Much of the action in George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire takes place in and around various strongholds of note on the continent of Westeros. The strongholds of Westeros can be broken into three general categories:
- Cities: These are large settlements with tens or hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, centered on or located near a major castle or fortress. There are only five settlements in Westeros large enough to be called cities: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown and White Harbour.
- Towns: These are smaller settlements of a few thousand inhabitants, dominated by a castle or fortress. There are many of these across Westeros, but the only ones to have played a major role in the books to date are Duskendale, Stoney Sept, Maidenpool and the Shadow Town next to Sunspear.
- Strongholds: These are castles or fortresses which stand alone, or are located near a small supporting town or village. Castle Black, Darry, Winterfell and most of the castles of Westeros fall into this category.
Strongholds of the NorthEdit
Winterfell is the ancestral seat of House Stark. According to legend, it was built by Brandon the Builder, the first King in the North, around the same time that he raised the Wall some eight thousand years ago. This makes Winterfell possibly the oldest continually-inhabited fortress in Westeros. Over the millennia, many parts of the castle have collapsed and been rebuilt, leaving the castle as a collection of numerous keeps, towers, barracks and two layers of granite walls. The outer walls are 80ft high with a deep moat lying just inside it. The inner walls are 100 ft tall. The Great Keep of Winterfell lies within the innermost walls. There are several gates through the walls, one leading to the neighbouring winter town and the Hunter's Gate, which leads directly towards the nearby Wolfswood and fields. There is also an East Gate and a King's Gate.
The oldest part of the castle is the godswood, 3 acres of ash and oak trees (among others) with a heart tree at the center. The godswood is where the Starks and their retainers pray to the old gods, the nameless gods of the First Men and the Children of the Forest. One of the oldest parts of the castle itself is the crypt, where the bones of the Lords of Winterfell and the Kings in the North before them lie. The crypts are extremely deep and are always very cold. The First Keep was the first fortress to be built on the site of Winterfell, consisting of a round fortress and a tall tower attached to it. Both are now in ruin; the tower was struck by lightning circa 140 years ago and has never been repaired.
The castle is built over natural springs. Hot water is piped from the springs through the castle's chambers to warm them. There are glass gardens where food is grown even in the midst of winter, and this is kept heated by the waters of the springs.
Winterfell also contains kennels, an armoury, a weapons practice yard, a rookery, a bell tower and a library (with its own tower). The Bell Tower is connected to the Rookery by a bridge. There is also a small sept for the use of southrons.
The winter town lies just beyond the castle and consists of a number of wooden and undressed stone houses. These houses are largely unoccupied during summer, with the smallfolk of the area instead working farms further afield. During winter the smallfolk retreat to the town to await the coming of spring. The winter town also possesses an inn named the Smoking Log.
Winterfell was occupied by ironborn raiders under the command of Theon Greyjoy during the War of the Five Kings. Greyjoy was in turn besieged by a force of northmen gathered from the surrounding areas, but with the help of Ramsey Snow, the bastard of House Bolton, he was able to disperse the besiegers. However, Ramsey turned on Theon, taking him prisoner and sacking the castle, leaving it ablaze. Although Winterfell was badly damaged in the process, stone and granite does not burn, and the castle could be made habitable again. This is one of the goals of King Stannis I Baratheon in his attempt to woo the northmen to his cause.
Deepwood Motte is a motte-and-bailey castle near the shores of the Bay of Ice, north-west of Winterfell on the far side of the Wolfswood. It is set on a hill for defence. It is the seat of House Glover.
Deepwood Motte was captured by the ironborn during the War of the Five Kings and remains under their control. King Stannis I Baratheon plans to recapture Deepwood Motte as part of his plan to win the support of the northmen to his cause.
The Dreadfort is the stronghold of House Bolton. It is located on the banks of the Weeping Water. A strong fortress, it has high walls with triangular merlons that look like sharp stone teeth. The Dreadfort is ill-omened, for there are many torture chambers, and it is said the Boltons have a special room where they hang the flayed skins of their enemies, including, it is said, several previous Kings in the North.
During the War of the Five Kings the Boltons turned on their Stark allies and aided the Freys in slaughtering them at the Red Wedding. The Boltons were then named Wardens of the North by Tywin Lannister. With the bulk of the Bolton host trapped south of Moat Cailin, the Dreadfort is currently under the rule of Ramsay Bolton, the recently-legitimised bastard son of Lord Roose Bolton. It is said that Theon Greyjoy is being held in a dungeon below the castle.
