Winterfell

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Winterfell
Castle, Regional Capital
Lino Drieghe Winterfell.JPG
Artwork by Lino Drieghe. © FFG
Location Westeros, North
Government House Stark , Feudal Lord.
Religion Old gods
Founded Age of Heroes
Notable places crypt of Winterfell, Great Keep, First Keep, winter town
The North and the location of Winterfell
The North and the location of Winterfell
Winterfell
The North and the location of Winterfell
Winterfell by Feliche©

Winterfell is the ancestral castle and seat of power of House Stark and is considered to be the capital of the North. It is located in the center of the northern province of the Seven Kingdoms, on the kingsroad that runs from Storm's End to the Wall. It is situated at the eastern edge of the wolfswood, north of the western branch of the White Knife and Castle Cerwyn. Winterfell is south of the northern mountains and southwest of Long Lake,[1] one hundred leagues (three hundred miles) southeast of Deepwood Motte.[2]

Contents

Household

Vayon Poole is the castle's steward, while Maester Luwin advises Lord Eddard Stark. Ser Rodrik Cassel serves as Winterfell's master-at-arms and his nephew Jory Cassel is captain of the household guard. Septon Chayle maintains the castle's sept and Septa Mordane tutors the Stark children. Other servants include the master of horse Hullen, the kennelmaster Farlen, the blacksmith Mikken, and the cook Gage.[3]

Layout

Fan-made map of Winterfell prior to A Dance with Dragons. 1.North Gate 2.Broken Tower 3.Glass Garden 4.Crypts 5.First Keep 6.Godswood 7. Guards Hall 8.East Gate 9.Armory 10.Hunter's Gate 11.kennels 12.Guest House 13. Bridge between the Armory and the Great Keep 14.Great Keep 15.Maester's Turret 16.Kitchen 17.Courtyard 18.Bell Tower 19.Library Tower 20.Sept 21.Stables 22.Great Hall 23.Smithy 24.South Gate
See also: Images of Winterfell

Winterfell is a huge castle complex spanning several acres, consisting of two massive walls and a village located just outside called the "winter town".[4] Winterfell itself has been built around an ancient godswood and over natural hot springs. The water is piped through walls and chambers to heat them, making Winterfell more comfortable than other castles during the harsh northern winters.

Inside the walls, the complex is composed of dozens of courtyards and small open spaces. Weapons training and practice take place in those yards. The inner ward is a second, much older open space in the castle where archery practice takes place. It is located next to the broken tower. Inside Winterfell stands the Inner Castle, which contains the Great Keep and the Great Hall.

Inner Castle

Courtyard and Misc.

Cat visits Ned by the Heart Tree - by Thomas Denmark. © Fantasy Flight Games
Winterfell throne by Marc Simonetti ©
The Great Keep© Fantasy Flight Games

External Walls

Winterfell is a huge castle complex spanning several acres, defended by two massive granite walls with a wide moat between them. The outer wall is eighty feet high, while the inner is one hundred feet high, with a wide moat between them. There are guard turrets on the outer wall and more than thirty watch turrets on the crenelated inner walls.

The main gatehouse is made of two huge crenelated bulwarks which flank the arched gate and drawbridge that opens into the market square. There are three additional gates - the Hunter's Gate directly on the opposite side of the castle, the south gate, and the northern gate. There is a narrow tunnel inside of the inner wall stretching halfway around the castle, allowing travel from the south gate all the way to the northern gate without interruption.

Winter Town

The winter town, so-called because it lies mostly deserted during summer years, is where smallfolk gather in winter. It is located outside the walls of Winterfell. Its market square is filled with wooden stalls for merchants, while its streets are muddy and lined with rows of houses made from log and undressed stone. Less than one in five are occupied during the summer, but they fill up once winter arrives.[20] The kingsroad sits beyond the winter town, which would put it to the east of Winterfell.[21] There is an inn in the winter town, the Smoking Log.[22]

History

Winterfell was supposedly built by Brandon the Builder over eight thousand years ago, with the help of giants.[23] Maesters believe it was built in pieces over different eras, since the ancient Starks did not level the ground and plan it as a single structure.[24] For most of recorded history Winterfell was the seat of House Stark, the Kings in the North and later as Wardens of the North, after King Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons. During the wars between the Kings of Winter from House Stark and the Red Kings from House Bolton, Winterfell was burned by Kings Royce II and Royce IV of the Dreadfort prior to the Andal invasion of Westeros.[24]

