A measurement is the assignment of a number to a characteristic of an object or event, which can be compared with other objects or events. Numerous units of measurement are described in A Song of Ice and Fire, primarily their usage in Westeros.
Measurement units in Westeros are non-metric, growing out of customary use and not abstract principles. Westeros appears to have a uniform system of weights and measures, mentioned interchangeably by characters from Oldtown to King's Landing or Winterfell.
There are several basic units of measurement[N 1] that have been described in usage in Westeros: length, weight, and time. Most other units of measure thus far mentioned in text are units which have been derived from these basic ones, such as area and volume. Additionally, some units of measurements commonly used in the novels are more archaic in their usage; e.g. the term "stone" to indicate weight and the term "league" to indicate distance.
Units of plane angle are apparently also the same in Westeros: a circle is divided up into 360 "degrees". Thus, for example, during the Battle of the Blackwater, Tyrion gives the instruction to swing the catapults "30 degrees west".
Units of measurement
Units of length
The following units of length have been described:
Units of area measurement
The following units of area measurement have been described:
Although an acre is a unit indicating an objective land area, a hide is an administrative unit for measuring monetary production. One "hide" is enough to support one household, e.g. if five fertile acres of farmland produce the same amount of money needed to provide for one household as ten acres of poor swampland do, both groupings are considered to be worth one "hide".
Units of volume
The following units of volume have been described:
"Barrels", filled with foods, wine, or other substances, are also frequently mentioned.[N 10] It is unclear if this term reflects a standardized size and unit of measurement (though possibly differing between type of content; e.g., foods, wine, oil, sand, stone, etc.).
Very powerful medicines administered by maesters are usually just functionally measured in number of drops diluted into water or wine. Any intervening units between a drop and a full pint, for larger amounts of medicine, have not been mentioned, and might just be functionally measured as "a cup" of milk of the poppy or "a spoon" of honey.
Units of weight measurement
The following units of weight measurement have been described:
Units of time measurement
The following units of time measurement have been described:
- Seconds[N 15]
- Minutes[N 16]
- Hours[N 17]
- Days[N 18]
- Weeks[N 19]
- Fortnights[N 20]
- Months,[N 21] moons,[N 22] turns,[N 23] and turns of the moon[N 24]
- Years[N 25]
- Decades[N 26]
- Centuries[N 27]
- Millennia[N 28]
- Eons[N 29]
Regarding the passage of time in A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin has specified "Twelve moon [turns] to a year, as on earth. Even on our earth, years have nothing to do with the seasons, or with the cycles of the moon. A year is a measure of a solar cycle, of how long it takes the earth to make one complete revolution around the sun. The same is true for the world of Westeros.", thereby confirming that a year in A Song of Ice and Fire is as long as a year in real-life. Martin further noted that "Years are not based on seasons, even in the real world. They are based on how long it takes the earth to revolve around the sun... i.e., on astronomy, the position of the sun and moon and stars. Ancient monuments like Stonehenge and Newgrange served astronomical purposes as well as religious, and helped measure the passage of years, the summer and winter solstices, etc."
The calendar system currently used in the Seven Kingdoms uses the start of the reign of King Aegon I Targaryen as the first year on their calendar, dating events using either AC (After the Conquest) or BC (Before the Conquest). Individual months do not appear to have specific names. When referring to a specific day in a specific month, maesters use the format "the twenty-second day of the fifth moon of the year 130 AC". No name for week-days (e.g., "Sunday" or "Wednesday") have been mentioned, and Martin has confirmed that they do not have those names. There is one mention of religious services held in a sept "every seventh day".
It is said that the world's varied cultures, both ancient and modern, all reckon days and seasons and years very differently. Archmaester Walgram's book, The Reckoning of Time, covers this issue, but there is little consensus on what these world dates mean in Westeros reckoning.
Although hours are used in A Song of Ice and Fire as a measurement of time, individual hours have never been referred to by names such as "eleven o'clock". Instead, functional definitions such as dawn, noon, and dusk are used (e.g., "the hours before the dawn".)