Greywater Watch is located deep within the swamps and mires of the Neck. It is the southern-most stronghold of the North and the principal fortress of the diminutive crannogmen who live on the Neck. Greywater Watch is the seat of House Reed and is located upon one of the strange floating islands of the Neck. It is impossible for outlanders to find Greywater Watch because it literally moves. Several armies of the River Kings and later the Freys have attempted to conquer Greywater, but none could find it.
Over a thousand years ago, Karlon Stark, a younger son of House Stark, successfully crushed a rebel lord in the forests north-east of Winterfell. For his service, these lands were gifted to him, and he established Karl's Hold. Over the course of many centuries, this became known as Karhold and the Karhold Starks became the Karstarks. Karhold has a reputation as a strong fortress.
Moat Cailin is said to be the oldest fortress in Westeros, raised by the First Men over a thousand years ago to protect the North from attack. It consisted of twenty towers overlooking the swamp causeway leading out of the Neck, only three of which remain standing. The Drunken Tower, the Gatehouse Tower and the Children's Tower are decaying and leaning, overgrown with moss. Although long fallen into ruin, Moat Cailin is still extremely formidable, as it is nearly impregnable by an attack from the south. It is said that a few hundred archers could hold Moat Cailin against an army many times its size for some time.
Moat Cailin was captured by an attack from the north led by Victarion Greyjoy during the War of the Five Kings. Although Victarion returned to the Iron Islands to partake in the Kingsmoot which saw his brother Euron Crow's Eye become King, his men continue to hold Moat Cailin against the Bolton armies to the south seeking to return home.
Torrhen's Square is a strong castle of the North, an impressive square fortress with thirty-feet-high stone walls and a stout, square keep within. It is located on the shores of lake at north-western end of the Barrowlands. It is the seat of House Tallheart.
During the War of the Five Kings Torrhen's Square was captured by ironborn raiders under Dagmer Cleftjaw. It was then recaptured by Ser Rodrik Cassel prior to the destruction of Winterfell.
- See: White Harbour.
The Wall and Castles of the Night's WatchEdit
- Main Article: Night's Watch.
Other Strongholds of the NorthEdit
- Barrow Hall in Barrowton: Seat of House Dustin, located at the headwaters of a tributary of Saltspear on the western edge of the Barrowlands.
- Bear Island: Seat of House Mormont. It is a large island in the Bay of Ice; the principal stronghold is a wooden fortress, little more than a large hall.
- Castle Cerwyn: The castle of House Cerwyn, located a day's ride from Winterfell and the closest major stronghold to it.
- Flint's Finger: Home to one of the branches of House Flint, located on the northern side of Cape Kraken west of the Neck and north of the Flint Cliffs.
- Goldgrass: Seat of House Stout.
- Last Hearth: Seat of House Umber, located north of the Last River.
- Oldcastle: Seat of House Locke, located south and east of White Harbour on a peninsula facing out towards the Sisters.
- The Rills: Seat of House Ryswell. It is located between the Stony Shore and the Barrowlands, in the hilly river-country of the same name.
- Widow's Watch: Home to one of the branches of House Flint, Widow's Watch is located at the end of a long peninsular extending south and east into the Narrow Sea.
- Hornwood: Seat of House Hornwood.
Strongholds of the RiverlandsEdit
Riverrun is the ancestral stronghold of House Tully, lords of the Riverlands since the Conquest. The castle is a massive structure of pale sandstone, triangular in shape, located at a fork of the Tumblestone River. Some have compared the keep to a massive ship. Standing in the middle of a river, it has pleasant gardens with songbirds, redwood trees and spicy flowers. It is possible to enter Riverrun from the Tumblestone, by ways of a water gate downstream from the Wheel Tower, as well as through the main entrance. The castle is bordered on two sides by the Tumblestone and the Red Fork, and the third side fronts on a massive manmade ditch, which is flooded to create a moat when the castle is under siege. Riverrun is crowned by a massive watchtower, which allows defenders in the stronghold to spot enemies approaching for miles. This advantage, combined with the defensive barrier provided by the rivers and moat, makes the castle extremely hard to take.
