I always thought Ned and Howland were the only survivors at the events at the Tower of Joy.

But at my current rereading I found something which might indicate there was someone else:
From the first Eddard chapter in A Game of Thrones:

Ned remembered the way she [Lyanna] had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black. After that he remembered nothing. They had found him still holding her body, silent with grief.

Who does They refer to if only Howland was there?

  • 1
    Jon Snow may have survived it :) Otherwise, maybe other people came along and found them?
    – user8719
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:01
  • 1
    I don't think that ordinary men-at-arms or peasants would count as "survivors" - only knights matter. But for purposes of finding Ned afterwards, "they" might be mentioned.
    – gowenfawr
    Mar 16, 2015 at 23:34
  • 4
    Lyanna died in child-birth, it is widely believed that the 3 Kingsguard - Arthur Dayne, Gerold Hightower and Oswell Whent - weren't the only attendants there. There may have been cooks, cleaners, a midwife / wet-nurse may have been present. In fact, Wylla is a likely candidate.
    – Möoz
    Mar 17, 2015 at 0:06
  • 2
    Officially though With Ned's execution in King's Landing, Lord Reed is now the only survivor of the skirmish, and the only remaining witness of Eddard's promise to Lyanna.
    – Möoz
    Mar 17, 2015 at 1:49
  • @Mooz: Thanks for the link. What makes me wonder is, if Jon is indeed Lyannas son and there were other people. How could Eddard expect them to keep the secret about Jon real parentage.
    – raznagul
    Mar 17, 2015 at 9:39

3 Answers 3


The "they" probably refers to Eddard's men. We don't have anywhere near a full accounting of what happened, but the fact that Eddard arrived with only a few men instead of a whole army tells us that the assault on the Tower of Joy was an impromptu one. Perhaps Eddard got wind of Lyanna's whereabouts and set off immediately with whatever friends he had at hand, ordering a more well armed accompaniment to follow them later? A noble household is rarely without servants, so perhaps it was the servants who found them? Either way, we know from Eddard himself that all of those who clashed at the Tower of Joy, save for Eddard and Howland, perished that day.

  • Unfortunately this is the best answer I can expect, without the release of an other book.
    – raznagul
    Mar 23, 2015 at 9:19
  • 3
    I think the phrase "they found him still holding her body" very strongly implies that "they" arrived well after the skirmish itself was over, and found only Ned and Howland alive.
    – KutuluMike
    May 8, 2015 at 0:48

There was likely more than just Ned, Howland and Jon Snow.

There are clues and little tid-bits dropped here and there by George R. R. Martin, namely this recent interview:

[Interviewer] when Ned Stark and Howland Reed returned North from Dorne after the events at the Tower of Joy, etc. were they completely alone during that journey, or were they accompanied by some household guards, etc. for security?
[GRRM] You'll likely learn more about Ned's homecoming in future books. It's a long way from Dorne to Winterfell, a journey of months. More than that I'd rather not reveal just now.

So hang-tight, you will learn more.

The other deductions which we can do is the chronological events and likelyhoods, as follows:

1. Rhaegar and Lyanna disappear

2. Lyanna gets knocked-up

  • At least nine months before the end of the War
  • An unknown child is born, causing Lyanna to pass shortly after as a result of the child birth
  • Rumoured to have been Jon Snow
  • The real question is, how did she give birth with only 3 members of a Kingsguard (who were males and likely not versed in child-birth) present to help her?
    • There's no way that The George would have relied on the timely arrival of Ned to help her

3. Showdown at the Tower of Joy

  • Seven VS three skirmish known as the Showdown at the Tower of Joy occurs
  • Combatants- Stark:
    • Lord Ned Stark
    • Lord Willem Dustin - perished
    • Ser Mark Ryswell - perished
    • Howland Reed (now Lord Howland Reed)
    • Ethan Glover - perished
    • Martyn Cassel - perished
    • Theo Wull - perished
  • Combatants - Targaryen:
    • Lord Commander Gerold Hightower - perished
    • Ser Oswell Whent - perished
    • Ser Arthur "Sword of the Morning" Dayne - perished

4. Tower of Joy demolished

  • This is where it gets strange
    • An entire tower is demolished by two men?[1]
  • Ned and Howland remove stones from the tower and create 8 cairns for the dead combatants

5. The return home

  • Ned and Howland make a small pit-stop at Starfall to return Dawn
  • Lady Ashara Dayne (who was betrothed to Ned) throws herself from a tower, and commits suicide
  • They stop over at King's Landing for some paper-work
  • They continue on and bring Lyanna's bones, new baby (Jon Snow?) and all of their gear and supply home with them (excluding the bodies of the dead combatants)
  • Somewhere along the journey, they pick up Wylla
    • This would have to have been very early in the journey, or else Wylla was already with Lyanna in the Tower of Joy - there's no way that a newborn baby could have survived for so long without some sort of milk

As you can see, the details are hazy at best, and the only real details we have of the event is what Ned recollects in his "fever dream", which incidentally, GRRM says may not really be that accurate:

[Interviewer] what are the Kingsguards doing fighting Eddard? Eddard would never hurt Lyanna, nor her child. The little one would be safe with Eddard as well, him being a close relative. So I ask you, was there someone else with Lyanna and Jon?
[GRRM] You'll need to wait for future books to find out more about the Tower of Joy and what happened there, I fear.
I might mention, though, that Ned's account, which you refer to, was in the context of a dream... and a fever dream at that. Our dreams are not always literal.


My conclusion is that the most likely outcome was that Ned and co arrive at the ToJ, get into a punch-up and end up with only Ned, Howland and Lyanna (and perhaps a hand-maid or two).

Then, an unknown number of days or weeks pass and Lyanna gives birth. At this point, it's entirely possible that people have now joined this location. Another unknown amount of time passes (or doesn't) and Lyanna passes away.

Then, another unknown amount of time passes and Ned is found by "them" clutching her dead body. He may have spent a week or two mourning her death, cleaning up her body etc.

You see, now this fits both the canon of only Ned and Howland survived the skirmish, as well as "they" finding Ned clutching Lyanna's body.


I think that the only men on the Tower were those who fought. It's unlikely that there were any other knight or men at arms apart from the three Kinsguards and Ned's party, otherwise they surely would had joined the combat. But, as someone said, it's likely that there were some servants, or a wet-nurse (Wylla).

Anyway, although I think that there were no more witness apart from howland and possibly Wylla, some people should have known. The Manwoodies and the Carons are settled not far from the tower (the exact location was disclosed in ADWD's maps). The paths at the Red Mountains of Dorne are surely well surveiled, because of the frecuent skirmishes between dornish and marcher lords. It's unlikely that Rhaegar and Lyanna and their likely small party of servants and kingsguards made it alone and unseen to the Tower of Joy.

Besides, we learn in TWOIAF that when Rhaegar lastly departed from KL, and before dissapearing with Lyanna, had med a party of closest friends, among them was Ser Richard Lonmouth, Rhaegar's squire. Another one that knows something. Are you familiar with the theory of Lem Lemoncloak being Richard Lonmouth? Check it.


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