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Island and Castle
Dragonstone, as depicted by Philip Straub in The World of Ice and Fire
Location Westeros, Crownlands, Blackwater Bay.
Government House Baratheon of Dragonstone , Feudal Lord.
Religion Faith of the Seven (former), R'hllor
Founded 500 years ago, by the Valyrians
For the hill in the Dothraki sea, see Dragonstone (hill).
The crownlands and the location of Dragonstone
The crownlands and the location of Dragonstone

Dragonstone is the name of the island located at the entrance to Blackwater Bay and the castle thereon, which was shaped from stone to look like dragons. Dragonstone was the original seat of House Targaryen in Westeros, which had been colonized and fortified as the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold.

After the Targaryen conquest of the Seven Kingdoms, the island in the newly created crownlands served as the seat of their heir apparent, known as the Prince of Dragonstone. After Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens, he gave the island to his brother Stannis, creating House Baratheon of Dragonstone. The castle has a dark reputation.[1] The maesters on Dragonstone are Cressen and Pylos.[2]

Island of Dragonstone

Dragonstone is a volcanic island at the mouth of Blackwater Bay, created by the active volcano, Dragonmont. The island is damp and dreary.[3] The castle of Dragonstone is a small fortress located on the face of the volcano. Outside its walls sits a small fishing village on the stormy coast. Beneath Dragonmont are rich deposits of dragonglass. There is much obsidian seen in the old tunnels beneath the mountain, found in chunks and boulders. The greater part of it is black, but there is some green obsidian as well, some red, even purple.[4]

Through the dalliances of many Targaryen lords and princes over the years, many of the smallfolk of the island are descendants of that dynasty, and are known as dragonseeds.

Dragonstone, though old and strong, commands the allegiance of only a few lesser lords whose islands are too thinly populated to provide any great numbers of troops, although they have some naval strength. A short distance west of Dragonstone is the island of Driftmark, which is the seat of House Velaryon, a Valyrian house and historically a naval power. Other houses sworn to Dragonstone include Celtigar of Claw Isle, who are also of Valyrian descent, Seaworth of Cape Wrath, Bar Emmon of Sharp Point, and Sunglass of Sweetport Sound.[5] At least two members of House Blackberry serve at Dragonstone.[6][7]

Castle of Dragonstone

See also: Images of Dragonstone
Maester Cressen on his balcony. © Fantasy Flight Games
Dragonstone watchtower
© Fantasy Flight Games

The ancient fortress of Dragonstone was built using advanced Valyrian techniques of masonry that were lost in the Doom, causing it to look unique among all the castles in Westeros. The citadel of Dragonstone is wrought all of black stone (the "stones of hell", if the old tales are true[6]), its towers carved into the shapes of dragons, and 1,000 gargoyles carved into various shapes serve as brooding crenellations along the three curtain walls.[8][6] When Maester Cressen first came to Dragonstone the army of grotesques had made him uneasy, but as the years passed he grew used to them, and in his old age he came to think of the 12-foot-tall hellhound and wyvern on his windswept balcony as old friends.

The design of the castle is very dragon-oriented. Small dragons frame gates and dragon claws hold torches. A pair of great wings cover the armory and smithy, and tails form archways and staircases.[9]