Riverrun was the location of Robb Stark's elevation to the rank of King in the North. The River Lords of the Trident, who had never been part of the old Northern Kingdom, also proclaimed their support for King Robb, and devoted their armies and castles to his service (with the notable exception of Walder Frey). At the beginning of the War of the Five Kings, Jaime Lannister besieged Riverrun with a massive host, but was defeated and captured by Robb Stark at the Battle of Whispering Wood. His host was later destroyed. When Lord Tywin Lannister later tried to attack into the Riverlands again, Edmure Tully drove back his assaults, saving Riverrun from attack. But after the death of King Robb at the Red Wedding, the Lannisters and Freys once again besieged the castle. The siege was disorganized (due to quarrels between the leaders of the Lannister and Frey delegations) and largely ineffective, even though Ser Ryman Frey held Lord Edmure Tully hostage. Ser Brynden Tully the Blackfish was able to defy the besiegers until Jaime Lannister arrived and negotiated a settlement with the captive Lord Edmure, who surrendered the castle rather than have Jaime storm it and butcher his people. Riverrun then passed into the hands of Emmon Frey, an ally of House Lannister.
Harrenhal was constructed before the Conquest by King Harren the Black, ruler of the Iron Islands and the Riverlands. The extremely proud Harren created Harrenhal to be the greatest of all castles, larger and stronger than any other stronghold. Unfortunately, the high walls and forbidding towers of Harren's stronghold were useless against the dragons of House Targaryen; Aegon and his sisters burned Harren and his host alive within the castle's walls. Due to the extreme heat, the fortress took on a charred, blackened and melted appearance.
Harrenhal, which sits on the shore of the lake known as Gods Eye, has of five colossal black towers and an equally monstrous curtain wall. Its walls are so thick that the gates are like tunnels, and its halls are built on a scale that would be more comfortable for giants than for humans. Its godswood is larger than any other, inhabited by flocks of bats. The castle, however, is next to useless; it is too huge to garrison without an entire army and too expensive to maintain. Because of this weakness, along with a semi-legendary curse left on the stronghold after Harren's death, no House has been able to hold Harrenhal for long, and its great halls have seen countless horrors. A long line of Houses, including the accursed Lothstons and the unfortunate Whents, held the castle prior to the War of the Five Kings.
During the early stages of that war, Lady Whent yielded Harrenhal to Lord Tywin Lannister, who held it himself for a short while before turning it over to the castellan Ser Amory Lorch. Although Queen Cersei promised Lord Janos Slynt that he would rule in Harrenhal, then-King's Hand Tyrion Lannister revoked Slynt's claim and later granted the castle to Petyr Baelish. Because of the war, however, neither man ever set foot in the castle. Harrenhal was first held by the Lannister garrison under Amory Lorch, who was assisted by the Brave Companions (also known as the Bloody Mummers), a sellsword company led by Vargo Hoat. But the northmen under Lord Roose Bolton simply bought the Bloody Mummers and convinced them to revolt. Bolton soon arrived to hold the castle for House Stark. But he soon departed, and left Harrenhal in the hands of Hoat and the Bloody Mummers. Hoat, although he did at one time capture Jaime Lannister, was unable to stop Ser Gregor Clegane from retaking the castle for House Lannister. Clegane savagely executed Hoat after feeding him his own flesh, but was called to King's Landing to participate in the trial by battle of Tyrion Lannister. After Tyrion escaped and murdered Lord Tywin, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister dispatched Ser Jaime Lannister to take control of the castle. Jaime cleared out the remnants of Clegane's men and left a garrison consisting mainly of the pious regiment known as the Holy Hundred. Harrenhal's fate remains uncertain.
The Twins are a heavily fortified set of castles connected by a stone arch bridge on the Green Fork river. This bridge is wide enough for two wagons to cross abreast and guarded by a tower in the middle known as the Water Tower. The Twins have been the seat of House Frey for over six hundred years and they have grown wealthy by charging a heavy toll on all those who need to cross, as it is the only place to do so within several days travel. As the Freys are both wealthy and numerous they are one of the most powerful houses sworn to House Tully, able to raise four thousand men-at-arms. Still, the Freys have been of suspect loyalty in the past and the current head of the House, Lord Walder Frey, is known as a prickly and prideful old man.
