The Perimeter is an Ancelstierran military controlled zone half a mile parallel to the Wall. Strictly prohibited to the Ancelstierran public, it stretches from coast to coast and is heavily fortified against Dead and Free Magic incursions from the Old Kingdom. However, due to the modern nature of the Perimeter’s defences, it is less than effective against magical attacks. Northerly winds also regularly disable technology. The Perimeter is therefore more successful at keeping Ancelstierrans away from the Wall than it is at preventing things coming in.
The Perimeter warning sign:
NORTHERN ARMY GROUP
Unauthorised egress from the Perimeter Zone is strictly
Anyone attempting to cross the Perimeter Zone will
be shot without warning.
Authorised travellers must report to the Perimeter Command HQ.
NO WARNING WILL BE MADE
Roads into the Perimeter are blocked by Army checkpoints. The southernmost of these represent the “relatively friendly face of the Army”. They turn back unauthorised travellers and tourists. Progressing further into the Perimeter, the checkpoints become more fortified, as seen by Nick in The Creature in the Case. The first checkpoint he passes is simply a red-striped barrier manned by four soldiers. Next up though, are “two heavy chain-link-and-timber gates”, built between two concrete pillboxes punctuating the first of the Perimeter’s defensive lines – “a triple depth of concertina wire five coils high.” Eventually, communications trenches are reached, and in front of them, the forward trenches facing the Wall. Between these trenches and the Wall is a no-man’s land of about ninety metres (one hundred yards), covered with coils of concertina wire. Amongst the wire are wind flutes of the Abhorsen, which play a song in Death to keep the Dead down.
Being designed in southern Ancelstierre, the Perimeter is built for modern warfare. This is because people in the south don’t believe in magic, so they “refused to admit” that this border was different from any other.
Crossing Point Edit
The Crossing Point is the only official point of entry into the Old Kingdom or Ancelstierre. It is essentially a collection of wooden buildings, including Perimeter Command HQ, a bitumen parade ground and lines of trenches that face the Wall. An archway in the Wall is the actual means by which travellers can cross into the Old Kingdom. In Sabriel, “rusting hinges” and “sharp shards of oak thrust in the ground” imply that there was once a gate in this archway.
Colonel Horyse reveals that forty years before the events of Sabriel, the Crossing Point was once moved every ten years to the next gate in the Wall. This was done to spread out the number of deaths at each gate, so less Dead would rise. However, the “idiots down South” fixed the Crossing Point in one place, just to save on money. Attacks by the Dead increased. Finally, an Army patrol into the Old Kingdom met the Abhorsen Terciel. He crafted wind flutes to place in the Perimeter in exchange for Ancelstierran citizenship for himself and his daughter, Sabriel. The flutes prevented the Dead from rising again.
Crossing into the Old Kingdom requires an Ancelstierran passport, an Old Kingdom visa and a “hand-bound document” issued by Perimeter Command. Both the visa and document are difficult to obtain. Nick, on the other hand, is able to get them quite easily due to his friendship with Sam and his uncle being the Chief Minister of Ancelstierre.
There are many soldiers stationed at the Perimeter, though most are concentrated at the Crossing Point. The majority of them are regular Army and therefore don’t have Charter Marks. Only a few, the members of the specialised Northern Perimeter Reconnaissance Unit, are Charter Mages and consequently are better able to deal with magical incursions from across the Wall.
The Ancelstierran Navy also operates two lighthouses (the Western and Eastern Lights) on each end of the Perimeter, at the coasts.
Unlike all other Army units, Perimeter infantry wear mail coats over their khaki battle dresses and have nasal and neck bars on their helmets. They also have sword-bayonets and use bows and arrows in addition to their guns. This is because fighting creatures from the Old Kingdom does not require protection from conventional weaponry, so regular armour would likely be useless. Modern weapons also malfunction when winds blow from across the Wall, hence the medieval weapons.
Telephones seem to be the preferred method of communicating across the Perimeter. This can be expected, as the zone’s entire length spans over 360 miles across Ancelstierre. A major problem with telephones though is that electricity fails when winds blow in from the Old Kingdom.
Signalling danger is achieved by firing red flares. The lighthouse in Abhorsen used them as a distress signal when Hedge crossed the Wall, and they were also fired when the Hrule in The Creature in the Case broke through the Perimeter. It is possible that there are also flares of other colours, but none have so far been seen in the books.