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Game of Thrones Wiki
This article is about the founder of House Stark. For other uses, see: Brandon Stark

"One hero of this fabled age was Bran the Builder. Bran raised the Wall and built the stronghold of Winterfell, establishing House Stark and reigning as the first King in the North."
Bran Stark[src]

King Brandon Stark, also known as Bran the Builder or Brandon the Builder, was a legendary member of the First Men from the Age of Heroes. He went on to found House Stark and reign as the first King in the North and the first Lord of Winterfell.



Bran the Builder, founder of House Stark.

Bran the Builder was a legendary member of the First Men from the Age of Heroes, the founder of House Stark, during a time when the ancestors of House Dustin of Barrowton ruled the North. Many famous structures are attributed to have been built under his direction (hence his nickname of "the Builder"), including Winterfell and most famously the Wall, which according to legend, he raised with the aid of giants. Also according to legend, it is said he aided Durran Godsgrief with the construction of Storm's End.[1][2] After a thousand years of war in the North, House Stark eventually took control over the land. But it still took him many years to make all northern houses kneel to him.

Season 1

When Arya Stark asks her father Eddard if her brother Bran can ever be a knight now that he is paralyzed; Eddard says no, but he can be lord of a holdfast or sit on the king's council. Eddard also says that Bran might even raise a castle, like his ancestor and namesake Brandon the Builder.[3]

Season 3

When Bran and his companions reach the Gift, he says it was given by Brandon the Builder to the Night's Watch for their "sustenance and support". He also explains, to Osha's discomfort, that the Gift has been abandoned due to the wildling raids.[4]

Season 5

Shireen Baratheon is excited to join her father Stannis Baratheon's march on Winterfell since she has read that the Kings in the North are buried in its crypt, including Bran the Builder.[5]

In the books

Bran the Builder oversees the construction of the Wall

In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, Bran the Builder is also considered the founder of House Stark. According to legend, he advised Durran during the building of Storm's End when he was just a boy. He's also traditionally attributed to having granted the Gift to the Night's Watch, though maesters argue that it must have been a different King in the North also named Brandon. Some stories relate that Brandon the Builder was one of the many sons of Garth Greenhand, though the maesters again argue that this must be another Brandon, or that that particular tale is complete fiction.

Bran the Builder did not, of course, construct all of Winterfell. Even the original Winterfell was a massive fortress, but eight thousand years worth of incremental additions greatly expanded upon his original work. Nonetheless, there are still many parts of Winterfell which are said to date back to the time of Bran the Builder, and stand just as strong as the sections that were added later.

Author George R.R. Martin had stated that Bran the Builder might be a mythical character, noting he is as far removed from the timeframe of the books as Noah or Gilgamesh is from ours in the real world.[6]

Descendants named "Brandon" in the Stark dynasty

Names are often repeated in aristocratic families, and House Stark is no exception. Due to the fame of "Brandon the Builder" as the founder of House Stark, "Brandon" became a very common name in the family. Given the astonishing eight thousand year history of House Stark (albeit much of it predating written history), there are quite a large number of characters named "Brandon Stark" who lived at one time or another within the fictional history of Westeros. Many of them aren't necessarily named for the original Brandon, but because a close relative was named after the original Brandon (or both), thus reinforcing the popularity of the name. There are at least eight distinct historical characters named "Brandon Stark" in the novels, though this is stretched across thousands of years. Within the relatively recent history of House Stark, two important characters are named "Brandon Stark": Ned Stark's older brother Brandon Stark, who was killed by the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen, and Ned Stark's second youngest son Bran Stark, who was crippled when defenestrated by Jaime Lannister. Ned's son was specifically named in memory of his uncle, who died about seven years before Ned's son Brandon was born. For TV viewers, only three of these Brandons are important, and in general, there is usually little confusion in which one is being referred to Brandon the Builder lived thousands of years ago, and Ned's son is usually called "Bran" for short to distinguish him from his uncle.

Author George R.R. Martin made it a point to have several characters with the same name because this happened in real life. It would be implausible if there was only one character named "Brandon" in the entire continent, throughout history. Moreover, names tend to repeat in aristocratic dynasties in honor of famous ancestors. One of the reasons Martin wrote the A Song of Ice and Fire novels is because he grew so frustrated with writing for television and film, in which budget constraints and audience attention span are a limiting factor. As Martin explained:

"I remember as a little baby writer I was taught never have two characters whose names begin with the same letter because people will get them confused. And I realized I was going to have more than 26 characters, so that would have to go out the window. - And also I was reading a lot of history. [People said], 'Never have two characters with the same letter? Certainly, never have two characters with the same name.' But then I'm saying, 'That's so unrealistic.'
I mean, English history is entirely composed of Henrys and Edwards. There are endless Henrys and Edwards, and you know, not only kings, who at least get numbers, but the guys who never become king. They're princes, and then they die. They're not even distinguished by numbers and it's very hard to keep all these guys straight. But that's the way the history actually was. Families using the same name over again. And I like that element of verisimilitude, [so] I adopted that.
You know, the Starks have [the name] Brandon. We have Bran, who is the kid, Brandon, Eddard's brother. There are other Brandons, if you back in the Stark family tree. [Including Brandon the Builder.] And many Brandons in between. Like the English with Edwards or Williams."[7]

See also