During the War of the Five Kings, the Freys rose in rebellion against the Iron throne, for the King in the North. The rebellion was contingent on a Frey's betrothal to Robb Stark. However, after Robb Stark broke his betrothal to a Frey for a Westerling, Lord Walder Frey plotted his revenge for the slight. Lord Frey arranged another marriage between Lord Edmure Tully and his daughter, Lady Roslin Frey. Conspiring with Lord Roose Bolton (who decided he would not fight for the losing side) and his enemy Lord Tywin Lannister, Frey disguised his men-at-arms as musicians. During the wedding, the "musicians" began to slaughter the guests at the feast, including Lady Catelyn Stark and even King Robb himself. This event became known as the Red Wedding.
Other Strongholds of the RiverlandsEdit
- Seagard: Seat of House Mallister
- Lord Harroway's Town: Seat of House Roote
- Saltpans: Seat of House Hawick
- Maidenpool: Seat of House Mooton
- Acorn Hall: Seat of House Smallwood
- Pinkmaiden: Seat of House Piper
- Raventree Hall: Seat of House Blackwood
- Stone Hedge: Seat of House Bracken
- Darry: Seat of House Darry
- Willow Wood: Seat of House Ryger
- Wayfarer's Rest: Seat of House Vance
- Atranta: Seat of House Vance
Strongholds of the ValeEdit
The Eyrie is the ancient seat of House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility. It is situated high on the mountain known as the Giant's Lance, and is reachable only by a narrow mule trail, guarded by the Gates of the Moon and three small waycastles; Stone, Snow and Sky. The Eyrie is the smallest of the great castles, consisting only of a cluster of slim towers. It is supplied by means of a massive dumbwaiter that extends down to the topmost waycastle. While many, including Lysa Arryn, claim that the Eyrie is impregnable due to it mountainous surroundings, this advantage is not permanent, as winter snows can make supplying the fortress impossible. The Eyrie's dungeons, known as "sky cells," are particularly infamous; they are left open to the cold sky and have sloping floors that put prisoners on edge with fear of slipping or rolling off the edge in their sleep, causing many prisoners to commit suicide rather than remain imprisoned. Executions in the Eyrie are carried out via the Moon Door, which opens from the high hall onto a sickening six hundred foot drop to the stones of the mountain. The Eyrie is also unique in that it lacks a godswood; no weirwood tree would take root in the stony soil.
The Eyrie was held by Lord Jon Arryn, who fostered Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon prior to the War of the Usurper. Lord Arryn was the first to raise his banners in rebellion against House Targaryen. After the war Lord Arryn served as King Robert I Baratheon's King's Hand. After Lord Arryn was assassinated, his wife Lysa Arryn took her sickly child, Robert, and fled once more to the Eyrie. (It would later be revealed that Lysa herself killed her husband, as part of an intrigue masterminded by Lord Petyr Baelish.) Lysa refused to align herself with any of the claimants during the War of the Five Kings, but eventually consented to an alliance with House Lannister after Petyr Baelish agreed to marry her. Baelish killed Lysa after she attempted to execute Sansa Stark (who was disguised as Baelish's bastard daughter), and now rules in the Eyrie as the Lord Protector and Regent for the sickly, stunted Lord Robert Arryn.
The Gates of the MoonEdit
The Gates of the Moon is a castle of moderate size that guards the path to the Eyrie. It has often served as a winter seat for House Arryn, and is always garrisoned to help prevent any attempt at besieging or capturing the Eyrie. The castle is currently held by Lord Nestor Royce. Originally, Royce was only a temporary caretaker, but Lord Protector Petyr Baelish granted him ownership of the Gates of the Moon after the War of the Five Kings. His daughter, the ribald young widow Myranda Royce, serves as his chatelaine and hostess and is known to keep a lively court there.
The Bloody GateEdit
The Bloody Gate is a massive gate that blocks the mountain pass into the Vale of Arryn. It is guarded by seasoned Vale troops, led by the Knight of the Gate. The Bloody Gate has never fallen; countless armies were destroyed attempting to breach it during the Age of Heroes. In the present day and age, it guards mostly against raids by the warrior clans of the mountains. The last Knight of the Gate was Ser Brynden Tully, but he abandoned his position to follow King Robb Stark when the War of the Five Kings broke out. Current Knight of the Gate is Ser Donnel Waynwood, the second son of Lady Anya Waynwood of Ironoaks Castle.
- See: Gulltown.
Other Strongholds of the ValeEdit
- Old Anchor: Seat of House Melcolm.
- Runestone: Seat of House Royce.
- Ironoaks: Seat of House Waynwood.
- Redfort: Seat of House Redfort.
