The Princes That Were Promised’s featured image for the month of September is fitting and royally appropriate.
‘Eastwatch by The Sea‘ by Irish artist ElegantWaster depicts the easternmost castle along The Wall, jutting out upon The Bay of Seals. This depiction is more akin to the design of Eastwatch in HBO’s Game of Thrones, though the description of the castle as it appears in GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire is thriving in ElegantWaster’s vision.
Nineteen castles are positioned along The Wall, During The Age of Heroes, The Night’s Watch, the order charged with the defense of The Wall and the enemies beyond it, garrisoned each of the nineteen castles and each castle was operated much like the seat of a noble family of Westeros.
Time and a corrosion of honor in serving The Night’s Watch have led to the entirety of The Watch numbering less than 1,000 Black Brothers as A Song of Ice and Fire begins. Because of the substantial difference in men between The Age of Heroes (which can never be truly known) and ASoIaF, the nineteen fully garrisoned castles have been reduced to three.
Castle Black, the largest and most centrally located keep, maintains the highest number of Watchmen, as well as the Order’s leadership: The Lord Commander of The Night’s Watch, The Lord Steward, The First Ranger, and The First Builder. In addition to the centralized leadership of The Watch, Castle Black is home for 600 of the less than 1,000 remaining Black Brothers.
The Shadow Tower is the Westernmost castle along The Wall. The Shadow Tower has its own commander that answers to the leadership at Castle Black but operates the Tower as he sees fit. The Shadow Tower is nestled against the mountains located beyond The Wall as well as the Gorge, a popular route into Westeros for Wilding people and Free Folk living beyond The Wall. The Shadow Tower is garrisoned by 200 Black Brothers.
The final castle still garrisoned is Eastwatch by The Sea. Less than 200 men are stationed at Eastwatch. Eastwatch keeps the three vessels that make up The Night’s Watch navy- Blackbird, Talon, and Storm Crow. Wildings and Free Folk from beyond The Wall often travel to Eastwatch to trade with The Watch and the ships that come to dock there, which as far as the Free Folk are concerned, come from another world.
In ASoIaF, Cotter Pyke, an Ironborn bastard, commands at Eastwatch. The operation of Eastwatch as per The Night’s Watch was not explored in Game of Thrones. Eastwatch was not even seen until this past season and only after Jon Snow, The King in The North, had commanded Tormund Giantsbane, the de facto leader of The Wildings, to take up the leadership there… which he did up until The Night King, The Others (White Walkers), and The Army of The Dead rolled up with a zombie Dragon and took The Wall down to cross over into Westeros.