Skagos is a large island in the mouth of the Bay of Seals. In theory, the island is part of the north and subject to House Stark of Winterfell. However, the island has little contact with mainland Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms, and in practice they rule themselves. The island's name means "stone" in the Old Tongue.
Maester Balder's The Edge of the World is the largest collection of tales regarding the island. It is believed that unicorns live on Skagos. The island has a dread reputation; even the hardened sailor Roro Uhoris feared to go there.
Skagos is mountainous and forbidding with rough and treacherous currents around the isle. Sailing is hazardous, especially during autumn storms when the cold can freeze ropes and sails. The nearby waters have rich fishing grounds.
The Skagosi or Skagossons call themselves the stoneborn, as skagos means "stone" in the Old Tongue. They are an isolated people descended from the First Men. Because of their size and smell, some maesters believe the hairy Skagosi have a strong admixture of Ibbenese blood, whereas others suggest they may be partially descended from giants. The Skagosi are said to live in caves or mountain fastnesses. Traders claim the lords of stoneborn clans ride shaggy unicorns.
The people of Skagos are generally despised by the rest of the northmen, who derisively call them "Skaggs". They regard Skagosi as little more than tribes of raiders and savages, not dissimilar to wildlings. They are considered a backward folk, rumored to still perform human sacrifices to weirwoods, lure passing ships to destruction with false lights, and engage in cannibalism during winter.
When they trade with outsiders, Skagosi offer pelts, obsidian blades and arrowheads, and unicorn horns. According to Lord Roose Bolton, the inhabitants of Skagos still continue the banned tradition of the first night.
According to The Edge of the World by Maester Balder, in ancient days men of Skagos sailed to the nearby island Skane, seizing all the women, killing all the men, and feasting on their flesh for a fortnight. The smaller isle has reportedly been uninhabited since the Feast of Skane. Some attribute the destruction of Hardhome to cannibals from Skagos.
The people of Skagos tended to cross the Bay of Seals to trade and raid on the mainland until Brandon IX Stark, King in the North, broke their power, destroying their ships and forbidding them the sea. It is not known when Skagos ultimately became subject to the supremacy of Winterfell, but they rose in rebellion against House Stark during the rule of King Daeron II Targaryen. The rebellion lasted for years and claimed the lives of thousands, among them Lord Barthogan Stark, before being put down.
Some Skagosi have served in the Night's Watch over the past millennia. A Crowl was Lord Commander over a thousand years ago, and, according to the Annals of the Black Centaur, a Stane served as First Ranger for a brief time.
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords
A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The galleys Oledo and Old Mother's Son are driven onto the rocks of Skagos after setting sail from the Wall. Cotter Pyke writes that Storm Crow spotted the wreckage of a galley along the coast of the island.
Dareon: If the gods are good, we may catch a glimpse of a unicorn.
Samwell: If the captain is good, we won't come that close. The currents are treacherous around Skagos, and there are rocks that can crack a ship's hull like an egg.
For half a heartbeat Davos considered asking Wyman Manderly to send him back to the Wolf's Den, to Ser Bartimus with his tales and Garth with his lethal ladies. In the Den even prisoners ate porridge in the morning. But there were other places in this world where men were known to break their fast on human flesh.—thoughts of Davos Seaworth
The maesters will tell you that King Jaehaerys abolished the lord's right to the first night to appease his shrewish queen, but where the old gods rule, old customs linger. The Umbers keep the first night too, deny it as they may. Certain of the mountain clans as well, and on Skagos ... well, only heart trees ever see half of what they do on Skagos.
- So Spake Martin: The Drowned God and More, July 14, 1999
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 15, Samwell II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, Westeros.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Shivering Sea.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 48, Jon VI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 32, Reek III.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 17, Jon IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Wall and Beyond: The Wildlings.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 51, Jon VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 21, Jon V.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
- George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Rickon Stark.