- Wickenden: Seat of House Waxley.
- Heart's Home: Seat of House Corbray.
- Longbow Hall: Seat of House Hunter.
- Snakewood: Seat of House Lynderly.
- Coldwater Burn: Seat of House Coldwater.
- Sweetsister: Seat of House Borrell.
- Strongsong: Seat of House Belmore.
- Ninestars: Seat of House Templeton.
- Grey Glen: Seat of House Tollett.
Strongholds of the Iron IslandsEdit
Pyke and LordsportEdit
Pyke is the seat of House Greyjoy, which for years has ruled over the Iron Islands. The castle of Pyke is built on the end of a rocky peninsula on the island of Pyke. Pyke's throne is the Seastone Chair. The endless pounding of the sea has worn away much of the rock on which Pyke originally stood, so the castle now consists mostly of a main keep on the main island and smaller towers perched on rocks in the sea. These towers are linked by swaying rope bridges. Lordsport is a village on the far end of the island, overlooked by the castle of House Botley.
During the Greyjoy Rebellion, Lordsport and the Botley stronghold were razed by Robert Baratheon, and Pyke was besieged and conquered by his forces. Balon Greyjoy was left as Lord of Pyke, but his son Theon was taken as hostage, to be fostered by Eddard Stark. In the years since the rebellion, Lordsport has been rebuilt, save for the sept, and Lord Sawane Botley built a small stone keep to replace the old timber and wattle castle.
Following Balon's death, Sawane Botley was drowned by Euron Greyjoy for declaring Theon the rightful heir; the current lord of Lordsport is unknown. Aeron Greyjoy called a kingsmoot to select a new ruler of the Iron Islands, and Euron was chosen to be the new king. He intends to wed Daenerys Targaryen, claim the Iron Throne, and give the Seastone Chair to his brother Victarion.
The Ten TowersEdit
The Ten Towers is the seat of House Harlaw, one of the most powerful Houses of the Iron Islands. The castle consists of ten towers clustered together, and is currently held by Lord Rodrik Harlaw, known as the Reader for his love of books. Ten Towers was not always the seat of House Harlaw, but Lord Rodrik's recent ancestors decided to move there because of the disrepair and terrible climate of the previous seat, Harlaw Hall. Lord Rodrik supported Asha Greyjoy in the struggle for the kingship of the Iron Islands, but now serves King Euron Greyjoy with the rest of the ironmen.
Other Strongholds and islands of the Iron IslandsEdit
- Blacktyde: Seat of House Blacktyde
- Old Wyk: Seat of Houses Drumm and Stonehouse
- Great Wyk: Seat of House Sparr
- Lonely Light: Seat of House Farwynd
- Hammerhorn: Seat of House Goodbrother
- Harlaw: Seat of Houses Kenning, Myre, Stonetree and Volmark
- Pebbleton: Seat of House Merlyn
- Orkmont: Seat of Houses Orkwood and Tawney
- Saltcliffe: Seat of Houses Saltcliffe and Sunderly
- Iron Holt: Seat of House Wynch
Strongholds of the WesterlandsEdit
A stronghold carved from a mountain overlooking the harbor-city of Lannisport and the sea beyond, Casterly Rock is the ancestral seat of House Lannister. Watery caves lie beneath it. According to popular legend, the hero known as Lann the Clever tricked the Casterlys into giving up the Rock, and took it for himself. The Rock is renowned as one of the strongest castles of the Seven Kingdoms. It was held by Lord Tywin Lannister prior to the War of the Five Kings, but after his death, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister made one of her cousins castellan of the castle.
Upon the death of her father, and with the unavailability of her brothers, Cersei Lannister has been acknowledged as Lady of Casterly Rock by her uncle Kevan.
- See: Lannisport.
Other Strongholds of the WesterlandsEdit
- Banefort: Seat of House Banefort.
- Faircastle: Seat of House Farmen.
- The Crag: Seat of House Westerling.
- Ashemark: Seat of House Marbrand.
- Golden Tooth: Seat of House Lefford.
- Crakehall: Seat of House Crakehall.
- Deep Den: Seat of House Lydden.
- Silverhill: Seat of House Serrett.
- Cornfield: Seat of House Swyft.
- Sarsfield: Seat of House Sarsfield.
- Feastfires: Seat of House Prester.
- Kayce: Seat of House Kenning.
- Hornvale: Seat of House Brax.
