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This page is about the castle. For other uses, see: Winterfell (disambiguation)
House Stark
House Stark

505 Bolton map 2

Winterfell marked by name on the Boltons' map in "Kill the Boy".

"Winterfell is our home. It's ours and Arya's and Bran's and Rickon's. Wherever they are, it belongs to our family. We have to fight for it."
Sansa Stark to Jon Snow[src]

Winterfell[2] is the capital of the Kingdom of the North and the seat and the ancestral home of the royal House Stark. It is a very large castle located at the center of the North, from where the head of House Stark rules over his or her people.

During the War of the Five Kings, Winterfell is seized by the Starks' enemies, first by the Ironborn, and later by the Boltons. Eventually the Starks liberate Winterfell. In the subsequent Great War, Winterfell is the site of the great battle between the Army of the Dead and the Starks and their allies.

History[]

Background[]

According to legend, House Stark has held Winterfell for 8,000 years, though it has been considerably expanded upon over the centuries.[3] It was said to have been built by House Stark's founder, Bran the Builder, during the Age of Heroes, who was also said to have constructed the Wall and even Storm's End.

The castle is located alongside the Kingsroad as it makes its way from the Wall to the capital of the Six Kingdoms, King's Landing, more than a thousand miles to the south. A small godswood is enclosed within the walls. It is situated atop hot springs which keep the castle warm even in the worst winters. Winding tombs below the castle contain the remains of Stark kings and lords and record the history of the ancient family.[4] The castle has stood for millennia. According to Maester Luwin, there are hidden passageways built in the castle so its Lords could escape.[5]

Game of Thrones: Season 1[]

The Stark family is at Winterfell. Following Jon Arryn's death, king Robert arrives along with much of the royal court, including Cersei Lannister, their three children, Jaime and Tyrion. A great feast is held in Robert's honor. Robert visits the tomb of Lyanna Stark and asks Eddard to return with him to King's Landing as his new Hand.[4]

After word reaches Robb that his father has been arrested in King's Landing, he calls the armies of all the Northern bannermen. Robb departs Winterfell to lead his army to war in the south and leaves Bran in charge as acting lord of Winterfell.[6]

Game of Thrones: Season 2[]

House Greyjoy invades the North. The treacherous Theon captures Winterfell.[7] Theon's men turn against him and hand him over to the Boltons. After killing the Ironborn, Ramsay Snow orders to destroy Winterfell. The castle is put to the torch and most of her people to the sword, with few if any survivors. All of the wooden parts of the castle are burned out, though the core stone structures remain intact.[5]

Game of Thrones: Season 3[]

Robb Stark, who is at Harrenhal at this point in time, receives word of the destruction of Winterfell at the hands of the Boltons.[8] Following the Red Wedding, Roose Bolton intends to relocate to Winterfell.[9]

Game of Thrones: Season 4[]

Boltons in Winterfell

House Bolton bannerman riding to Winterfell

Following the siege of Moat Cailin, the Bolton army returns to the North, to enforce Bolton/Lannister rule, and heads for Winterfell.[10]

Game of Thrones: Season 5[]

The Boltons settle in at Winterfell and bring in work crews and timber to start rebuilding the burned-out parts of the castle.[11] Stannis attempts to liberate Winterfell, but is defeated by the Boltons.[12]

Battle of Winterfell 1

Winterfell during the battle.

Game of Thrones: Season 6[]

The Starks defeat the Boltons. Wintefell is finally restored to House Starks.[13]

Jon-snow-winterfell-ramsay-bolton-fight

Winterfell is retaken by the Starks.

The Northen lords gather at Winterfell and proclaim Jon the King in the North.[14]

Game of Thrones: Season 7[]

Jon holds court at Winterfell, in which he and Sansa prepare for the defense against the White Walkers.[15]

Sansa helps prepare Winterfell for the Great War. Bran returns to Winterfell,[16] and Arya too.[17]

Game of Thrones: Season 8[]

Jon returns to Winterfell alongside Daenerys and her troops. They are greeted in the Winterfell courtyard by the Starks.[18]

The combined armies of the living prepare the defenses of Winterfell against the oncoming army of the dead. The White Walkers soon arrive in the night with their army of the dead,[19] leading to a great battle. As a result of this battle, Many battlements were destroyed, along with many of the gates and one of the walls, as well as some damage to the towers. The tombs in the crypts beneath Winterfell also received due to the dead inside bursting out to attack the living.[20]

Notable residents of the castle[]

Current residents[]

  • Queen Sansa Stark, daughter of Lord Eddard and Lady Catelyn Stark. Briefly lived in Winterfell under the Bolton's reign as Ramsay Bolton's wife, but escaped and helped Jon retake Winterfell with the help of the knights of the Vale. She is the current Queen in the North and Lady of Winterfell.
  • Wolkan, the castle's new maester, after the death of Maester Luwin. Formally served the Boltons until their subsequent extinction at the hands of the Starks.
  • Aberdolf Strongbeard, man-at-arms in the Winterfell garrison.

