The whole question is just a massive spoiler:

Given that dragonglass kills the Others wouldn't it be easier to equip armies with dragonglass weapons than build a Wall this massive?

  • 3
    How much dragonglass is there in the world?
    – user8719
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 23:18
  • A real lot? Check Dragonstone. Also, Asshai exports it.
    – chx
    Commented Jun 29, 2014 at 23:20
  • 13
    Why did the Chinese build their Great Wall if arrows and swords could kill invading marauders? The answer to this question probably applies to Westeros as well.
    – Andres F.
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 0:28
  • 1
    I can tell you for what it wasn't built. It wasn't built to keep her Gilly and her kind. And winter is coming for all of them.
    – user24620
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 0:58
  • 3
    You build a wall as a static defence, to slow down attackers. This is not really a question about ASOIAF, its a question about warfare in general.
    – TLP
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 11:20

5 Answers 5


I think the simplest explanation would be this:

When you have an army of zombies ready to attack any given moment, you would have to have guards from coast to coast ready to kill zombies every second. The Wall is ~300 miles long. So, to guard all that space without a 'barrier', you would need hundreds and thousands of warriors.

With the Wall, the Night's Watch had the ability to have a lot of warriors/defenders (of the realm), but not all of them where posted on guard at the same time. Some of them are guarding the Wall, and when they see an army or whatever advancing towards them, they can warn the rest of the defenders of the realm.

No matter how 'easily' you can defeat your foes, it is pretty helpful to have such a big help.

  • I believe it's noted in the books that even with the Wall, the Night's Watch is sorely below strength and has had to abandon most of the fortifications. So in practice, the Wall will slow down but not stop an army intent on invading the South. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 13:47
  • @Codes with Hammer The actual numbers of the Wall Garrison are referred to throughout the books. The state of the keeps along the wall also.
    – Cherubel
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:28
  • @Cherubel: I haven't read the books, so I have to infer from the Wiki of Ice & Fire as well as this site. I'm working my way through season 3 of the show. Given that, is my understanding correct, that the Watch is far below strength? Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 14:58
  • 1
    This was my general thinking as well. Even with a standing army armed with aforementioned material - you would need a lot of them, constantly, at attention, everywhere across the border. With the wall - you have a barrier which allows you to organize you mean effectively depending on the incoming threat.
    – joshbirk
    Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 15:27
  • 2
    Another thing that must be noted is that the Wall is also magical. The Others cannot pass through it, even if it was unguarded. They would have to destroy the Wall first. Commented Jun 30, 2014 at 16:40

This is like asking why the Chinese built the Great Wall of China, when they had an army with cross-bows, swords, and spears, which could kill their enemies. Having an effective weapon is great, but fortifications are still very helpful in a war.


This reminds me of the scenario of attacking a small army of ghosts in Heros of Might and Magic with a large host of peasants. On Paper the peasants should wipe the floor with the ghosts, but the ghosts have this annoying ability (Much like the white walkers), that every time they kill an opponent they raise them as a new ghost.

So if you lead 10,000 soldiers with Sharpened Obsidian spears / arrows, you better be damn sure they kill every last one of the white walkers. If not you'll be rushing to build a big wall to keep 10,000 Wights from marching south. Even if white walkers don't line up for a big battle, you could imagine a big blizzard causing a heavy death toll on this army.

I don't think it's ever explicitly stated in the books if only the white walkers raise wights, or wights raise other wights, but the wildlings do insist on burning all bodies, even if they're killed by Crows.

As to whether it'd be "easier" than to build a wall that massive. If I remember right, the original wall wasn't as massive as it is during the current events. I think it was Lord Mormont that stated the nights watch used to use blocks of frozen lake water to raise the wall higher each year / season.

  • I don't see how this is an answer to "Why did they build the Wall in the first place?" Commented Jul 7, 2014 at 16:39
  • The way I understood it the question wasn't "Why did they build the wall in the first place" but "Why did they build then wall when X is easier". X was spoiler material so it couldn't go in the header. "The whole question is just a massive spoiler" suggests chx wasn't interested in a long winded explanation of strategic advantages of high walls. Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 8:51

If the Children of the forest created the first White Walker a.k.a The Night King (The 13th Lord Commander of the Nights Watch). Was the original mission for the Nights Watch one of extermination of the Children of the forest? And was the Wall therefore to keep out the Children not Wildings who as stated by Jon Snow were just on the wrong side of the wall!

  • 2
    Is this an answer? Or a question? It's a bit hard to tell now could you provide your reasoning, why you think the Wall was built to ward off Children of the Forest? Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 10:53
  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! If you have another question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 10:57
  • A little of both I guess. I can understand the concept of building a wall as a barrier, base of operation. The Children of the Forest look like a tricky foe. Add Giants and whatever Snarks are and you can picture it getting slowly larger. Maybe long winters produce deep snow drifts to increase the deman for an ever increasing height. My pondering is in response to the common theory that it was to keep out White Walkers. We know however these are a product of an arms race to combat the Nights Watch/First Men's assault on the Children.
    – Alex
    Commented Jun 4, 2017 at 11:02

The wall was built by the first men. The white walkers drove them south to settle the land of westros. The wall was built to keep those dangers from engulfing the whole continent.

  • OP says that there is an alternative to the Wall. The white walkers can be defeated. How does this answer the question? Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 7:35

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