  • The Stone Drum is the central keep of Dragonstone, named as such because of the booming sound made by the powerful winds during storms. Cells in the dungeons beneath the citadel are warmer than they ought to be, but as dank as one might expect for an isle such as Dragonstone. It is said that there are shafts and secret stairs leading further below into the heart of the Dragonmont. The Stone Drum is connected to the dungeon tower by a high stone bridge that arches over emptiness.[8]
  • The Chamber of the Painted Table, located on the top floor of the Stone Drum, is a round room, with four tall windows, overlooking the north, south, east and west. It holds a large table, carved and painted in the form of a detailed map of Westeros. Here, Aegon the Conqueror planned for the invasion of Westeros.[10] The Painted Table is more than fifty feet long: roughly twenty-five feet wide at its widest point and four feet at its thinnest. At the precise location of Dragonstone is a raised seat that allows the occupant to view the entire map.[8]
  • The Great Hall is carved in the shape of a huge dragon lying on its belly; its doors are set in the mouth and those entering pass through its mouth. The kitchens resemble a curled up dragon where the smoke and heat vented through its nostrils.[9]
  • Aegon's Garden is a garden near the arch of the Dragon's Tail. Within its confines grow tall trees on every side, as well as wild roses. Cranberries grow in a boggy spot.[6] Aegon's Garden has a pleasant pine scent.
  • Windwyrm is one of the towers of Dragonstone. It is shaped like a dragon and arches into the sky, screaming defiantly.[9]
  • Sea Dragon Tower is shaped like a dragon at peace, facing the sea. The maester's chambers lie in this tower, below the rookery. The stairs of the tower are narrow and twisting.[9] Going down the stairs of the Sea Dragon Tower, one must then cross the gallery, pass through both the middle and inner walls with their gargoyles and black iron gates, and climb even more steps to reach the Chamber of the Painted Table.
  • The sept contains carved statues of the seven aspects of the Faith of the Seven's god. The Crone has pearl eyes, the Father a gilded beard, and the Stranger looks more animal than human. They had been carved from the masts of the ships that carried the first Targaryens to Dragonstone, and many layers of paint and varnish had been applied to them over the centuries. The sept has several altars and stained glass as well.[11] It is said that Aegon the Conqueror knelt to pray in Dragonstone's sept the night before he sailed to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. This may be apocryphal, as Aegon only publicly converted when he reached Oldtown during his invasion - the sept could have been constructed after that fact.


House Targaryen colonization

Aegon's Painted Table by Kim Pope

Two centuries before the Doom, Valyrians took possession of the island and built a castle upon it, which became the westernmost outpost of the Valyrian Freehold.[12] The castle towers were shaped by Valyrian magic to look like dragons, giving it the name Dragonstone.

Twelve years prior to the Doom, Aenar Targaryen, the head of House Targaryen, relocated his family, their five dragons, and all their wealth to Dragonstone, because of the visions of his maiden daughter Daenys.[12] In Valyria their rivals saw the Targaryen flight to bleak Dragonstone as an act of cowardly surrender.[13] Four of the dragons brought from Valyria eventually died on Dragonstone, leaving only Balerion. However, two ‎eggs hatched and Vhagar and Meraxes were born.

The Targaryen Lords of Dragonstone were:[14]

War of Conquest

Main article: War of Conquest

In 2 BC, Lord Aegon Targaryen launched his invasion of the continent Westeros, conquering six of the Seven Kingdoms (Dorne alone was able to resist the Targaryen armies). The Targaryens of Dragonstone were supported by the nearby Velaryons of Driftmark and Celtigars of Claw Isle, both of whom were also of Valyrian origin.[13]

Aegon established his new seat, the Aegonfort, where he first made landfall at the mouth of the Blackwater Rush. The city of King's Landing eventually formed around it. In time, the Aegonfort was torn down and replaced by the Red Keep. King's Landing itself became the capital of the Seven Kingdoms and Dragonstone became the seat of the heir apparent to the Iron Throne, who was styled as the "Prince of Dragonstone" (or, in the cases of a female heir, the "Princess of Dragonstone").

Dance of the Dragons

Main article: Dance of the Dragons

In 129 AC, at the death of King Viserys I Targaryen, his proclaimed heir, Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, was eight months pregnant and confined on Dragonstone, awaiting the birth of her sixth child. Rhaenyra's half-brother, Prince Aegon, claimed the throne for himself, and with the help of the so-called "greens", was crowned King Aegon II Targaryen, with his sister-wife Helaena Targaryen as his queen. Princess Rhaenyra, upon learning of her father's death and her half-brother's coronation, went into a black fury, which caused a premature labor. Rhaenyra, after three days of labor, delivered a stillborn daughter, Visenya.[15]