Former residents[]

Stark rule[]

Bolton rule[]

  • Lord {Roose Bolton}, Lord of the Dreadfort, Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North. Killed by Ramsay.
    • Lady {Walda Bolton}, Roose's latest wife. Granddaughter of Lord Walder Frey. Killed by Ramsay.
    • Lord {Ramsay Bolton}, his legitimized natural son, Previous Lord of Winterfell and the Dreadfort, and Warden of the North. Executed by Sansa Stark after the Battle of the Bastards by being fed to his own hounds.
  • {Reek}, formerly Theon Greyjoy, raised at Winterfell as Eddard Stark's ward and hostage for his father's good behavior. Abandoned the Stark cause and joined his father, Balon, in the War of the Five Kings. He took over Winterfell and installed himself as Prince of Winterfell until he was betrayed by his own crew shortly after. Later became the manservant and hostage of Ramsay. Helped Sansa escape Winterfell, Fled from the Iron Islands with his sister Yara Greyjoy and pledged himself to Daenerys Targaryen.
  • {Myranda}, one of Ramsay's bedwarmers and lover. Pushed to her death from a catwalk by a redeemed Theon after she threatened Sansa.

Behind the scenes[]

For the television series, a variety of locations were used to create Winterfell as it appears on screen. For the pilot, Doune Castle in Scotland was used for some exterior shots and the great feast held when King Robert Baratheon and his party arrive. Castle Ward in County Down, Northern Ireland was used for the scenes of sparring in Winterfell's castle yard and the arrival of Robert's party at Winterfell's gates. The rest of the castle, including the other interiors and the scenes involving Bran climbing the walls, were filmed as interiors at the Paint Hall studio facility in Belfast. For the first season itself, Castle Ward was the principal filming location for the Winterfell scenes. Doune Castle was not revisited. One of the only full scenes from Doune Castle to survive from the pilot is the scene in the crypts of Winterfell when Eddard and Robert visit Lyanna's grave. All subsequent appearances of the Winterfell crypts from Season 2 onward were filmed in the cellars of Shane's Castle in Northern Ireland.

While it isn't visible on-camera at all, the cellars of Shane's Castle are infested with numerous spiders. Any scenes in the cellars involving candles with open flames (all of them, because it is dark) will make swarms of spiders crawl out of their hiding places to scramble away from the heat source. The actors report that while the camera can't see them, they can, and there are so many they can hear them - and even feel them falling onto them. The actors don't like filming scenes in the cellar as a result.[21]

As of the end of Season 5, Winterfell is one of three locations (the others being King's Landing and Castle Black/the Wall) to be featured in every opening credits sequence, regardless as to whether the location is actually visited in the episode (this includes Season 3 and virtually all of Season 4 during which Winterfell is never visited nor seen at all).

As explained in the Blu-ray commentary, the main Winterfell set was greatly expanded in Season 5. The original sets from Seasons 1 and 2 primarily consisted of the outer courtyard, the feast hall, and one interior bedroom which could be redressed (for Eddard and Catelyn's room, Bran's room, etc.), but otherwise there wasn't an extensive interconnected interior set. For Season 5, the production team constructed a complex of staircases, corridors and bedrooms, all added on top of the existing courtyard and feast hall.[21]

In the books[]

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Winterfell is a huge castle complex spanning several acres, consisting of two massive walls with a ditch between them and a village located just outside. The complex consists of many buildings and keeps, some ancient and decrepit, some in good repair. According to legend, Winterfell was built by Bran the Builder eight thousand years ago.

The castle has been built over natural hot springs, and the scalding waters rush through its walls and chambers like blood through a man’s body, driving the chill from the stone halls, filling the glass gardens with a moist warmth, keeping the earth from freezing. Open pools smoke day and night in a dozen small courtyards. In summer, it is insignificant; in winter, it is the difference between life and death.

There is no mentioning in the novels that there are any hidden passageways in the castle.

The full castle as it appears at the start of the narrative has not been standing for eight thousand years: it was gradually expanded over many centuries like a tree growing new branches, giving it a less organized appearance than large castles which were planned out all at once such as the Red Keep in King's Landing. Parts have also had to be rebuilt over time, either due to natural degeneration or damage in sieges (Winterfell was burned out several times in ancient wars with the Boltons and other enemies, but the Starks always rallied and rebuilt it). The eldest surviving part of the castle is the First Keep, an old tower no longer actively used, which some maesters think dates back to some point after the Andal Invasion began six thousand years ago.

The crypts underneath Winterfell are massive - larger than the entire castle complex above ground. This is a testament to just how long the Starks have held Winterfell: according to tradition, there should be eight thousand years' worth of tombs in the crypts. According to tradition, while all Stark family members are buried in the crypts, statues are only made for those who were head of House Stark (either as kings or later as lords). There have been some exceptions over the generations, and Eddard himself had statues made at the tombs of his older brother Brandon and his sister Lyanna. The most ancient tombs are in the lower levels, and the more current ones closer to the surface. Many of the lower levels are half-collapsed and unexplored. With their vast size and lack of active use, it is quite easy for someone to hide in the crypts for weeks or even months at a time, as Bran, Rickon, and their followers did during the Sack of Winterfell, provided that they bring sufficient supplies with them. According to legend, when the infamous wildling rogue Bael the Bard seduced the daughter of a Stark lord, they hid out in the crypts for nearly a year undetected, long enough that when the daughter one day reappeared in her chambers she had with her the infant son that she had with Bael.

Gallery[]

References[]

Notes[]

  1. In "Winterfell," Roose Bolton states that Winterfell was raised over 8,000 years ago; therefore, Winterfell was built circa 7700 BC.

External links[]


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