According to free folk legend, Bael the Bard once entered Winterfell under the guise of a singer named Sygerrik. Bael supposedly disappeared with the daughter of Lord Brandon Stark after tricking the lord. The daughter eventually reappeared with an infant, a future Lord Stark, the story claiming that they had been hiding in the crypt of Winterfell.[16]

During the Dance of the Dragons, Prince Jacaerys Velaryon visited Winterfell and gained Cregan Stark for the cause of Rhaenyra Targaryen and the blacks.[25]

At the start of Robert's Rebellion, Lord Eddard Stark left the Eyrie and crossed the Mountains of the Moon and the Bite to return to the North, where he raised the northern banners.[26] His younger brother Benjen Stark remained in the castle for the war's duration as the Stark in Winterfell.[27]

Mance Rayder once accompanied Lord Commander Qorgyle in a visit from the Wall to Winterfell to see Lord Eddard.[28] The Cerwyns often visit Winterfell because Castle Cerwyn is only half a day away.[29][30] As the regional capital of the North, harvest feasts have been hosted in Winterfell for centuries.

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Lord Eddard Stark hosts King Robert Baratheon and the royal family at Winterfell after the death of Lord Jon Arryn. They visit the crypt so Robert can pay his respects to Lyanna Stark. Robb Stark remains in the castle when Eddard travels south to King's Landing to serve as the new Hand of the King. A fire is started in the Library Tower in order to distract the guards during an attempt on Bran Stark's life.[31]

When Robb hears that Eddard has been taken prisoner in King's Landing, he raises the northern bannerman and marches south to rescue his father. Bran remains as the Stark in Winterfell. The direwolf Lady is buried in the lichyard of the First Keep.[32] Catelyn Tully appoints Ser Rodrik Cassel the castellan of Winterfell.[33]

A Clash of Kings

Bran, the Stark in Winterfell in Robb's absence, hosts numerous northern lords for the harvest feast.[34] Songs performed during the festival include "Iron Lances", "The Burning of the Ships", and "The Bear and the Maiden Fair".

During the War of the Five Kings, Winterfell is captured in a surprise attack by the ironmen led by Theon Greyjoy.[35] He rules the castle for several weeks, but he lacks the manpower to hold it indefinitely against the Stark bannermen. Tyrion Lannister, hearing of Theon's taking of Winterfell, thinks to himself:

He had only the vaguest memory of Theon Greyjoy from his time with the Starks. A callow youth, always smiling, skilled with a bow; it was hard to imagine him as Lord of Winterfell. The Lord of Winterfell would always be a Stark. He remembered their godswood; the tall sentinels armored in their grey-green needles, the great oaks, the hawthorn and ash and soldier pines, and at the center the heart tree standing like some pale giant frozen in time. He could almost smell the place, earthy and brooding, the smell of centuries, and he remembered how dark the wood had been even by day. That wood was Winterfell. It was the north. I never felt so out of place as I did when I walked there, so much an unwelcome intruder. He wondered if the Greyjoys would feel it too. The castle might well be theirs, but never that godswood. Not in a year, or ten, or fifty.[34]

Ser Rodrik Cassel assembles near two thousand northmen to retake Winterfell from Theon. Ramsay Snow, the castellan of the Dreadfort, leads the Bolton soldiers in betraying their fellow northmen, however, and Rodrik's army is destroyed in a battle outside Winterfell's gates. Ramsay then double-crosses Theon, takes him prisoner, and has the Dreadfort men sack and burn Winterfell.[36] The ceiling of the Great Hall and one whole side of the First Keep collapse during the sack of Winterfell. A steaming lake forms at the bottom of the Library Tower, while the Maester's Turret and the bridge connecting the Bell Tower to the rookery are destroyed.[18] Bran and Rickon Stark, undetected in the crypts, make their escape from Winterfell in the aftermath.

