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Old Dec 23 2011, 04:24 PM   #1
Pat69La
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Default The Poplulation of Main Holds


I don't recall if this has come up before, but here goes:
In Anne's novels, I get the impression that the Main Holds are somewhat like Mideval towns with the Castle on the hill and the town below. just how big are the Main Holds as far as poplulation is concerened?
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Old Dec 24 2011, 01:59 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

The earliest holds were built by finding large cave-systems and improving them. Fort is depicted as a huge cliff-face with many small windows cut through to the outside (see Nerilka's Story). This would have been the standard form during the first Pass. The rock removed while squaring off the cave-walls and making the ceilings high enough for people to stand upright would be used to build interior walls or dragged outside to build free-standing units. The cave-holds would also have inner rooms with no windows; many people felt safer there.

During the Intervals and later Passes there would be more free-standing buildings, always built of stone, but more often than not they would be backed up against a cliff or hillside to save the labour of bringing in quarried stones. Caves could be used for storage or beast-holds, and sometimes they might contain thermal pools, useful for bathing or laundry purposes. So the picture would be: communal living in cliffs, caves or buildings located on barren land (sand or rock), with agriculture immediately adjacent.

As far as population goes, I think a figure of 10,000 was mentioned for Fort Hold itself at some point (they lost 4000 in the first major plague, when all the settlers were crowded in there). Red Hanrahan took 141 people along to start Ruatha Hold. More isolated holds would need enough farmers, support staff, beastholders and essential crafters to support the inhabitants and tithe to their Weyr. Numbers would fluctuate, increasing after good harvest years and dropping in plague times. Cot-holds were for single families, and they tended to have many children (Debera was one out of a dozen siblings) to work their piece of land and claim more as the oldest children grew up and claimed their own allotment.
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Old Feb 7 2012, 10:14 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Thanks, Eriflor, for clearing that up for me.
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Old Feb 7 2012, 02:51 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

I always wondered about ventilation. Especially in areas with thermal pools. Some of the plans we've seen show caves going quite a way into the system.
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Old Feb 8 2012, 10:26 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

During the Threadfall scene in DragonSinger, there's a mention, after they closed the metal Thread shutters, of 'the sudden throb as the great ventilating fans of the Hall were set into motion for the duration of Threadfall'.

The motive power isn't mentioned --- maybe the spit-turning dogs had a second job. Or they may have used a big tread-wheel as a punishment chore for misbehaving apprentices and holders.

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Old Feb 8 2012, 11:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Eriflor! You're bringing up little things I've wondered about myself

I've come to the conclusion that these books are fantasy and we just have to accept them as written. I'm sure the Holds don't have to be closed up so tight during Fall - or do the dragons not protect them as vigorously because there's no greenery around anyway?? And fans powerful enough to keep air circulated would not have have worked by the simple turning of a spindle.
What a clean up would have been necessary after the all-clear was sounded!
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Old Feb 9 2012, 11:10 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

I think it's mentioned in either Dragonsong or Dragonsinger that the Holds are closed up so securely during Threadfall for the psychological health of the residents, not for their physical protection - there is more immediate risk from panic by the residents than from possible errant Threads making it through.
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Old Feb 9 2012, 11:50 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Not to mention, it might get rather warm and stuffy by the end of a 6-hour Fall.

I don't know how the fans would work, but that paragraph indicates they had something of the sort.
For an example of a tread-wheel in action, see the first scene of the Oliver Twist musical (Lionel Bart), just before the orphans start singing. At least I think that's the version where I saw it. It might have been an earlier movie.
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Old Feb 9 2012, 03:08 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

I've finally been doing what I should have done in the first place, and re-read DLG. I found a section about the development of the holds/weyrs describing how they arranged the inner parts of their cave systems to include drainage and ventilation and what the fire heights were for. No mention of fans or pumps though. Yet.

Y'know, I don't think I have EVER seen any references in the books about fires being lit in the fire heights when thread was due?? That would have been quite a sight.
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Old Feb 10 2012, 05:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

I think I remember a reference to ash blowing around a set of fire heights.

If you shape a vent-shaft correctly it works through air pressure (like the way a well built chimney draws).

Having said that: I have a reference from 1843 that the the French Parliement building had been ventilated by fans in its roof worked by donkeys down in a courtyard.
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Old Feb 10 2012, 08:40 PM   #11
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Something from the Chronicles of Pern: Second Fall come to my mind, in which, steam was used to heat the weyr, I don't quite recall some on the order of a weighted bucket system, geothermal heater, Dragonsdawn, water was found in one tunnel, add pumps, and such core to the top of the cliff, some about switch to turn it off, hypocaust heating just some stuff that comes to my mind
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Old Feb 11 2012, 03:14 PM   #12
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Indoor thermal pools.

They are warm, they steam. Condensation will occur. Still, maybe the ancients took this into account during development. And maybe a large team of drudges mopped and aired daily.

In NZ, our thermal area smells rather too. Of sulphur. And anything silver tarnishes.
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Old Feb 11 2012, 08:25 PM   #13
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Default Re: The Poplulation of Main Holds

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eriflor View Post
Not to mention, it might get rather warm and stuffy by the end of a 6-hour Fall.
They wouldn't need to be shut for that long, a six-hour fall progresses over a wide swath of land. Any one location needs to be shut for a shorter duration -- but long enough you couldn't catch up to the Fall's edge on foot or perhaps even on horse.

I would guess that two hours would be more than long enough, but I wonder if there are any specific references, perhaps in Dragonsinger?
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