In S06 E09 after a lot of the fighting we see piles of dead bodies. Both side were taking heavy loses, but why would such a large mound of bodies form in one place?

How did the pile get formed? Wouldn't soldiers go around the pile once it started to form?

Is there an in-universe reason this may happen or is was it an artistic decision made out-of-universe?

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    @Dawny33 Game of Thrones is on-topic here. I see no need to move this question. – Skooba Jun 23 '16 at 12:43
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    @Dawny33 Not meant to have implied that, sorry for the confusion. If you feel it is unclear feel free to edit it because I am unsure how to make it clearer. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 23 '16 at 12:47
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    @Dawny33 I see this is how do you get such a large mound of bodies from a small fighting force. – Skooba Jun 23 '16 at 12:47
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    @Dawny33 But that's not what this is asking. Reread the question - it's asking "How did these piles form in-universe?". – Dr R Dizzle Jun 23 '16 at 12:47
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    Also relevant: youtube.com/watch?v=04F4xlWSFh0 – Skooba Jun 23 '16 at 12:53

Mike.C.Ford gave a really good answer. I would just like to add that the producers said they based their "pile of bodies" on real war accounts of bodies piling up so much that it was hard to walk around the battlefield, as seen in this behind-the-scenes video of said episode:

Edit: As @DCShannon said in the comments, they start talking about the body pile around 6:30.

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    They start talking about the body pile around 6:30. – DCShannon Jun 23 '16 at 21:23

Usually in a battle, the front lines where the main fighting force clashes tends to move about. It may stay in a reasonably still position, but as one side starts to win and another starts to lose ground, the position of their fighting will change slightly, leaving the already dead bodies behind.

The difference with this fight is that they had a merciless Bolton commander, who did not care who was killed in the volleys of arrows. His archers continued to fire, wiping out both armies, in the same position. This meant when the arrows killed a majority of the force in a single position over and over, any ground that may have been gained was lost, and the sides would come together and clash in the same place.

Based on the size of the forces, it was probably artistic license that the pile got so big, enough to create a literal wall (including the fact that had the bodies fallen naturally it would likely have formed more of a hill with a shallower gradient, based on bodies simply falling down the edges).

However, I'm assuming the idea of the battle was that the unorthodox occurrence of one side firing in a single position, killing soldiers on both sides repeatedly, caused the huge pile of bodies in a single position, thus forming the wall of bodies.

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    Which, then, begs the question: what is the angle of repose for a pile of corpses? c: – Magnanimancer Jun 23 '16 at 20:21

I'd assume that, in a battle, your choices of where you want to go and whether you'd be allowed to get there, are somewhat limited vs walking to get from point A to point B.

If I have armed hostile fighters to either side of me, and the only space open is forward over some dead bodies, then it's forward I go, for instance. Maybe fighting through five stacked bodies is preferable to the armored horseman to my left. Maybe my best friend is ahead and under duress and I don't have time to wind my way around the pile. If I break formation for friendlier terrain, maybe the enemy can punch through and hit formations from my army from the rear while they are already engaged.

Those are a few possible reasons I can think of.

  • Reasonable guesses, but clearly guesses. – DCShannon Jun 23 '16 at 21:16
  • The question is such that one can't do much more than speculate or guess, because there are so many possible reasons. – PoloHoleSet Jun 24 '16 at 14:00

As was mentioned in battlefield accounts of Agincourt, Canne and battles in the civil war... Body piles tend to amass quickly when there is a limited field of advance, with men continuing to advance over and over again in the same direction. In the show this is aided by a never ending volley of arrow fire by the Boltons that landed more or less in the same spot, preventing Bolton troops from retreating or the Starks from advancing very far. ADDITIONALLY there were the bodies of hundreds of horses that clashed initally in the charge, they formed the large base of the pile (2 or 3 horses laying on top of each other is about 5 to 6 feet high) then add men killed as they climbed over and Bam you have a huge body pile of wounded and killed men.


If you didn't see the actual formation of the piles during the episode, it is possible that the bodies were dragged from where they died and tossed on top of other dead bodies during the fighting, perhaps to form some type of defensive walls or barriers.

When I read about piles of dead warriors in fantasy, I think about the Silmarilion where Morgoth's troops piled up the dead bodies of elves and men into a great hill after the Battle of Tears Unnumbered, so I naturally assume that the bodies in such a question would have been deliberately piled up for some reason instead of remaining where they had been killed.

It would be very hard to keep on fighting where the ground was thickly covered by bodies even if they were only one body deep, so piles of dead bodies naturally suggest that they were moved from where they died and heaped up for some reason.

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