A Storm of Swords

Due to the alleged deaths of Bran and Rickon Stark, Sansa Stark is now considered to be the heir to Winterfell. For this title Lady Olenna Tyrell plots to have Sansa married to the heir of Highgarden, Willas Tyrell. When Tywin Lannister is informed of this he has his son, Tyrion marry her instead, to both Sansa and Tyrion's reluctance.

Sansa Stark making a snow-castle of Winterfell at the Eyrie - by Michael Komarck.©

After King Robb Stark marries Jeyne Westerling, he tells his mother, Catelyn Tully, that he plans to legitimize his brother, Jon Snow, and name him heir of Winterfell and King in the North should he and Jeyne not have a child. Due to Sansa's marriage to Tyrion Lannister, Robb fears that Sansa will give Tyrion a son and thus control of Winterfell which Robb wants to prevent. Catelyn pleads that Robb consider naming his other sister, Arya Stark, as heir, but Robb insists that no one has seen Arya since his father Eddard Stark's death and that his younger sister is likely also dead. Robb signs the decree naming Jon his heir,[37] but the whereabouts of the will are unknown after Robb's death in the Red Wedding.

As Sansa Stark hides out in the Eyrie after the murder of Joffrey Baratheon, she reminisces fondly about Winterfell and makes a castle of snow in its likeness with the aid of Petyr Baelish.[6]

At the Wall, in exchange for Jon Snow recognizing Stannis Baratheon as king, Stannis offers to legitimize him, which would make him Lord Jon Stark of Winterfell. However, Jon refuses Stannis and he instead becomes the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch.

A Feast for Crows

Asha Greyjoy informs Lord Rodrik Harlaw that when she and her ironborn searched Winterfell for Theon they found only scattered bodies scavenged by wolves.[38]

A Dance with Dragons

King Stannis Baratheon reminds Jon Snow that he had hoped to bestow Winterfell on him, and that his offer was thrown in his face. Jon replies that by right Winterfell should go to his sister, Sansa Stark. Stannis asks Jon if he is eager to see the Imp, Tyrion Lannister, perched on Eddard Stark's seat. He promises Jon that as long as he, Stannis, is alive that will not happen.

Lord Roose Bolton, the new Warden of the North, moves the wedding of his legitimized son, Ramsay Bolton, to "Arya Stark", who is actually Jeyne Poole, from Barrowton to Winterfell.[39] When the Boltons arrive at Winterfell, Roose finds the ruined castle a refuge of more then two dozen squatters. When he tells them he will be merciful if they serve well, they are used for a labour force in rebuilding Winterfell. They rebuild burned gates and raise a new roof over the Great Hall. After the work is completed Roose has them all hanged; true to his word he is merciful and does not flay a one.[40]

Ramsay marries "Arya" in the godswood and becomes Lord of Winterfell, with Theon Greyjoy giving Jeyne away. Lord Wyman Manderly furnishes the wedding feast and asks the singer Abel to sing of the Rat Cook.[40]

During a winter storm that hits Winterfell, squires build snowmen on the battlements. A dozen snowy lords are built to command them, including depictions of Lord Wyman Manderly, Lord Harwood Stout, Lady Barbrey Dustin, and Whoresbane Umber on the battlements. Theon and Barbrey discover that swords are missing from the crypts.[41] Tensions heighten during the blizzard as several Freys and northerners are found dead.[42] Theon and "Arya" flee the castle after Freys fight with Manderly men.[43]

The Winds of Winter

After learning that Stannis Baratheon's army is three days march from Winterfell, Roose sends out the Freys and Manderlys, as well as Ramsay and his men, but keeps much of his own strength behind in Winterfell. According to Theon, Roose is keeping his own men back as a reserve, as he once did in the Riverlands, to weaken potential rivals.[44]

Quotes

Bran could perch for hours among the shapeless, rain-worn gargoyles that brooded over the First Keep, watching it all: the men drilling with wood and steel in the yard, the cooks tending their vegetables in the glass garden, restless dogs running back and forth in the kennels, the silence of the godswood, the girls gossiping beside the washing well. It made him feel like he was lord of the castle, in a way even Robb would never know. It taught him Winterfell's secrets too. The builders had not even leveled the earth; there were hills and valleys behind the walls of Winterfell. There was a covered bridge that went from the fourth floor of the bell tower across to the second floor of the rookery. Bran knew about that. And he knew you could get inside the inner wall by the south gate, climb three floors and run all the way around Winterfell through a narrow tunnel in the stone, and then come out on ground level at the north gate, with a hundred feet of wall looming over you. Even Maester Luwin didn't know that, Bran was convinced.[13]
Bran Stark's thoughts


