Harrenhal

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Harrenhal
Lino Drieghe Harrenhal.jpg
Harrenhal, on the north shore of the Gods Eye lake. By Lino Drieghe. © FFG
Location Riverlands, Westeros
Government House Baelish , Feudal lord.
Religion Faith of the Seven
Founded 2 BC
Named for King Harren Hoare, its founder
Notable places Kingspyre Tower, Tower of Dread, Tower of Ghosts, Wailing Tower, Widow's Tower
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal
Harrenhal
The riverlands and the location of Harrenhal

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's holdings are some of the richest in Westeros, claiming vast tracts of green fertile land[1][2] which reach as far as the hills of House Wode near the crownlands.[3] Harrentown is found near Harrenhal.[4]

Layout

See also: Images of Harrenhal

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.[5]

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.[5] When it was built it could have potentially garrisoned a million men.[Citation Needed]

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.[5]

Walls and Towers

Artwork by Marc Simonetti ©
Harrenhal in Game of Thrones

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 during the burning of Harrenhal by the Targaryen dragons three centuries earlier. Their original names were lost with the death of Harren the Black.[5]

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.

Known Gates:

  • 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.

Misc

  • 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.[5] 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.[5]
  • The Barracks Hall above the armory is where the men-at-arms take their meals.[5]
  • 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 weirwood 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 thirteen deep marks carved into it dating to 130 AC when Daemon Targaryen battled Aemond Targaryen 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. [5][6]
  • 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.[6] 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.[7] The bathhouse is made of stone and timber, with only one entrance to the room.[8]

History

House Hoare

Balerion destroys Harrenhal
art by Marc Simonett
Harrenhall by Cris Urdiales ©

The seat of King Halleck Hoare, Harren the Black's father, was a modest tower house at Fairmarket.[9] Harren, King of the Isles and the Rivers, built Harrenhal as a monument to himself, intending it to be the greatest of all castles in Westeros and for it to dwarf any other.[10]

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.[10]

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 in the burning of Harrenhal. Due to the extreme heat of dragonflame, the castle took on a charred, melted appearance.[10]

Since the Conquest, the castle became something of a white elephant. It is too big to garrison effectively and too expensive to maintain. It is believed by some that 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.[8] The curse is thought to prevent any lord from holding Harrenhal indefinitely.[11]

House Qoherys

King Aegon I Targaryen granted Harrenhal to Quenton Qoherys, although Lord Edmyn Tully of Riverrun was named Lord Paramount of the Trident.[2] House Qoherys died out during the reign of King Aenys I Targaryen, however, when Lord Gargon the Guest was slain during Harren the Red's rebellion.[12]

House Harroway

Lord Lucas Harroway succeeded Gargon as Lord of Harrenhal, and House Harroway helped to defeat Prince Aegon Targaryen in the Battle Beneath the Gods Eye. The Harroways were extinguished by King Maegor I Targaryen in 44 AC, however.[13]

House Towers

Ser Walton Towers was named the new Lord of Harrenhal after a melee announced by Maegor. House Towers died out two generations later.[14]

House Strong

Harrenhal was granted to Lyonel Strong while Jaehaerys I Targaryen sat the Iron Throne.[14] The Great Council of 101, in which Prince Viserys was chosen as the Old King's successor, was held at Harrenhal.[15]

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.[15]

Lord Lyonel and his heir Harwin died in a fire at Harrenhal in 120 AC. The fire was blamed on the curse of Harrenhal, although non-mystical suspects included Prince Daemon Targaryen, Lord Corlys Velaryon, Lyonel's younger son Larys Strong, and even King Viserys I Targaryen.[16] Lord Larys Strong was executed during the Hour of the Wolf in 131 AC, ending House Strong.[14]

House Lothston

King Aegon III Targaryen gave the ruined castle to Ser Lucas Lothston in 151 AC. House Lothston was involved in the First Blackfyre Rebellion[17] and helped to suppress the Second Blackfyre Rebellion with the might of Harrenhal.[18] The Lothstons were cast down during the reign of Maekar I Targaryen, however, as Lady Danelle Lothston descended into madness.[14]

House Whent

House Whent, originally knights sworn to Harrenhal, became lords of the castle for their part in defeating the Lothstons.[14]

Lord Walter Whent hosted a great tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC. 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 Targaryen's Kingsguard during the tourney.[19] The Whents have been noted for their own tragedies.[14]

Recent Events

Arya in Harrenhal. © FFG

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

Tywin's son Tyrion Lannister, acting as Hand in King's Landing as Tywin is still in the field, revokes Janos Slynt's title of Lord of Harrenhal and sends him to the Wall.