Rhaenyra, once recovered, was crowned queen by her husband and uncle, Prince Daemon Targaryen. She declared war on her brother, beginning the Dance of the Dragons, the first civil war of the Targaryen dynasty. The war lasted about two and a half years, and saw the deaths of many members of House Targaryen, including the deaths of both claimants, Rhaenyra and Aegon II, as well as most of the dragons who had lived during the Targaryen dynasty. The war saw many major battles, and saw King's Landing change hands on several occasions, as well as multiple claimants arising, some for a fortnight, some for a moon's turn.[15]

The Dance ended in 131 AC, after the death of King Aegon II, with the marriage of Rhaenyra's eldest surviving son, a prince also named Aegon, to Aegon II's only surviving child, Princess Jaehaera Targaryen. Rhaenyra's Aegon was crowned as King Aegon III Targaryen.

War of the Usurper

Dragonstone castle in Game of Thrones

Main article: Robert's Rebellion

When Prince Rhaegar Targaryen disappeared with Lady Lyanna Stark, Lyanna's brother Brandon went to King's Landing and was arrested for high treason by King Aerys II Targaryen. For a trial, Brandon's father, Lord Rickard Stark, was summoned to King's Landing, but instead of the trial by combat that Rickard had requested, Rickard and Brandon were both executed. Afterwards, the paranoid king demanded the heads of Robert Baratheon, the Lord of Storm's End betrothed to Lyanna, and Eddard Stark, Lyanna's second brother, and now the new Lord of Winterfell. As both men were at the Eyrie, the demand was send to Lord Jon Arryn. He refused, however, and raised his banners in revolt.

The rebellion lasted "close to a year". The most decisive battle was the Battle of the Trident, where the royalist army met with the rebel army. Prince Rhaegar was killed in the battle by Robert Baratheon. The Targaryen army broke and ran at Rhaegar's death, and Eddard Stark marched his army to King's Landing, planning on besieging the city.

News of Rhaegar's death reached King's Landing before any army could, and King Aerys II decided to send his sister-wife, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, and his only surviving child, Prince Viserys Targaryen, to the ancient Targaryen stronghold, Dragonstone. Aerys kept his daughter-in-law, Princess Elia Martell, and Rhaegar's two children by her, Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon, with him in King's Landing.

After Rhaella and Viserys had fled, the army of House Lannister attacked the city, leading to the deaths of King Aerys II Targaryen, Prince Aegon Targaryen, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, and Princess Elia Martell in the Sack of King's Landing. This caused Rhaella and Viserys to be the only Targaryens remaining.

During their time on Dragonstone, Dowager Queen Rhaella came to realise she was pregnant. Nine moons after the flight from King's Landing, Rhaella gave birth to Princess Daenerys Targaryen, while a summer storm was raging. The Targaryen fleet, which had been anchored before Dragonstone, was smashed, and huge stone blocks were ripped from the parapets and sent hurtling into the wild waters of the narrow sea.

The new king, Robert I Baratheon tasked his brother, Stannis, with building a new fleet to take Dragonstone. With the Targaryen fleet destroyed and Queen Rhaella dead, Dragonstone's garrison was prepared to sell Viserys and Daenerys to Robert. Just before Stannis prepared to sail to Dragonstone, Ser Willem Darry and four loyal men broke into the nursery one night and stole the two children, the last scions of House Targaryen, and fled with a wet nurse, setting sail under cover of darkness for the safety of the Braavosian coast. Stannis commanded the successful Baratheon assault on Dragonstone.

Baratheon Dynasty

Stannis, brooding on Dragonstone

After the War of the Usurper ended, the castle passed to Stannis Baratheon, who became Lord of Dragonstone. Stannis resented the castle because its lands were far poorer than those of Storm's End, which he felt was his due as heir of House Baratheon, but King Robert I had granted that castle to their younger brother, Renly. Robert felt a strong leader should be placed in the old Targaryen seat, and its occupant was traditionally the heir to the Iron Throne. However, Robert was also angered that the Targaryen children had escaped to Essos, and Stannis considered Dragonstone to be an insult.

