Fight at the Bridge of Skulls

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Fight at the Bridge of Skulls
Conflict Conflict Beyond the Wall
Date +/- 300 AC
Place Bridge of Skulls and the Gorge
Result Night's Watch victory
Night's Watch.svg Night's Watch Free folk
Night's Watch.svg Ser Denys Mallister
Night's Watch.svg Lord Steward Bowen Marsh
The Weeper
Fewer than 400 from Castle Black[N 1]
~100 from the Shadow Tower
More than 100[1]
Ser Endrew Tarth
Ser Aladale Wynch
Watt of Long Lake

The fight at the Bridge of Skulls[2] is a costly victory for the Night's Watch over wildlings during the conflict beyond the Wall. It is fought on the Bridge of Skulls and near the Gorge.


Mance Rayder, the King-Beyond-the-Wall, leads the gathered free folk south, hoping to lead them through the gates at Castle Black after having learned that the bulk of the fighting force of the Night's Watch has been wiped out in the fight at the Fist by the Others. 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]

Mance sends several small raiding parties to attack various points along the Wall. This prompts Bowen Marsh, the Lord Steward and castellan of Castle Black, to march with the garrison, taking most of the fighting men still remaining there. Bowen leaves only the old, the green, and the sickly behind to defend Castle Black.[3]

Bowen chases wildlings to the Shadow Tower and beyond, into the Gorge.[1] As Castle Black prepares for the attack from the south by Styr and his men, Donal Noye sends riders after Bowen to fetch them back.[5]


When the Weeper tries to cut his way across the Gorge[6] with three hundred free folk raiders,[1] Bowen Marsh and the Night's Watch confront them on the Bridge of Skulls. It is a bloody battle, with more than a hundred brothers of the Watch slain in the engagement, among them Ser Endrew Tarth and Ser Aladale Wynch. Bowen is seriously wounded in the battle.[1]


The wounded Bowen Marsh has to be carried back to the Shadow Tower. Ser Denys Mallister, the Commander of the Shadow Tower, sends a raven to Castle Black to inform its defenders that it will take some time before Bowen is fit enough to return. This news arrives as Castle Black is under assault from the main wildling force of Mance Rayder.[1]

When Denys rides east toward Castle Black with Bowen and other survivors from the Bridge of Skulls, their column encounters Samwell Tarly and Gilly beneath the Wall.[2]

The Weeper survives the Bridge of Skulls and remains beyond the Wall. Tormund later believes that the Weeping Man will attempt to cross the bridge again.[6]

Known Participants


Edd: The gods always smiled on Watt, though. When the wildlings knocked him off the Bridge of Skulls, somehow he landed in a nice deep pool of water. How lucky was that, missing all those rocks?

Grenn: Was it a long fall? Did landing in the pool of water save his life?

Edd: No, he was dead already, from that axe in his head. Still, it was pretty lucky, missing the rocks.[2]

We bled to stop the wildlings at the Gorge. Good men were slain there, friends and brothers.[7]


  1. According to A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, there are six hundred men at Castle Black and two hundred men at the Shadow Tower. According to A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, the great ranging includes two hundred men from Castle Black and one hundred men from the Shadow Tower, leaving four hundred men at the former castle and one hundred men at the latter. Bowen Marsh departs Castle Black with its garrison to confront wildlings raiding along the Wall. According to A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, a dozen survivors of the mutiny at Craster's Keep have returned to Castle Black, and Jarman Buckwell returns from the great ranging as well. According to Donal Noye in the same chapter, Castle Black has forty-odd men when Jon Snow returns to the castle.