Is it possible for the enemies of the Wall (wildlings etc) to light a fire so big that it will melt the Wall?
12Maybe a dragon?– Paul D. WaiteApr 9, 2014 at 15:53
1@matejkramny The wall is magical, but there is nothing that says it cannot be melted. In fact, we see it melting on the surface, and also there is no one alive with knowledge of the magical nature of the wall that can say it cannot melt.– TLPApr 10, 2014 at 14:03
3This isn't an answer to your actual question, but something to keep in mind: the true purpose of the Wall is implied NOT to be keeping Wildlings out, but Others and their wights (something the current Crows seem to have forgotten! Wildlings aren't the actual enemy). The magic from the Wall prevents Others from crossing it, and they seem to fear fire. So it doesn't matter all that much whether it can be melted with fire, because Others would never try it.– Andres F.Apr 23, 2014 at 22:38
2@PaulD.Waite your prophecy has come true– GooseAug 28, 2017 at 3:23
4@Goose: I’m gonna go to a big party to celebrate. Who wants to come three-eyed raving?– Paul D. WaiteAug 28, 2017 at 11:32
With the release of the latest episode, the answer now appears to be yes.
In Season 7, Episode 7, with the help of an undead dragon, the wall has been melted.
The discussion on if the dragon was breathing fire is discussed below.
One plausible counter argument you could make, is that fire didn't destroy the wall, but rather the magic of the Dragon Fire and/or Night King himself. The wall was created by magic (the details are uncertain), and you could argue it takes magic to destroy magic.
3Now we can use the numbers from an earlier answer to do physics calculations and determine how many joules of energy are in dragon fire. Gah, this sounds like a question for XKCD.– RichSAug 28, 2017 at 19:21
It's still debatable as to whether the dragon's breathing fire or something else. Says the guy who has the second highest answer to the linked question, with this as the central point, as of right now.– user40790Aug 29, 2017 at 0:25
Let's run the numbers:
- The wall is 700 feet high = 213 meters
- On its top, 12 knights can ride abreast and it's wider at the base. Let's say that's 25 meters wide at the top and 75 at the base, so 50 on average.
- It takes 334 kilojoules to melt 1kg of ice (if it's at 0 degrees C to begin with, but the melting energy is large compared to what it takes to heat up).
- Oak wood yields about 15 megajoules per kg when burned
- An oak tree weighs about 14 tonnes
- A 100m section of wall would contain about 213*50*100*1000 = about 1 billion kg of ice.
- Burning 1 kg of wood can melt (at 70% efficiency) about 30 kg of ice.
- Which means you'd need to burn about 2500 fully grown trees
In practice, efficiency would be lower, but you wouldn't need to melt the entire wall section to make it collapse. OTOH, the melting water as well as partial collapses would tend to extinguish the fire.
Given a force of many thousands of wildlings, as well as giants and Mammoths, it seems doable. But it would be a massive effort requiring many days, and giving the Night's Watch ample warning (via a gigantic smoke cloud, even if there were no patrols) and time for countermeasures.
Simply digging a tunnel would seem to be an easier and quicker alternative.
2@Dacio - I thought it was implied the Wildlings are content to dwell north of the wall, aside from the occasional raiding party which can scale the wall. Of course that changes when the White Walkers become a threat...– RobertFApr 9, 2014 at 16:28
292500 trees would also feels like it should be plenty of wood to build nice scaffolding and luxurious staircases on both sides of the well. Apr 9, 2014 at 19:11
12There is a point in the Wall being made of ice: The Others cannot use fire.– TLPApr 9, 2014 at 21:30
7This reminded me so much of a what-if XKCD article.– asteriApr 9, 2014 at 23:07
2But does magic ice have the same heat of fusion as mundane ice?– sjlApr 11, 2014 at 1:47
It should be. In the very first sentences of the first book GRRM writes that the wall "was weeping", that is, it was dropping water from the ice. This means that during the Great Summer the ambient temperature is really near to the water melting point (0C).
A different question is if the Night Watch would allow it.
A third point would be that melting the wall in part will cause water enough to kill the fire!
I just took an ice cube and held it near to a candles fire. It is still burning. I am sure with enough wood you can create a fire in a way that it still melts the ice while the water is flowing elsewhere.– PlasmaHHApr 10, 2014 at 8:50
Yes, no, but.
There are good answers on if it, as it stands, would be feasible. One point though is that a ice-construction like the wall would not remain with that shape. Put simply it would become more like a big heap of ice as the weight of the wall forces the construction to widen making it a slope of ice rather then a wall. A big one, but still.
From what I know there is no maintenance crew making sure the walls are steep etc. so in other words other forces has to be at work for it even to be standing as it is. As such once have to take into account that the wall itself is under some sort of protection or time-warp-anomaly.
By which the melting by fire also might prove futile.
1I think it's been stated that Brandon the Builder used some mystical elements when he designed/built the Wall in the first place, which could be why it's maintained it's shape for so long.– Monty129Apr 23, 2014 at 23:00
1@Monty129: Yes, also read that somewhere, and meant it indirectly, as such my point was that if it is protected from deforming then perhaps from (truly) melting as well ... even with a big "bonfire". As in it was not only built with, but also protected with mysticismical à la magic. Apr 28, 2014 at 16:16
There are tunnels through the wall so we know that the wall isnt indestructable.
So, if the wildings could get enough raw material ( Wood, oil etc ) to the wall and they could light a fire and keep it going for a few days they could start making dents in the wall. I dont think that the entire wall could be melted but a hole through a wall could deff be done if done in secrecy.
Most of the rangers are dead. Only 3 forts on the wall are operable ( barely ) and the Black Brothers are very few in numbers.
"if done in secrecy" is the key point. A fire big enough to do reasonable damage to the wall would be noticed quite easily.– KevinApr 9, 2014 at 14:22
Most of the rangers are dead. Only 3 forts on the wall are operable ( barely ) and the Black Brothers are very few in numbers.- This opinion is dependent on which book you're on Apr 9, 2014 at 16:10
1@danrhul But it has been more or less true for decades. The Watch was dwindling long before the start of AGOT, and the wildlings, we learn, vastly outnumber them. That situation doesn't arise ahem over night.– DacioApr 9, 2014 at 16:23
2@Dacio Of course, but it's worth noting. The window of opportunity to attempt something like this is fairly small in the timeline of Westeros (a few hundred years) and there's also a pretty good reason current wildlings wouldn't want to melt down the wall Apr 9, 2014 at 16:26
1“There are tunnels through the wall so we know that the wall isnt indestructable.” Or the tunnels have been there since the wall’s construction. Jul 31, 2014 at 9:35
As far as I know, (no sources at the moment, sorry) the wall is magically protected against melting completely, but partly the ice can melt ("The wall is weeping" from the prolog from the first book)
5weeping. "Whining" makes no sense. Apr 9, 2014 at 15:43
Magic only lasts until some other magic comes along. Who knows what will happen to the wall in Book 12. (semi- smiley) Apr 9, 2014 at 20:32
@kundor: but kind of cute though :) Like a tantrum. Apr 28, 2014 at 16:13
@CarlWitthoft Book 12? What do you mean? Only Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring remain; 7 books in total.– TylerHSep 15, 2014 at 13:38
@TylerH That's why the smiley. Just because GRRM says there are 2 books to go doesn't mean that's how it'll work out. Ya just gotta hope it doesn't end up like the Asian Saga series (Clavell) -- he died with planned sequels lined up. Sep 15, 2014 at 13:59