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The War for the Dawn was a major conflict in the history of Westeros, although it happened such a vast period of time ago that it is held to be little more than myth now.
Approximately eight thousand years before Aegon's Landing, in the midst of a great winter that lasted for years, a terrible darkness fell across Westeros and the east. The Long Night lasted a generation and laid waste to much of the world through famine and terror. In the midst of this darkness a race of apparent demons emerged from the uttermost north, wielding razor-thin swords of ice and raising the dead to fight the living. The children of the forest and their allies, the First Men, fought valiantly against them, but were driven southwards by their advance. The 'Others', as these demons were called, were eventually checked when it was discovered that weapons made of dragonglass (obsidian) could kill them. A great hero, who in the eastern tradition is known as Azor Ahai, led the war against the Others wielding his sword of fire, Lightbringer. Eventually the Others were driven back into the Lands of Always Winter. Brandon Stark, known as Bran the Builder, raised a great Wall of ice, gravel and magic, stretching one hundred leagues from the Gorge to the Shivering Sea to prevent the Others coming again. Brandon Stark was declared the First King in the North. The fortress of Winterfell (and possibly Storm's End in the south) was built at this time, and the Night's Watch founded to maintain a watch on the Wall. A later prophecy claimed that the Others would return and Azor Ahai, the Prince that was Promised, would be reborn to lead the fight against them.