He remembered Winterfell as he had last seen it. Not as grotesquely huge as Harrenhal, nor as solid and impregnable to look at as Storm's End, yet there had been a great strength in those stones, a sense that within those walls a man might feel safe. The news of the castle’s fall had come as a wrenching shock.[45]
Tyrion Lannister's thoughts


The Lord of Winterfell would always be a Stark.[45]
Tyrion Lannister's thoughts


“The Prince of Winterfell.” Of Winterfell burned and tumbled, its people scattered and slain. The glass gardens were smashed, and hot water gushed from the cracked walls to steam beneath the sun. How can you be the prince of someplace you might never see again?[46]
Bran Stark's thoughts


The weirwood was the heart of Winterfell, Lord Eddard always said ... but to save the castle Jon would have to tear that heart up by its ancient roots, and feed it to the red woman's hungry fire god. I have no right. Winterfell belongs to the old gods.[47]
Jon Snow's thoughts


Drifting snowflakes brushed her face as light as lover’s kisses, and melted on her cheeks. At the center of the garden, beside the statue of the weeping woman that lay broken and half-buried on the ground, she turned her face up to the sky and closed her eyes. She could feel the snow on her lashes, taste it on her lips. It was the taste of Winterfell. The taste of innocence. The taste of dreams.[6]

Sansa Stark's thoughts, at the Eyrie


Petyr: May I come into your castle, my lady?

Sansa: Don’t break it. Be ...
Petyr: ... gentle? Winterfell has withstood fiercer enemies than me. It is Winterfell, is it not?
Sansa: Yes.
Petyr: I used to dream of it, in those years after Cat went north with Eddard Stark. In my dreams it was ever a dark place, and cold.
Sansa: No. It was always warm, even when it snowed. Water from the hot springs is piped through the walls to warm them, and inside the glass gardens it was always like the hottest day of summer. [6]

Sansa Stark makes a snow castle of Winterfell with Petyr Baelish


Winterfell was full of ghosts for Theon Greyjoy.[40]
Theon Greyjoy's thoughts


It was my home, though. Not a true home, but the best I ever knew.[42]
Theon Greyjoy's thoughts

Chapters that take place in Winterfell

References and Notes

  1. The Lands of Ice and Fire.
  2. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 42, The King's Prize (Asha II).
  3. A Game of Thrones, Appendix.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 50, Theon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 6, Catelyn.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa.
  7. 7.0 7.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 7, Arya.
  8. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 5, Jon.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 66, Bran.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 4, Bran.
  12. A World of Ice and Fire.
  13. 13.0 13.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 8, Bran.
  14. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 35, Bran.
  15. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 63, Catelyn.
  16. 16.0 16.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 51, Jon.
  17. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 4, Eddard.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran.
  19. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 28, Bran.
  20. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 37, Bran.
  21. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion.
  22. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, Bran.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 41, Jon.
  24. 24.0 24.1 The World of Ice and Fire.
  25. The Princess and the Queen.
  26. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos.
  27. So Spake Martin: ConQuest (Kansas City, MO; May 27-29), May 27, 2005.
  28. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 7, Jon.
  29. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran.
  30. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 14, Catelyn.
  32. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran.
  33. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 55, Catelyn.
  34. 34.0 34.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 21, Bran.
  35. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 46, Bran.
  36. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 66, Theon.
  37. "Robb Stark" entry in A World of Ice and Fire
  38. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 11, The Kraken's Daughter.
  39. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek.
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell (Reek IV).
  41. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 41, The Turncloak (Reek V).
  42. 42.0 42.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell (Reek VI).
  43. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 51, Theon I.
  44. Theon I (The Winds of Winter)
  45. 45.0 45.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 54, Tyrion.
  46. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 9, Bran.
  47. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 79, Jon.


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