Great elk

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A great elk is Coldhands' mount - Art by Zippo514 ©

The great elk is a large species of deer.


Great elks can reach heights of ten feet at the shoulder. Their antlers may span nearly the same width.[1] The adult males emit sounds similar to those of trumpets.[2]


The great elk inhabits northernmost forests in both Westeros and northwestern Essos. In Westeros they are found in the Haunted Forest in the lands beyond the Wall,[1][2] while in Essos they dwell in the Forest of Qohor.[3]

Recent events

A Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen sees great elks during her journey through the Forest of Qohor.[3]

A Storm of Swords

Coldhands rides atop a great elk when he saves Samwell Tarly and Gilly from wights.[1] Both Sam and Gilly ride the elk during their journey to the Nightfort.[4]

Seconds before reuniting with Ghost, Jon Snow hungers for the flesh of a great elk, which makes him realize his direwolf is nearby.[5]

A Dance with Dragons

After failing to inhabit the body of Thistle, the spirit of Varamyr enters a portion of the Haunted Forest and senses a great elk trumpeting, which unsettles the children of the forest clinging to his back.[2]

Astride his great elk, Coldhands leads the party of Bran Stark, Jojen Reed, Meera Reed and Hodor to the cave of the three-eyed crow.[6]

Behind the Scenes

The great elk of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels appears to be based on the Megaloceros giganteus, also known as Irish elk, giant deer or Irish deer, a extinct genus of deer.