Attack on Castle Black

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Attack on Castle Black
Battle of Castle Black by Giliberti.jpg
© 2005 M. Luisa Giliberti
Conflict Conflict beyond the Wall
Date 300 AC
Place Castle Black
Result Castle Black garrison victory
Combatants
Free folk Castle Black garrison
Commanders
Styr Donal Noye
Jon Snow
Strength
114 40+
  • ~40 men of Castle Black garrison[N 1]
  • Unknown number of Mole's Town residents
Casualties
114 Dick Follard, Rast, Dornish Dilly, Easy, Old Henly, Young Henly

The attack on Castle Black is a battle which takes place at Castle Black on the south side of the Wall in the north during the conflict beyond the Wall. The Thenn Styr leads nearly a hundred-and-twenty warriors over the Wall, hoping to take Castle Black unaware from the south and open the gate to let Mance Rayder and his main force through the Wall.

Prelude

Having learned that the bulk of the Watch's fighting force has been wiped out in the fight at the Fist by the Others, Mance Rayder plans to lead his main host through the gate in the Wall by Castle Black. In order to do so, he first plans to weaken the strength of the brothers of the Night's Watch who still remain at the castle.[3][4] He sends out several smaller raiding parties, which prompts Lord Steward Bowen Marsh to march, taking most of the fighting men still remaining at Castle Black with him, leaving only the old, the green, and the sickly behind to defend Castle Black. Bowen leaves the infirm Ser Wynton Stout as castellan, although the blacksmith Donal Noye takes de facto leadership due to Stout's senility.[3]

Next, Mance sends Styr, the Magnar of Thenn, and Jarl as joint commanders with a force of a hundred Thenns and twenty of Jarl's raiders to scale the Wall and take the weakly-defended Castle Black unaware from the south.[1] Among Jarl's raiders are the spearwife Ygritte, Errok, Grigg the Goat, Quort, Bodger, Hempen Dan, Del, Henk the Helm, Toefinger, and Big Boil,[5] as well as Jon Snow, pretending to have abandoned the Night's Watch.[2] They climb the Wall near Greyguard,[6] at a spot where the Wall rises eight hundred feet above the forest floor. Despite the Wall there being about a hundred feet higher than usual, a third of the Wall's total height is earth and stone, making it easier to climb. Under the command of Jarl, Errok, and Grigg three groups of four raiders climb the Wall using spiked boots, hammers, axes, and ropes. After six hours of climbing, Jarl's group touches upon a patch of bad ice at a height of six hundred feet and falls to their deaths.[2] The other eight climbers reach the top of the Wall as the sun starts to set. They hoist up ladders attached to the ropes by the raiders who had remained behind on the ground, allowing the other hundred and eight warriors to climb to the top more easily. Two more Thenns fall to their deaths during the climb. Near midnight the others reach the top of the Wall.[2]

Styr leads his warriors off of the Wall at Greyguard, an abandoned castle of the Night's Watch where the presence of huge stone steps improve the descent. From there, the group goes deeply into the Gift, passing a few inhabited villages and scattered roundtowers on the way.[5] At Queenscrown, Jon Snow escapes the raiding party and travels back to Castle Black by the way of Mole's Town in time to warn the remaining brothers of the Night's Watch of the on-coming attack from the south.[5][3] Three-quarters of the residents of Mole's Town flee to the castle, all of them helping prepare for the assault in some way. Donal Noye and Jon organize the defense around archers in the towers and a line of fighting men on the massive wooden staircase that zigzags up the south face of the Wall. As suggested by Maester Aemon, "scarecrow sentinels", dummy soldiers dressed in the clothes of a brother of the Night's Watch, are posted at roofs and windows to inflate their numbers.[7] Further, Aemon sent letters to each of the four kings in the realm, aswell as Oldtown and the Citadel, and half a hundred lords, including many northern lords.[7][N 2]

Attack on Castle Black

Styr announces his upcoming arrival by torching Mole's Town early in the morning. The beacon on Weatherback Ridge is lit in response by the Night's Watch. Styr begins his attack at nightfall. As the raiders and Thenns begin to storm Castle Black, the archers positioned in the three towers of the castle start to shoot down their arrows. Big Boil attempts to break down the door of Hardin's Tower, but is scared off by an arrow from Jon Snow and later injured by an arrow from Mully. The common hall is set aflame by the free folk and the Thenns, as are the armory and the west stables, after which fifty more Thenns are summoned by a warhorn, marching up the kingsroad in a tight column. Others approach the castle through the vegetable garden. The Thenns storm the castle's gate and are subsequently attacked both by Jon Snow and Satin from the King's Tower and the defenders stationed on the stairs.[7] A group of Thenns breaks down the barricade on the door of the King's Tower. Jon and Satin pour boiling oil on the men who attempt to reach their level, next blocking the trap door with the heavy iron kettle.[7]

The defenders at the gate are overwhelmed by the attacking Thenns, and the habitants from Mole's Town break and flee the scene, leaving only the black brothers who are too few to stop the enemy. The spearmen positioned on the two lowest landings of the steps flee as well, going upwards to safety. After the first five landings are taken by the Thenns, Styr gathers some of his men at the barricade while the Night's Watch resorts to their last plan. The stair, soaked in oil between the seventh and nineth landing, is set ablaze. Most Thenns are killed either by the fire or by the ice that breaks down from the Wall due to the heat.destroying the stair and killing Styr and most of his men. With their deaths, the attack is at an end.[7]

Aftermath

After the deaths of Styr and his men, Jon Snow leaves the King's Tower with the help of Satin. Below, he finds many of the free folk and the Thenns he had known either dead or dying. Jon finds Ygritte, who is wounded by an arrow and dies in Jon's arms.[7] Jon personally burns her remains.[6]

Most residents of Mole's Town return back home, although a few stay behind at Castle Black: the stablehand Hareth, the whore Zei, and three young boys who became orphans when their father died during the attack.[6]

Knowing Mance Rayder and his main force are coming, the Night's Watch begins to prepare for the battle beneath the Wall.[6] Due to the destruction of the stairs leading to the top of the Wall, the brothers can use only the winch to raise them up.[6] It takes almost a day to clear the ice and broken beams which had been blocking the inner gate.[6]

Notes

References