Fall of Moat Cailin

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Fall of Moat Cailin
Conflict War of the Five Kings
Date 299 AC
Place Moat Cailin, the North
Result Greyjoy victory
House Stark.svg Kingdom of the North and the Trident/ House Stark:

The north

House Greyjoy.svg Kingdom of the Isles and the North/ House Greyjoy
Unknown House Greyjoy.svg Victarion Greyjoy
A small force, mostly archers[1]
(potentially 200 archers)[2]
Most of the Iron Fleet
Unknown Unknown

The fall of Moat Cailin[3] or seizure of Moat Cailin[4] is a pivotal battle during the War of the Five Kings. Planned in secret by Balon Greyjoy, the battle, along with the capture of Winterfell, changes the tactical ambitions of the King in the North, Robb Stark, and directly affects the outcome of the war.


In King's Landing, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell and Hand of the King, tasks his wife Catelyn with having Ser Helman Tallhart and Galbart Glover raise a hundred bowmen each to garrison Moat Cailin.[2] Catelyn sends a raven from the Eyrie to their son Robb at Winterfell.[5] Eddard is imprisoned after the death of King Robert I Baratheon, so Robb marches south with a host to rescue his father. Once at Moat Cailin, Robb decides to leave a small force of mostly archers at the ruined castle.[1] After Eddard is executed in King's Landing, Robb is declared King in the North at Riverrun.[6]

King Robb, seeking allies in what becomes the War of the Five Kings, sends Theon Greyjoy as an envoy to his father to offer an alliance between the north and the Iron Islands. Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Islands, rejects Robb's offer, however, and instead intends to strike at the north, which is weakly defended with the northern forces fighting in the riverlands and the westerlands. Balon sends Theon, his brother Aeron Damphair, and Dagmer Cleftjaw to harry the Stony Shore in hopes that the remaining northern lords will march from their castles. Balon sends his daughter Asha to seize Deepwood Motte and his brother Victarion with the majority of the Iron Fleet to capture Moat Cailin and prevent the northern lords in the south from returning to their seats.[7]


Victarion and the Iron Fleet sail up the Saltspear and the Fever River to its headwaters, from which Moat Cailin is less than twenty miles away.[7] The Victarion-led ironborn seize the ruined fortifications,[8] which are held by the small northern force.[1] Other captains with Victarion include Red Ralf Stonehouse, Ralf Kenning, and Ralf the Limper.[9]


After harrying the Stony Shore, Theon changes Balon's plan and captures Winterfell.[10][4] Balon styles himself King of the Isles and the North.[11]

The news of the seizures of Winterfell and Moat Cailin changes Robb's plans and forces him to return to the north.[12] Robb is killed at the Red Wedding, however.[13]

Moat Cailin is eventually besieged and taken by a Bolton-led northern army after Victarion brings most of his men back to the Iron Islands for the kingsmoot.[9][14]


Once we hold Moat Cailin, the pup will not be able to win back to the north ... and if he is fool enough to try, his enemies will seal the south end of the causeway behind him, and Robb the boy will find himself caught like a rat in a bottle.[7]

Moat Cailin is the key. Lord Balon knew that, which is why he sent his brother Victarion there with the hard heart of the Greyjoy strength.[12]

Robb Stark to his bannermen