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When Jon Snow is captured by the Wildlings in S02E08 of Game of Thrones, the Lord of Bones says

Why would we need a dead man's bastard?

How did they know that Ned Stark was dead? It seems unlikely that a crow carrying the message would be north of The Wall.

25

We don't know exactly how they know this, but it isn't impossible. Wildlings trade with the Night's Watch at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. So it could be that they heard about it from the Night's Watch.

Remember that Ned was warden of the North. Besides the Night's Watch, Ned would be the main force preventing the Wildling invasion, so it makes sense they would be interested in him.

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    Rangers have also been known to communicate with Wildlings in a peaceful manner. For instance Craster was considered a friend of the Watch, and rangers would sometimes stay at his house and probably exchange information. – System Down Aug 22 '13 at 11:38
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    They did not question Qhorin, he made Jon kill him. Remember? – TLP Aug 22 '13 at 12:42
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    @TLP in the show, Qhorin was being escorted by the Widlings, and fakes assaulting Jon in anger, which leads to a duel in which he makes Jon kill him (so he can continue their mission and eventually get out safely). Wildlings only enjoyed the entertainment, they didn't kill Qhorin, nor did they plan to (before questioning). – Petersaber Jun 17 '16 at 16:00
3

Mance Rayder, himself, had been to Winterfell, incognito as a traveling minstrel (when King Robert visits at the very beginning of the saga), so the ability to for people and information to move from one side of the Wall to the other is pretty well established. Plus, as a former member of the Night's Watch, he apparently still had some sources/contacts there (which is how he heard of Robert's trip to Winterfell).

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