- Greenfield: Seat of House Greenfield.
Strongholds of the ReachEdit
Highgarden is the seat of House Tyrell. Overlooking the River Mander, the castle is a strong fortress surrounded by rich fields. The beautiful castle is noted for its gardens. Fruit and food which comes from the area is often called 'the bounty of Highgarden'. Hawking, hunting and riding through the verdant countryside is a favoured occupation of the Tyrells. Lord Mace Tyrell rules over the castle, but with him currently leading an army in the siege of Storm's End, the castle is currently under the stewardship of Lord Mace's son and heir, Willas.
- See: Oldtown.
The Arbor is a large island off the southwestern coast of Westeros proper. It serves as the seat of House Redwyne. The Arbor has several lesser islands around its periphery. The Arbor is known for its vineyards and production of wine, and is home to a large fleet of both trading vessels and warships, operating out of the maritime center of Ryamsport. Their prosperous trade and sizable fleet set House Redwyne among the more powerful of the nobles houses in the Reach, and they have married well into other prominent houses including Tyrell and Rowan.
Other Strongholds of the ReachEdit
- Tumbleton: Seat of House Footly.
- Grassy Vale: Seat of House Meadows.
- Bitterbridge: Seat of House Caswell.
- Longtable: Seat of House Merryweather.
- Cider Hall: Seat of House Fossoway.
- Ashford: Seat of House Ashford.
- Old Oak: Seat of House Oakheart.
- Horn Hill: Seat of House Tarly.
- Brightwater Keep: Seat of House Florent.
- Bandallon: Seat of House Blackbar.
- Blackcrown: Seat of House Bulwer.
- Three Towers: Seat of House Costayne.
- Uplands: Seat of House Mullendore.
- Standfast: Seat of House Osgrey.
- Darkdell: Seat of House Vyrwel.
Strongholds of the CrownlandsEdit
- See: King's Landing.
Several days ride from King's Landing, Duskendale is one of the larger towns of Westeros. The fortress is a stout castle called the Dun Fort. Originally the seat of House Darklyn, Duskendale was granted to House Rykker after the incident that became known as the Defiance of Duskendale which also resulted in the destruction of House Darklyn. The Darklyns had the distinguishing characteristic of having had seven of its family members in the Kingsguard, which was reflected by seven white shields in their coat of arms.
Ser Jaremy of House Rykker was a member of the Night's Watch who was killed by a wight at Castle Black. During the War of the Five Kings Duskendale was assaulted by forces under the command of Helman Tallhart and Robett Glover. This was ordered by Roose Bolton in a ploy to inflict losses on the bannermen that showed strong loyalty to King Robb Stark in preparation for the treason at the Red Wedding.
Dragonstone was once the westernmost outpost of the ancient Freehold of Valyria. A century before the Doom, the Targaryen family was sent to Dragonstone to rule there. When the Doom came upon Valyria, House Targaryen survived along with the last of the Valyrian dragons. Another century later, Aegon Targaryen and his sisters Rhaenys and Visenya launched a massive campaign of conquest from the island, and eventually conquered all of Westeros except for Dorne. Aegon's progeny would reign as kings of the Seven Kingdoms for centuries.
Dragonstone is a massive, forbidding fortress, taking up a large portion of the island of the same name. The castle is unique in that the masons of Valyria carved its towers and keeps into the shapes of dragons, and made ferocious gargoyles to cover its walls. The castle's lower levels are oddly warm; there is still some volcanic activity deep below the keep. There is a small port and town outside of the castle.
During the War of the Usurper, previous to the Sack of King's Landing, the Targaryen Queen Rhaella, who was pregnant, and her son Viserys were sent to Dragonstone along with part of the Targaryen fleet and a garrison of loyal soldiers. But after King's Landing fell, Robert Baratheon dispatched his brother Stannis to take the island stronghold. After a storm destroyed the royalist fleet, the Targaryen garrison tried to betray Viserys and his newborn sister, Daenerys, to Stannis (the queen had died in childbirth). But Targaryen loyalists led by Ser Willem Darry spirited the children away. Stannis conquered Dragonstone easily, and King Robert granted him ownership of the castle, which Stannis took as a slight, because his younger brother Renly then inherited Storm's End, the ancient seat of House Baratheon. Upon Robert's death, Stannis declared himself King, condemning the Queen's children as bastards born of incest. Dragonstone became his main seat; he returned there after the disastrous Battle of King's Landing. His councillor, the red priestess Melissandre of Asshai, tried to convince him to let her raise the "stone dragon" of the castle through blood magic, but was thwarted by Lord Davos Seaworth, who convinced Stannis to go north to the Wall to help fight against the wildlings and the Others. After Stannis abandoned Dragonstone, Queen Regent Cersei Lannister dispatched a fleet to barricade it, and ordered the castle besieged. But Ser Loras Tyrell, impatient to free the fleet to protect his home castle of Highgarden, attacked Dragonstone directly. He took the castle, but lost thousands of men and was himself reportedly gravely wounded. Dragonstone now once again belongs to the Iron Throne.
