From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Castle, de jure Regional Capital
Artwork by MarcSimonetti ©
|Government||House Baelish , Feudal Lord.|
|Religion||Faith of the Seven|
|Founded||300 years ago, just before the War of Conquest.|
|Named for||King Harren Hoare, its founder|
|Notable places||Its gigantic five towers|
Harrenhal is the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms and is the seat of House Whent in the Riverlands, on the north shore of the Gods Eye lake. Since the War of Conquest, however, it has become a dark and ruinous place.
The castle has five towers of dizzying size, with equally monstrous curtain walls. The walls are incredibly thick and its rooms are built on a scale that would be more comfortable for giants than humans. The castle's holdings are some of the richest in Westeros, claiming vast tracts of green fertile land.
Harrenhal covers three times as much ground as Winterfell and its buildings are so much larger that they can scarcely be compared. Its stables can house a thousand horses, its godswood covers twenty acres, and its kitchens are as large as Winterfell's Great Hall.
However, much of Harrenhal has far gone into decay. The Whents use only the lower thirds of two of the five towers, letting the rest go to ruin, and many places in the castle have not been entered in decades. Bats infest the tops of some of the towers.
Walls and Towers
Harrenhal is built on a gigantic scale; its colossal curtain walls are sheer and high as mountain cliffs while atop the battlements the wood-and-iron scorpions seem as small as their namesakes when seen from the ground. Harrenhal's gatehouse is as large as Winterfell's great keep, and its stone is discolored and fissured. From outside the gatehouse, only the tops of five immense towers can be seen because the height of the walls obscure the view of them.
Of the castle's five towers, the shortest is half again as high as the tallest one in Winterfell, yet none of the towers are proper, being bent, lumped, and cracked from the melting of the stone by the Targaryen dragons centuries earlier. Their original names were lost with the death of Harren the Black.
The Five Towers:
- Tower of Dread
- Widow's Tower connects to the Kingspyre Tower via a stone bridge. Underneath there is a great cell that is used to keep prisoners.
- Wailing Tower contains storerooms on the ground floor and cavernous vaults beneath.
- Tower of Ghosts is near the postern gate and the ruined sept.
- Kingspyre Tower contains the castellan's chambers. It connects to the Widow's Tower via a stone bridge.
- The Main Gate has walls so thick that no less than a dozen murder holes are passed before one reaches the yard on the other side.
- The East Gate is smaller than the Main Gate and is located near the Tower of Ghosts.
- The Hall of the Hundred Hearths is the castle's great hall. It has only thirty-four or thirty-five hearths, but is said to be able to entertain an army. Its floors are smooth slate and there are steps to two galleries above.
- The Kitchens are located in a round stone building with a domed roof containing nothing but kitchens. The kitchens are as large as Winterfell's Great Hall.
- The Barracks Hall above the armory is where the men-at-arms take their meals.
- The Armory is located below the Barracks Hall and contains the forge.
- The Godswood is walled over twenty acres. It has a small stream running through it. The heart tree appears to have a terrible visage full of hatred, with a twisted mouth and flaring eyes. It is located across the ward from where the Barracks Hall and the Armory are. The heart tree has 13 deep marks carved into it dating to 130AL when Daemon battled Aemond in the Dance of the Dragons. These marks still bleed every spring.
- Flowstone Yard is where men-at-arms exercise and drill and squires clean arms and armor. It has a lumpy surface and is located near the Wailing Tower. There is a covered gallery above the Flowstone Yard with arches looking towards it. 
- The Bear Pit is ten yards across and five yards across, walled in stone, floored with sand, and encircled by six tiers of marble benches. It is located in the middle ward.
- The Bathhouse is a low-ceilinged room filled with great stone tubs large enough to hold six or seven after the fashion of the Free Cities. The Bathhouse is made of stone and timber, with only one entrance to the room.
Harren the Black
The construction of his dream took forty years. Thousands of captives from the other realms died in the quarries chained to sledges or laboring on the five huge towers. Men froze by winter and sweltered in summer. Weirwoods that had stood three thousand years were cut down to provide rafters and beams. Harren beggared the Riverlands and the Iron Islands alike to ornament his dream.
Upon its completion, Harren boasted that his new fortress was impregnable. However, he did not account for Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons invading Westeros. On the very day Harren took up residence, Aegon came ashore at what would become King's Landing. The dragons were not obstructed by high walls and forbidding towers and roasted Harren alive in the tallest of the towers, now known as the Kingspyre. Harren and all his line perished. Due to the extreme heat of dragonflame, the castle took on a charred, melted appearance.
After the War of Conquest
Since the Conquest, the castle became something of a white elephant. It is too big to garrison effectively and too expensive to maintain. Since Harren's death, the castle has passed through a number of noble houses, including Houses Qoherys, Towers, Harroway, Strong, and Lothston. Every one of them met with misfortune. It is believed the castle is cursed and haunted due to Harren's hubris and the horrors that have occurred within the castle's walls. Harren allegedly mixed human blood into the mortar for the stonework. The curse is thought to prevent any lord from holding Harrenhal indefinitely.
