingdoms.

Stannis complains that he ought to have Storm's End, but he is aware of the military significance of Dragonstone. It was the last place Aerys had been able to hold, but the storm that Daenerys was born in wiped out his navy for Stannis, making it possible for him to capture the island. 

Stannis took the position of Master of Ships and made sure the bulk of his brother's fleet was stationed around Dragonstone. He made sure that the Royal fleet was rebuilt stronger than ever, and had the ships and men to smash Balon's pretensions at Fairport, and still have plenty of boats to transport Robert's and Eddard's forces to Pyke. 

Then, he ensured that Robert continued to build the Royal fleet after Balon knelt. When Jon Arryn died, Stannis had most of the Royal Navy and all of the admirals berthed at Dragonstone rather than King's Landing. As if he had been preparing to fight against his brother for years.

How he really felt about Storm's End became clear when Ser Courtney Penrose died. He went back to Dragonstone. Storm's End is a great fortress and a foothold on the mainland, and his ancestral home, and was his by rights (now I suppose, Shireen's by rights) but Dragonstone is a better place to launch an invasion from.

So fertile soils are not a great consideration on Dragonstone. What matters is fresh water, and a comparatively sheltered large deep harbor, for a large naval force, sitting right at the mouth of Blackwater Bay. 

It is Tarth rather than Storms End that has this strategic significance in Shipbreaker Bay, and Widow's Watch for the Bite, Estermont for the Sea of Dorne. Gulltown has the best position to control the Bay of Crabs.

Baelish Keep might look like nothing much on the map, but it is a great strategic position to surveil/control all the maritime trade of the Seven Kingdoms with Braavos. And Braavos is a better place to control the north of Westeros from than most ports in Westeros.

Someone with a large fleet and a base in Pentos is in a good position to surveil/ blockade the southern coast of Westeros.

The trade from the far South and the golden West have to get through the pirate infested Stepstones to the three sisters of the Freehold, so obviously they are strategically and commercially important as well. Although pirates generally have less united fleets than nations or cartels.

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Good soil not only has minerals, which volcanic soil has, but also organic material in the top layers.  Strong winds and storms would wash those away from Dragonstone.  An advanced country like China can mitigate those natural forces and make the land fertile but not with the science available in Westeros. 

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George lives very near the Valles Caldera and is probably influenced by what he sees every day. That part of New Mexico is pretty arid. Not much crop farming, mostly livestock. Lots of acres needed per head of cattle. 

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5 hours ago, Darth Sidious said:

Fishing would make the most sense. By the way, fish make good fertilizer. Ofcourse, if you want to grow weirwoods you need to sacrifice humans. 

You dont need human sacrifice to grow Weirwood, we dont here of any forrest on the island and Weirwood seem to only grow deep in forrest and need deep soil. And Dragonstone most likely does not have a deep layer of soil.

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On 8/8/2022 at 5:22 AM, Vaegon the dragonless said:

You dont need human sacrifice to grow Weirwood, we dont here of any forrest on the island and Weirwood seem to only grow deep in forrest and need deep soil. And Dragonstone most likely does not have a deep layer of soil.

Then what was the meaning behind Bran’s ancestors killing the man and feeding his blood to Winterfell’s heart tree? It was human sacrifice for the tree. 

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8 hours ago, Darth Sidious said:

Then what was the meaning behind Bran’s ancestors killing the man and feeding his blood to Winterfell’s heart tree? It was human sacrifice for the tree. 

It could be a execution and even if it is a sacrifice (wich I personnaly believe it most likely is) it does not mean the tree need it to grow, that is a huge leap in logic. The Weirwood is the representation of the Old Gods so sacrificing someone to the Old gods would be done in front of a Weirwood for the Gods to see. The ironborn always sacrifice in water because they're god is present where ever the sea is. We know mariages, wich are sacred, are also done in front of a Heart tree, it show us the Godswood is functionally a temple or church and the Heart tree is the altar.

So any religious action, like a sacrifice will be done in front of a carved weirwood, but absolutely does not mean that the actual tree need actual blood. In fact we know Weirwood grows in the deep forrests in the North so it does not need human intervention to grow, it is just rare and needs a number of condition. Including deep soil wich I dont believe there is on Dragonstone.

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