Years later Stannis is still brooding and has not forgotten or forgiven Robert for not giving him his due, and says so to old Maester Cressen:

I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it. I took it because Robert’s enemies were here and he commanded me to root them out. I built his fleet and did his work, dutifully as a younger brother should be to an elder, as Renly should be to me. And what was Robert’s thanks? He names me Lord of Dragonstone, and gives Storm's End and its incomes to Renly. Storm’s End belonged to House Baratheon for three hundred years; by rights it should have passed to me when Robert took the Iron Throne.[16]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Stannis Baratheon, Lord of Dragonstone, returns to his seat from King's Landing shortly after King Robert I Baratheon travels north to offer the Hand of the King to Lord Eddard Stark.[17] According to Varys, Stannis is being aided by a shadowbinder from Asshai.[18]

A Clash of Kings

During the War of the Five Kings, the poor lands of Dragonstone give King Stannis few supporters for his claim to the Iron Throne. For the past half-year no craft that has come within sight of Dragonstone has been allowed to leave again. The castle's maester, Cressen, is killed during his attempt to poison Melisandre.[16] Queen's men sack the sept and Melisandre burns the statues of the Seven.[11]

After his defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater, Stannis retreats to Dragonstone with less than 1,300 swords and a token fleet in order to plot his next move.

A Storm of Swords

Ser Davos Seaworth is imprisoned for plotting to kill Melisandre,[6] but is eventually freed by Stannis.[10]

Davos secretly smuggles Edric Storm from the castle against the wishes of Stannis. In his defence Davos tells Stannis that a king has a duty to his people, and reads a recent letter from the Night's Watch explaining the desperate situation the men of the Night's Watch are in.[7]

Stannis Baratheon and his forces leave Dragonstone to defend Castle Black and the Wall.[19] Ser Rolland Storm, the Bastard of Nightsong, is made castellan of the castle in the absence of Stannis.

At the Wall King Stannis sends word to Ser Rolland on Dragonstone to begin mining obsidian. Stannis fears he will not hold his seat much longer but hopes that the Lord of Light shall grant them enough frozen fire to arm themselves against the Others before the Dragonstone falls.[4]

A Feast for Crows

Forces loyal to King Tommen I Baratheon commanded by Lord Paxter Redwyne lay siege to the island.[20] In the absence of Stannis, the garrison of Dragonstone is led by Ser Rolland Storm. Lord Aurane Waters reports to Queen Cersei Lannister that Ser Loras Tyrell of the Kingsguard took command and stormed the castle, taking it at a heavy cost to himself and his forces. Cersei believes Aurane wants Dragonstone for himself, but she considers Rosby to be more suitable for Lord Waters.[10]

A Dance with Dragons

Lord Mace Tyrell tells Ser Harys Swyft that Loras's men found no wealth on Dragonstone.[3]

Chapters that take place at Dragonstone


Dragonstone was grim beyond a doubt, a lonely citadel in the wet waste surrounded by storm and salt, with the smoking shadow of the mountain at its back.[16]
- thoughts of Cressen

I never asked for Dragonstone. I never wanted it.[16]
- Stannis Baratheon to Cressen

The dragons are done. The Targaryens tried to bring them back half a dozen times. And made fools of themselves, or corpses. Patchface is the only fool we need on this godsforsaken rock.[10]
- Stannis Baratheon to Melisandre

A place of dragons and dragonlords, the seat of House Targaryen.[9]
- thoughts of Davos Seaworth

The Valyrians had raised it, after all, and all their works stank of sorcery.[3]

- thoughts of Kevan Lannister

If you look at how the citadel of Dragonstone was built and how in some of its structures the stone was shaped in some fashion with magic... yes, it's safe to say that there's something of Valyrian magic still present.[21]
- George R. R. Martin

References and Notes

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