The Dance of the Dragons
Prince Daemon Targaryen took Harrenhal from Ser Simon Strong early in the Dance of the Dragons and used it as a base for the blacks to launch attacks in the nearby area. Prince Aemond Targaryen and Ser Criston Cole led an army of greens to retake the great castle, but found it abandoned by the blacks when they arrived. After the Battle by the Lakeshore, Criston led his soldiers south along the Gods Eye. Aemond rode Vhagar and ravaged the Riverlands, including burning all wooden structures in Harrenhal. Daemon and Aemond later fought above Harrenhal and the Gods Eye in a duel which killed both princes and their dragons, Caraxes and Vhagar, although Daemon's body was never found.
Tourney at Harrenhal
House Whent hosted the Tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AL. The famous tourney resulted in the crowning of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen as its champion, and is also noted for the participation of the mysterious Knight of the Laughing Tree. Ser Jaime Lannister was named to King Aerys II's Kingsguard during the tourney.
A Game of Thrones
During the early stages of the War of the Five Kings, Lady Shella Whent yields Harrenhal to Lord Tywin Lannister, who holds it with his own troops. Queen Cersei grants the castle to Janos Slynt in return for his service.
A Clash of Kings
The castle is seized several times throughout the War of the Five Kings and harbors a number of atrocities. Tywin Lannister's garrison include bannermen lead by Ser Amory Lorch and Ser Gregor Clegane. They are bolstered by the Brave Companions mercenary company. The men treat the smallfolk of the castle cruelly. Amory's men and the Brave Companions feud, resulting in more deaths.
Tywin departs, leaving Amory as castellan. Arya Stark, who had been hiding at the castle, convinces Jaqen H'ghar to help her free the castle's northern prisoners and revolt against the Lannisters. The Brave Companions butcher the Lannister bannermen and all who are loyal to them, then hand the castle to Lord Roose Bolton. Amory is killed within the bearpit for entertainment. Arya serves Roose incognito as his cupbearer.
Following the Battle of the Blackwater, King Joffrey Baratheon awards Harrenhal to Petyr Baelish for his role in securing an alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells through the engagement of Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell. Petyr is also named Lord Paramount of the Trident, making Harrenhal the new seat of the Riverlands in place of Riverrun. However, the castle remains occupied by Roose Bolton's northern force.
A Storm of Swords
Roose Bolton rules over Harrenhal for only a short time. Vargo Hoat of the Brave Companions suspects that Roose will switch sides to the Lannisters, and maims his captive, Ser Jaime Lannister, in an attempt to prevent this. The ruse fails and the northerners abandon Harrenhal, leaving it to the Brave Companions.
With Lannister reprisal dangling over their heads, the Companions indulge in wanton sadism and keep the castle's bearpit well-stocked with victims. Eventually, Ser Gregor Clegane's men return to the castle and butcher the mercenaries who had not already fled, including Vargo Hoat. Gregor departs to King's Landing to participate in the trial-by-combat of Tyrion Lannister, but leaves a garrison in the castle.
Though he has never set foot within Harrenhal's walls, Petyr Baelish remains its lord. The castle's large dominion elevates Petyr's social position enough to marry Lysa Tully, the Lady Regent of the Vale of Arryn.
A Feast for Crows
Jaime Lannister returns to take control and learns it is leaderless. Gregor had appointed Polliver as its castellan, but Polliver was killed by Sandor Clegane at the Inn at the Crossroads. Jaime clears out Gregor's men and replaces the garrison with the pious regiment known as the Holy Hundred. Their leader, Ser Bonifer Hasty, is named castellan in an attempt to bring peace to Harrenhal.
Harrenhal's reputation for a curse may be justified. Many Houses and individuals who have held Harrenhal have eventually come to bad ends.
Houses to have held Harrenhal
- House Qoherys
- House Towers
- House Harroway
- House Strong
- House Lothston
- House Whent
- House Slynt
- House Baelish
Individuals who have held Harrenhal since 298 AL
- Shella Whent last of House Whent. Died at the beginning of Winter.
- Janos Slynt made Lord of Harrenhal, stripped of title and sent to the Wall where he was later executed.
- Tywin Lannister later slain by a crossbow while seated on a Privy.
- Amory Lorch named Castellan. Was fed to a Bear.
- Roose Bolton, held Harrenhal for a short time. Though nothing ill has befallen him yet, he did hold the castle for a short time.
- Vargo Hoat was eventually tortured to death.
- Gregor Clegane died of a poison spear thrust.
- Polliver named Castellan eventually killed by Sandor Clegane.
- Petyr Baelish named Lord of Harrenhal.
- Bonifer Hasty named new Castellan of Harrenhal by Jaime Lannister.
|“||And King Harren learned that thick walls and high towers are small use against dragons. For dragons fly.||”|
|“||Ah, and what a castle it is. Cavernous halls and ruined towers, ghosts and draughts, ruinous to heat, impossible to garrison . . . and there’s that small matter of a curse.||”|
|“||Harrenhal had witnessed more horror in it's three hundred years than Casterly Rock had witnessed in three thousand.||”|
|“||"Every man who holds this castle seems to come to a bad end. The Mountain, the Goat, even my father ..."||”|
Chapters that take place at Harrenhal
- A Clash of Kings: 26. Arya VI
- A Clash of Kings: 30. Arya VII
- A Clash of Kings: 38. Arya VIII
- A Clash of Kings: 47. Arya IX
- A Clash of Kings: 64. Arya X
- A Storm of Swords: 31. Jaime IV
- A Storm of Swords: 37. Jaime V
- A Storm of Swords: 44. Jaime VI
- A Feast for Crows: 27. Jaime III
References and Notes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 The Princess and the Queen
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne.
- ↑ A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime.
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