There are a few Houses sworn to Dragonstone:
- Sweetport Sound seat of House Sunglass
- Claw Isle seat of House Celtigar
- Sharp Point seat of House Bar Emmon
- Driftmark seat of House Velaryon
A castle near Kings Landing, it is close enough to provide fresh foodstuffs for the royal household. At the beginning of A Song of Ice and Fire its ruler is the elderly Lady Tanda, who has two grown daughters: her married daughter Falyse, heiress to Stokeworth Castle, and Lollys, a dim-witted, child-like woman.
Lady Tanda ultimately died and was succeeded by Lady Falyse and her husband, Ser Balman Birch. Ser Balman was killed by Lollys' new husband, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, an unsavory hedge knight once in service to Tyrion Lannister, after he attempted to dispense with him at the direction of Cersei Lannister, and the castle fell under Ser Bronn's control, who now styles himself Lord Protector of Stokeworth. Expelled from her castle, Falyse took shelter with Cersei in the Red Keep, where she was given to the unscrupulous maester Qyburn to aid him in his experiments.
Other Strongholds of the CrownlandsEdit
- Antlers: Seat of House Buckwell
- Dyre Den: Seat of House Brune
- Brownhollow: Seat of a cadet branch of House Brune
- Sow's Horn: Seat of House Hogg
- Rook's Rest: Seat of House Staunton
- Stonedance: Seat of House Massey
- Rosby: Seat of House Rosby
- The Whispers: Seat of House Crabb. Now in ruins.
Strongholds of the StormlandsEdit
Storm's End is the seat of House Baratheon and, before them, the ancestral seat of the Storm Kings extending back many thousands of years. According to legend, the first Storm King in the age of the First Men was Durran, who won the love of Elenei, the daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the wind. He took her as wife, and in a rage her parents sent vast storms to shatter his keep and kill his wedding guests and family. Durran declared war against the gods and raised several castles over Shipbreaker Bay, each larger and more formidable than the last. Finally, the seventh castle stayed in place and resisted the storms. Some believe this is because the Children of the Forest took a hand in its construction; others believe that a young boy who grew up to be Brandon Stark, the builder of the Wall, advised Durran on its construction. The truth of the matter is unknown.
Storm's End is exceptionally formidable. In the history of Seven Kingdoms, it has never fallen to either siege or storm. Its outer defences consist of a huge curtain wall, 100 ft tall and 40 ft thick on its thinnest side, nearly 80 ft thick on its seaward side. The wall consists of a double course of stones with an inner core of sand and rubble. The wall is smooth and curving, the stones so well placed that there are nearly no places where the wind can get into cracks between the stones. On the seaward side, there is a 150 ft drop below the wall into the sea.
The castle itself consists of one huge drum tower crowned with formidable battlements, so that from a distance enemies can see what appears to be a single huge, spiked fist thrusting towards the sky in defiance. The tower is so large that it can comfortably contain stables, barracks, armoury and lord's chambers all in the same structure.
Storm's End is said to be protected by spells weaved into the very walls that prevent the use of any magic against it.