Tywin'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. Three dozen prisoners from the Battle of the Green Fork are kept prisoner in the Tower of Dread; six Freys are ransomed, but northern prisoners remain. The wounded Lord Medger Cerwyn dies in captivity.[5]

Tywin departs Harrenhal, leaving Amory as castellan.[20] Ser Edmure Tully tasks Lord Roose Bolton and Ser Helman Tallhart with taking Harrenhal for Robb Stark, King in the North, so that Tywin can be blocked by Riverrun, the Red Fork, and Harrenhal.[21]

A new group of northern prisoners, including Robett Glover, are brought to Harrenhal by the Brave Companions. Arya Stark, who had been hiding at the castle, convinces Jaqen H'ghar to help her free the prisoners and revolt against Amory's Lannisters. At the same time, the Brave Companions butcher the Lannister bannermen and all who are loyal to them, then hand the castle to Lord Bolton. Amory is killed within the bear pit for entertainment. Arya serves Roose incognito as his cupbearer.[22][23]

Following the Battle of the Blackwater, King Joffrey I 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.[24]

However, Harrenhal remains occupied by Roose Bolton's northern force. Arya flees the castle when she learns Roose intends to grant the castle to Vargo Hoat, the leader of the Brave Companions.[23]

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, Tywin's other son Ser Jaime, 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 bear pit well-stocked with victims. Eventually, the Mountain's men return to the castle and butcher the mercenaries who have 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 widowed-Lady Regent of the Vale of Arryn.

A Feast for Crows

It is reported that Harrenhal's former lady, Shella Whent, has died, as has Gregor Clegane.

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.

Curse

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

Individuals who have held Harrenhal since 298 AC

  • Shella Whent last of House Whent. Died at the beginning of winter, under as of yet unknown circumstances.
  • Janos Slynt, made Lord of Harrenhal. Stripped of title a short while later and sent to the Wall where he was later executed.
  • Tywin Lannister, took possession of Harrenhal shortly. Later slain by a crossbow while seated on a privy.
  • Amory Lorch, named castellan. 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, eventually tortured to death.
  • Gregor Clegane, died of a poisoned spear thrust.
  • Polliver, named castellan. Eventually killed by Sandor Clegane.
  • Petyr Baelish, named Lord of Harrenhal. So far, nothing ill has befallen him.
  • Bonifer Hasty, named new castellan of Harrenhal by Jaime Lannister. So far, nothing ill has befallen him.

Quotes

And King Harren learned that thick walls and high towers are small use against dragons. For dragons fly.[10]
- Old Nan to Catelyn Tully's children


That is an ill place. Cursed, they say. Not that I am the sort to swallow such tales, but still, there it is.[25]
- Wyman Manderly to Rodrik Cassel


Alayne: The castle is yours.

Petyr: 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.[11]

- Alayne Stone and Petyr Baelish


Harrenhal had witnessed more horror in its three hundred years than Casterly Rock had witnessed in three thousand.[3]
- thoughts of Jaime Lannister


Jaime: This castle has an ill repute, and one that's well deserved. It's said that Harren and his sons still walk the halls by night, afire. Those who look upon them burst into flame.

Bonifer: I fear no shade, ser. It is written in The Seven-Pointed Star that spirits, wights, and revenants cannot harm a pious man, so long as he is armored in his faith.
Jaime: Then armor yourself in faith, by all means, but wear a suit of mail and plate as well. Every man who holds this castle seems to come to a bad end. The Mountain, the Goat, even my father ...[3]

- Jaime Lannister and Bonifer Hasty

Chapters that take place at Harrenhal

References and Notes

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Strongholds of A Song of Ice and Fire. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Strongholds of A Song of Ice and Fire. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire - A Song of Ice and Fire & Game of Thrones, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.


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