- "As the battle raged around us, I faced off with Rhaegar - the stag and the dragon right there in the ford of the river. I fought with the fury of ten men, raining blow after blow upon that vile prince before burying my war hammer in his chest. I hit him so hard, the rubies on his armor broke free, flinging them into the stream. They call it the Ruby Ford now."
- ―Robert Baratheon
Ruby Ford is a major crossing of the River Trident, located just east of the point where the Green, Blue, and Red Forks of the Trident converge into a single river, and the waters are thus slow enough to cross.
Armies moving north or south of the Trident river system (which separates both the North and the Vale of Arryn from the rest of Westeros) are basically faced with two choices for their route. The first choice is to travel along the lighter headwaters of the three forks of the Trident, though this does necessitate crossing the Green Fork at the Twins castle ruled by House Frey. The other option is to march east and use the Ruby Ford. The Kingsroad itself, extending between King's Landing and Winterfell, crosses the Trident at the Ruby Ford. East of the Ruby Ford the combined size of the single river, now fed by all three tributaries, makes it too wide and deep to cross. This makes the Ruby Ford of vital strategic importance.
The Ruby Ford gained its name in the climactic Battle of the Trident during Robert's Rebellion, when Robert Baratheon killed Prince Rhaegar Targaryen with his warhammer, and the death-blow struck Rhaegar so forcefully that the many rubies that ornamented his breastplate were shattered off and were scattered in the river.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, it is unknown what specific name, if any, the ford had in the thousands of years that it was used before the Battle of the Trident.
One of the reasons Arya Stark wandered away from camp in the part of the books corresponding to "The Kingsroad", apart from wanting to practice swordfighting with Mycah, is because she wanted to search along the banks of the Ruby Ford for the rubies for which it is named. Sansa Stark insisted to her sister that in the many years since Rhaegar's death, all of the rubies have already been found.
In the third novel, after treacherously sending 3,000 soldiers to a suicide mission at Duskendale, Roose Bolton retreats from Harrenhal with about 6,000 soldiers to the Twins, deliberately marching too slowly; while crossing the Trident River at the Ruby Ford, his rearguard is caught out of position on the southern side of the river and destroyed by Ser Gregor Clegane. The double fiasco costs Robb Stark about one third of his infantry (destroyed at Duskendale) and about 2,000 soldiers (killed at the Rudy Ford), and seriously weakens his position.
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