Moat Cailin

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Moat Cailin
Ancient fortress ruins
Moat cailin by reneaigner.jpg
Art work by Reneaigner ©
Location Westeros, The North, The Neck
Founded Dawn Age
Moat Cailin is located in The North
Moat Cailin
The North and the location of Winterfell
Moat Cailin by Cris Urdiales ©

Moat Cailin is an ancient stronghold of the First Men[1] on the northern edge of the great swamp known as the Neck, in the North. It is less than twenty miles from the headwaters of the Fever River. It is one of the North's most important strongholds, though much of it now stands in ruins. Its importance stems from the fact that it commands the causeway, which is the safe route for armies to travel through the swamps of the Neck.

Moat Cailin is an effective natural choke point which has protected the North from southern invasion for thousands of years. The only way for an invader to effective bypass Moat Cailin is to win the allegiance of House Reed and the crannogmen who know of other routes through the swamps. These routes, such as narrow trails between the bogs and wet roads through the reeds that only boats can follow, are not on any map. Given the Reeds' strong ancestral ties to House Stark, they are unlikely to aid southerners.

Contents

History

It is claimed that Moat Cailin was raised roughly 10,000 years ago, by the the First Men. A great stronghold, with twenty towers and great basalt curtain wall as high as that of Winterfell's.[1] It used to be a key defence of the north,[2] against which the Andal armies threw themselves time after time with no success.

Today only great blocks of black basalt lay scattered about, half sunk in the ground, where the wall once stood. The wooden keep rotted away a thousand years past[1] and three remaining towers out of a fabled twenty are green with moss.

According to myth, the children of the forest attempted to use Moat Cailin to hold back the flood of invading Andals. When that failed due to the humans superior numbers, the Children attempted to shatter the Neck by working powerful magics from the Children's Tower and completely separate the north from the south in the same manner they shattered the Arm of Dorne centuries earlier. The Children failed and only succeeded in flooding it, creating bogs and swamps. However, the swampy terrain was enough to prevent The Andals from ever taking Moat Cailin.

In the present era most of Moat Cailin's former towers have fallen into ruin and have not been permanently manned for centuries. However, the three remaining towers are more than capable of defending the passage to the south, provided that they are fully manned. [1]

Towers

The remaining three towers command the causeway from all sides and enemies must pass between them. Attackers would have to face constant fire from the other towers should they attempt to attack any one tower, wading through chest deep water and crossing a moat.[3]

The three remaining towers of Moat Cailin are as follows:

Recent Events

Theon Greyjoy rides to Moat Cailin - by Marc Simonetti ©

A Game of Thrones

On the march south, Robb Stark takes the Gatehouse Tower as his seat, Greatjon Umber takes the Children's Tower for his and Rickard Karstark, the Drunkard's Tower.[3]

A Clash of Kings

Victarion Greyjoy is sent by his brother Balon Greyjoy to take Moat Cailin by sailing up the Saltspear and the Fever River.[4] The fortress was only designed to resist attack from the south, and thus its northern flank is relatively exposed to attack by even a small force. This weakness is exploited by the ironborn in the Battle of Moat Cailin during the War of the Five Kings.

Believing that the Neck is the key to the kingdom Balon reasons on Pyke,

Once we hold Moat Cailin, the pup will not be able to win back to the north . . . and if he is fool enough to try, his enemies will seal the south end of the causeway behind him, and Robb the boy will find himself caught like a rat in a bottle. [5]

After Theon Greyjoy declares himself the Prince of Winterfell Maester Luwin councils Theon that Moat Cailin sits on the edge of the bogs. Lord Howland can make his uncle’s occupation a visit to hell if he chooses, but so long as Theon hold his heirs Jojen Reed and Meera Reed he must stay his hand. [6]

A Storm of Swords

Upon hearing of his brother Balon's death, Victaron leaves a token force under the command of Ralf Kenning behind to hold the Moat, while he sails to decide the issue of the new Iron King.

At Oldstones, upon receiving the news of Balon Greyjoy’s death from the captain of the Myraham, Robb Stark immediately makes plans to march on Moat Cailin. He realises that Victarion will have been compelled to return to Pyke. Robb states to his bannermen,

Moat Cailin is the key. Lord Balon knew that, which is why he sent his brother Victarion there with the hard heart of the Greyjoy strength. [7]

A Feast for Crows

The sixty-three-man ironborn garrison begins to run low on food and supplies.

A Dance with Dragons

Ramsay Bolton sends Theon Greyjoy to offer the ironborn food and safe passage in return if they surrender unarmed. When they do surrender Ramsay has all sixty three of them flayed alive. The next day their skinless bodies, still dripping fresh blood, are put on pikes and displayed along the road.[8] Ramsay and Theon meet the returning northern host of Lord Roose Bolton and his Frey allies at Moat Cailin.

Chapters that take place at Moat Cailin


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