Lord Cregan Stark, Warden of the North, marched south during the Dance of the Dragons in support of first Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen and then her son, King Aegon III Targaryen. Cregan's army, which is said to have numbered between eight thousand and twenty thousand men, arrived at King's Landing after the death of King Aegon II Targaryen and the end of fighting. Many of the northerners were childless and homeless men, unwed men, old men, and younger sons, people who might become burdens in the upcoming winter if they returned north. Alysanne Blackwood, who became betrothed to Lord Cregan during the Hour of the Wolf, suggested that northmen remain in the south to help rebuild the riverlands, as many widows had lost their husbands during the war.
More than a thousand northmen returned to the riverlands with Cregan and Alysanne. Hundreds of women met their husbands in Widow Fairs held at Fairmarket, Raventree Hall, Riverrun, Stoney Sept, and the Twins. Many men who did not want to marry at that time took service as guards and men-at-arms, while some became criminals; houses Blackwood and Tully in particular benefited from the northmen. They revived worship of the old gods in the south. Other northmen helped found two free companies in Essos, the Wolf Pack and Stormbreakers.