Further, at least some individual hours have their own name. According to Martin, these names are used to "refer to times of day and night, but with rather less specificity than our own numerical system of hours and minutes." Named hours include:
- The hour of the bat, apparently some time during deep night to early morning
- The hour of the eel, coming just after the hour of the bat
- The hour of ghosts, coming just after the hour of the eel
- The hour of the owl, coming a few hours after the hour of the bat, still before dawn
- The hour of the wolf, "the blackest part of night", coming after the hour of the owl
- The hour of the nightingale, coming after the hour of the wolf
Behind the Scenes
Elio Garcia, co-author of The World of Ice & Fire, was asked whether units of measurement used by George R. R. Martin in A Song of Ice and Fire correspond to their real-life counterparts, as this is not always the case in fantasy novels.[N 30] Garcia confirmed that "George likes to keep it simple. He doesn't [screw] around with making up definitions for measurements. That way lies madness."
- Based on the defined base units as determined by the International System of Units.
- E.g.,"Bran looked down. There was a narrow ledge beneath the window, only a few inches wide."
- E.g.,"Six and a half feet tall, he towered over lesser men, and when he donned his armor and the great antlered helmet of his House, he became a veritable giant."
- E.g.,"A few yards from her tent was a bed of soft grass."
- E.g., "It was a dark, primal place, three acres of old forest untouched for ten thousand years as the gloomy castle rose around it."
- E.g., "fifty hides of fertile land"
- E.g., "And half a pint of ale."
- E.g., "Much later, after all the sweets had been served and washed down with gallons of summerwine"
- E.g., "a silver stag for a bushel of corn"
- E.g., "Twenty-three barrels of pickled cod, eighteen jars of fish oil, a cask of salt"
- E.g., "Balon Greyjoy had always been thin, but now he looked as though the gods had put him in a cauldron and boiled every spare ounce of flesh from his bones"
- E.g., "Rast had two years and forty pounds on him."
- E.g., "By the look of him, he must have weighed twenty stone."
- E.g., "The bed is solid stone. It weighs half a ton."
- E.g., "The glance that passed between Jaime and Cersei lasted no more than a second, but he did not miss it."
- E.g., "The fight lasted less than a minute"
- E.g., "Everything was just as it had been a few hours ago."
- E.g., "Nine days they had been riding"
- E.g., "Have you drawn any watches this past week, Will?"
- E.g., "If it snows, we could be a fortnight getting back, and snow's the best we can hope for."
- E.g., "What is another few months, another few years?"
- E.g., "She had been born on Dragonstone nine moons after their flight"
- E.g., "Ten years, two turns, and sixteen days it lasted, the longest summer in living memory."
- E.g., "If the winds have been kind, Ser Alliser should reach King's Landing by the turn of the moon"
- E.g., "Gared had spent forty years in the Night's Watch"
- E.g., "the wildwood had come creeping back over the decades"
- E.g., "For centuries the Targaryens had married brother to sister"
- E.g., "Many legends have come down to us through the millennia"
- E.g., "The eons have turned them to stone"
- For example, the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, in which a decimalized system is used for all derived units; e.g., one foot is divided into ten inches instead of twelve, and one stone is ten pounds instead of fourteen.
- Definition of "measurement" as retrieved from Wikipedia on January 26, 2018
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 21, Tyrion III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 59, Tyrion XIII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 23, Daenerys III.
- Wikipedia: League (unit)
- So Spake Martin: Size of Westeros (April 17, 2008)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 66, Tyrion XII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 3, Jon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 2, Sansa I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 32, Tyrion IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 6, Jon I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 11, Theon I.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
- Wikipedia: Stone (unit)
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 12, Tyrion II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 9, Tyrion I.
- A Game of Thrones, Prologue.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Clash of Kings, Prologue.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.
- So Spake Martin: Asshai.com Forum Chat (July 27, 2008)
- So Spake Martin: Measuring Time (June 12, 1999)
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- The Princess and the Queen.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon II.
- So Spake Martin: Dromen & Demonen Chat (April 23, 2002)
- The Sworn Sword.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Other Lands.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
- Not a Blog: Comedy at the Cocteau (Apr. 6th, 2014) – Comment on Apr. 9th, 2014
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 68, The Dragontamer.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 32, Cersei VII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 8, Jaime I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 58, Jon XII.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
- Westeros.org: the ASOIAF wiki thread (June 2, 2018)