The Wall is the name given to the vast structure that forms the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms on the continent of Westeros. It is the second-tallest structure in Westeros, exceeded in height only by the Hightower of Oldtown, but is by far the largest artificial structure known to exist in the world.
Composition and size
The Wall is made of solid ice, althouth the top is compacted with gravel near the inhabited castles. The Wall stretches for 300 miles from the Gorge to the Bay of Seals and is approximately 700 feet tall. At its top it is wide enough for a dozen horsemen to ride abreast, and is thicker at the base. According to myth, spells are woven into the Wall to prevent it collapsing from mundane causes and to keep certain entities, such as the Others, from passing.
The Wall's height is not uniform, and in some areas comes close to 900 feet in height. However, in many areas the lower third or so of the Wall is actually built into naturally-occurring hills. This was done deliberately by Bran the Builder to strengthen the structure.
The Wall is held to be over eight thousand years old and was built by Bran the Builder following the War for the Dawn. According to legend, Westeros barely survived the invasion of the demonic ice-creatures known as the Others. Once they were turned back, humanity built the Wall, assisted by the Children of the Forest and giants, as a defensive bulwark against the Others' return. The Sworn Brotherhood of the Night's Watch was founded to man the Wall and defend it against all threats from the North, and it has done so ever since.
In recent times, the manpower of the Wall has fallen precipitously, and a mere one thousand men now hold the entire one-hundred-league length of the structure. At the conclusion of the War of the Five Kings, Stannis Baratheon came to the Wall with fifteen hundred of his men, planning to use it as a base of operations for renewed campaigning to win the Iron Throne. At Stannis' direction, the Night's Watch was to allow wildlings to settle and rebuild the other castles and help defend the Wall against the threat of the Others.
The Wall castles
The Wall is guarded by nineteen castles which act as garrisons for the Night's Watch. Over the centuries, as the manpower of the Watch has dropped, these castles have gradually been abandoned, until only three are currently inhabited: the Shadow Tower near the western edge of the Wall; Castle Black in the centre, at the northern end of the Kingsroad; and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where the Wall meets the sea. Of the remaining castles, the western-most one at Westwatch-by-the-Bridge has partially fallen into the Gorge and been destroyed. The remaining castles are in varying states of disrepair.
The full list of Wall castles from west to east is:
- The Shadow Tower
- Sentinel Stand
- Hoarfrost Hill
- The Nightfort
- Deep Lake
- Castle Black
- Sable Hall
- The Long Barrow
- The Torches