Although never taken in battle, Storm's End has endured several sieges and battles in recent history. The last Storm King, Argilac the Arrogant, abandoned his impressive defences to meet Orrys Baratheon in open battle during Aegon Targaryen's War of Conquest, and suffered accordingly. During the War of the Usurper, Storm's End was besieged for a year by the host of Lord Mace Tyrell, who commanded the landward forces, whilst Paxter Redwyne's fleet of the Arbor kept the castle cut off by sea. Stannis Baratheon, commanding the defence, refused to yield and his men were reduced to eating rats. A smuggler named Davos Seaworth ran the blockade to resupply the castle and Stannis rewarded him by enobling him, but took several of his fingers as compensation for his smuggling. After the war, Stannis was furious when his brother Robert, now king, gave the castle to their younger brother Renly and placed Stannis in command of cold, windswept Dragonstone, which led to many years of bitterness on Stannis' part. During the War of the Five Kings the castle supported Renly and was besieged by Stannis. Following Renly's death, the castle castellan refused to yield. He was killed under mysterious circumstances after the red priestess Melisandre was smuggled under the castle. Soon after this, the castle surrendered to Stannis's forces. Later in the war, the castle was besieged by a strong army under Mace Tyrell, but he only had the castle under siege for a few weeks before he abandoned the siege to return to King's Landing after the arrest of his daughter Margaery by the High Septon for amoral behaviour. The castle remains loyal to King Stannis Baratheon.
Summerhall was the summer palace of the Targaryens, located within the Stormlands but in close proximity to the borders of Dorne and the Reach as well. It was built during the notably pro-Dornish reign of King Daeron II Targaryen. A younger child of the Targaryen family was given the title 'Prince of Summerhall', whilst the direct heir was given the title 'Prince of Dragonstone', and it was a favourite haunt of King Daeron's youngest son, Prince Maekar, who maintained a household there after the Blackfyre Rebellion.
Summerhall was destroyed by fire in the year 259 AL, on the same night Prince Rhaegar Targaryen was born to Prince Aerys and his sister-wife Rhaella. The fire was a serious blow to House Targaryen, as King Aegon V Targaryen, his eldest son and heir Prince Duncan and his good friend Ser Duncan the Tall, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, were also all killed. The fire is sometimes blamed on one of the periodic attempts by the Targaryens to hatch ancient dragon eggs.
Other Strongholds of the StormlandsEdit
- Blackhaven: Seat of House Dondarrion.
- Greenstone: Seat of House Estermont.
- Mistwood: Seat of House Mertyns.
- Stonehelm: Seat of House Swann.
- Crow's Nest: Seat of House Morrigen.
- Griffin's Roost: Seat of House Connington.
- Rain House: Seat of House Wylde.
- Bronzegate: Seat of House Buckler.
- Felwood: Seat of House Fell.
- Harvest Hall: Seat of House Selmy.
- Evenfall Hall: Seat of House Tarth.
Strongholds of DorneEdit
Sunspear is the seat of House Martell, overlords of Dorne. The stronghold consists of three towers, (the Sand, Sun, and Spear), as well as the "shadow city," a crowded warren of bazaars, shops, and houses that clings to the walls of the castle. The stronghold's gates are designed so that the defenses of the three towers only line up in one location, which is heavily defended. Sunspear is currently held by Prince Doran Martell.
Seat of House Dayne, among the most powerful houses sworn to Sunspear, seat of House Martell. It is here that the greatsword Dawn, weapon of The Sword of the Morning, is kept awaiting a Dayne worthy of wielding it. The castle Starfall is beautifully located, overlooking the sea. Among its towers is the Palestone Sword, from which Lady Ashara Dayne was reported to have leapt to her death.
Other Strongholds of DorneEdit
- Lemonwood: Seat of House Dalt.
- Ghost Hill: Seat of House Toland.
- Godsgrace: Seat of House Allyrion.
- Red-Dunes-by-Vaith: Seat of House Vaith.
- The Tor: Seat of House Jordayne.
- Salt Shore: Seat of House Gargalen.
- Hellholt: Seat of House Uller.
- High Hermitage: Seat of a cadet branch of House Dayne.
- Sandstone: Seat of House Qorgyle.
- Stonewall: Seat of House Endridge.
- Skyreach: Seat of House Fowler.
- Yronwood: Seat of House Yronwood.
- Blackmont: Seat of House Blackmont.
- Kingsgrave: Seat of House Manwoody.
- Spottswood: Seat of House Santagar.
Strongholds of Note Beyond WesterosEdit
Hardhome is a large town on Storrold's Point, a peninsula extending north and east from the Haunted Forest into the Shivering Sea. It is the northern-most large settlement on the continent of Westeros. Hardhome is the largest settlement of the wildlings, the people who live beyond the Wall.
The Port of IbbenEdit
The Port of Ibben is a large settlement on the large island of Ibben, which is located in the Shivering Sea approximately one thousand miles due east of Skagos. The Port of Ibben is known to be a whaling and trading port, where furs and sealskins are among the items traded.