In A Dance with Dragons, there's a scene where Bran and company are north of the Wall. Coldhands brings food and says he killed a pig, but it'd been quite a while since they'd seen any game at all and also...

This came right after Bran via Summer saw the party of Night's Watch deserters who Coldhands had slaughtered. The dismemberment was described in lurid detail, and seemed to be more than required to kill them (legs hacked off, etc).

Was it really pork they were eating?

  • 26
    Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to ;-)
    – Möoz
    May 2, 2018 at 4:17
  • While unconfirmed, I'm unconvinced one is meant to believe it to be pork.
    – Edlothiad
    May 2, 2018 at 6:17
  • 5
    I believe it was human meat. In ADWD Bran I, the phrase is The ranger killed a pig, Italics included. The odds of finding a pig there are astronomical. It has to be human meat, taken from corpses of the mutineers.
    – Aegon
    May 2, 2018 at 6:30
  • 9
    It's called "long pig" after all.
    – Doomfrost
    May 2, 2018 at 8:58
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    – Ivo
    May 2, 2018 at 9:09

3 Answers 3


The chapter is told from Bran's perspective. When he wakes up, Meera tells him it is a pig.

Falling snow and feasting wolves began to dim. Warmth beat against his face, comforting as a mother's kisses. Fire, he thought, smoke. His nose twitched to the smell of roasting meat. And then the forest fell away, and he was back in the longhall again, back in his broken body, staring at a fire. Meera Reed was turning a chunk of raw red flesh above the flames, letting it char and spit. "Just in time," she said. Bran rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hand and wriggled backwards against the wall to sit. "You almost slept through supper. The ranger found a sow."

Behind her, Hodor was tearing eagerly at a chunk of hot charred flesh as blood and grease ran down into his beard. Wisps of smoke rose from between his fingers. "Hodor," he muttered between bites, "hodor, hodor." His sword lay on the earthen floor beside him. Jojen Reed nipped at his own joint with small bites, chewing each chunk of meat a dozen times before swallowing.

The ranger killed a pig. Coldhands stood beside the door, a raven on his arm, both staring at the fire. Reflections from the flames glittered off four black eyes. He does not eat, Bran remembered, and he fears the flames.
A Dance with Dragons, Bran I

But we are given plenty of hints that this might not be the case. First of all, it's north of the wall, a desolate place. Every settlement they find has been deserted. What are the chances of finding a pig, a domesticated pig?

The unlikeliness of this is enhanced by the fact that, as you pointed out, there is readily available meat in the form of dead rangers closeby.

"What happened to the men? The foes behind us?"

"They will not trouble you."

"Who were they? Wildlings?"

Meera turned the meat to cook the other side. Hodor was chewing and swallowing, muttering happily under his breath. Only Jojen seemed aware of what was happening as Coldhands turned his head to stare at Bran. "They were foes."

Men of the Night's Watch. "You killed them. You and the ravens. Their faces were all torn, and their eyes were gone." Coldhands did not deny it. "They were your brothers. I saw. The wolves had ripped their clothes up, but I could still tell. Their cloaks were black. Like your hands."

So all in all, it is very unlikely that it is a pig.

  1. It's near impossible to find a pig
  2. There was plenty of other meat to serve as food instead.
  • 2
    Given (if Aegon can be believed) "The ranger killeda pig" was written in Italics in the original book, I highly doubt that shows Bran's belief that it was pig meat.
    – Edlothiad
    May 2, 2018 at 6:42
  • 1
    @Edlothiad asoiaf doesn't show italics, and I don't have the copy on hand. Would like for someone to confirm that.
    – JAD
    May 2, 2018 at 6:44
  • 4
    My e-copy does have the italics. Can confirm that.
    – Aegon
    May 2, 2018 at 7:07
  • 8
    I thought the italics just indicated in character thinking, not doubt.
    – Paul
    May 2, 2018 at 11:37
  • @Paul that comment refers to the initial text of my answer. I initially wrote that Bran blissfully assumed it was pork, but this appeared to be wrong. Italics do indeed denote thoughts.
    – JAD
    May 2, 2018 at 11:40

To complement @JAD's answer, there actually is some foreshadowing whilst Bran is warged into Summer when he comes across the dead. The chapter refers to the dead as meat more than anything and Bran even seemed to like the taste of it.

Sleep would not come, could not come. Instead there was wind, the biting cold, moonlight on snow, and fire. He was back inside Summer, long leagues away, and the night was rank with the smell of blood. The scent was strong. A kill, not far. The flesh would still be warm. Slaver ran between his teeth as the hunger woke inside him. Not elk. Not deer. Not this.
Men. The stink of them filled the world. Alive, they had been as many as the fingers on a man's paw, but now they were none. Dead. Done. Meat. Cloaked and hooded, once, but the wolves had torn their clothing into pieces in their frenzy to get at the flesh. Those who still had faces wore thick beards crusted with ice and frozen snot. The falling snow had begun to bury what remained of them, so pale against the black of ragged cloaks and breeches. Black.
The direwolf did not care. They were meat. He was hungry.
The prey as well. He went from man to man, sniffing, before settling on the biggest, a faceless thing who clutched black iron in one hand. His other hand was missing, severed at the wrist, the stump bound up in leather. Blood flowed thick and sluggish from the slash across his throat. The wolf lapped at it with his tongue, licked the ragged eyeless ruin of his nose and cheeks, then buried his muzzle in his neck and tore it open, gulping down a gobbet of sweet meat. No flesh had ever tasted half as good.
A Dance with Dragons, Bran I

Right after he's had some of the flesh himself he is awoken by the flames and cooking meat and told about the "pig". It's important to note that this comes about later on in the story after Bran has been struggling to set his own needs apart form Summer's which is also why he was really enjoying eating the fresh kill earlier.

"I'm sick of frogs." Meera was a frogeater from the Neck, so Bran couldn't really blame her for catching so many frogs, he supposed, but even so... "I wanted to eat the deer." For a moment he remembered the taste of it, the blood and the raw rich meat, and his mouth watered. I won the fight for it. I won.
"I will. I'll remember. I could go back and do it now, if you like. I won't forget this time." But I'll eat my deer first, and fight with those little wolves some more.
Jojen shook his head. "No. Best stay, and eat. With your own mouth. A warg cannot live on what his beast consumes."
A Storm of Swords, Bran I


As a contrary point: pigs escape from farms and live quite well in the wilds. They can be nuisance animals, in fact. There have been farms north of the Wall, so at some point pigs may have escaped and started a population. They may even pre-date the Wall.

  • Pigs also travel in pack when they find each other. May 2, 2018 at 22:37
  • Craster's pigs on the loose should get their own short story :)
    – m1gp0z
    Feb 19, 2019 at 17:54

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