Harrenhal, on the north shore of the Gods Eye, by Lino Drieghe © FFG
House Whent (dispossessed)|
House Slynt (dispossessed)
House Baelish , feudal lord.
|Religion||Faith of the Seven|
|Named for||King Harren Hoare, its founder|
|Notable places||Kingspyre Tower, Tower of Dread, Tower of Ghosts, Wailing Tower, Widow's Tower|
Harrenhal, the largest castle in the Seven Kingdoms, is the seat of House Whent in the riverlands, on the north shore of the Gods Eye lake. Since it's burning by dragonfire in Aegon's 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 which reach as far as the hills of House Wode near the crownlands. Harrentown is found near Harrenhal.
- 1 Layout
- 2 History
- 3 Recent Events
- 4 Curse
- 5 Quotes
- 6 Chapters that take place at Harrenhal
- 7 References
- See also: Images of Harrenhal
According to a semi-canon source, Harrenhal is immensely strong. 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.
Harrenhal has the largest chamber in Westeros, larger than the Red Keep's throne room. The Crown chose it as the location of the first Great Council because it did not know how many would attend, and wanted a hall for at least five hundred lords and their entourages; more than a thousand came. The castle 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 during the burning of Harrenhal by the Targaryen dragons three centuries earlier. Their original names were lost with the death of Harren the Black.
The Five Towers:
- Tower of Dread is near the middle bailey and the mews.
- 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-three 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.
- Hunter's Hall is another hall of the castle.
- The mews are said to be haunted by the spirits of dead falcons.
- The godswood is walled over twenty acres. It has a small stream running through it. Its heart tree, a weirwood, 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 the Battle Above the Gods Eye in 130 AC during 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 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.
The seat of Halleck Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers, was a modest tower house at Fairmarket on the Blue Fork. His son, Harren the Black, built Harrenhal along the Gods Eye as a monument to himself, intending it to be the greatest of all castles in Westeros and for it to dwarf any other.
The construction of Harren's dream took forty years. Thousands of captives 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 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 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.
Since Aegon's Conquest, the castle has become a white elephant. It is too big to garrison effectively and too expensive to maintain. Harren allegedly mixed human blood into the mortar for the stonework; some believe that the castle is cursed and haunted due to Harren's hubris and the horrors that have occurred within the castle's walls, with the early deaths of its many rulers as proof. The curse is thought to prevent any lord from holding Harrenhal indefinitely.
King Aegon I Targaryen granted Harrenhal to Quenton Qoherys, although Lord Edmyn Tully of Riverrun was named Lord Paramount of the Trident. 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.
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 of Harrenhal and Lord Harroway's Town were extinguished by King Maegor I Targaryen in 44 AC, however. It began to be said that the castle was cursed.
Ser Walton Towers was named the new Lord of Harrenhal after winning a melee announced by Maegor, though he died of his wounds within two weeks of the event. Jordan Towers received Harrenhal, though not all of the lands formerly belonging to House Harroway, as Lord Harroway's Town was granted to Lord Alton Butterwell and the rest of the Harroway holdings to Lord Darnold Darry. House Towers became extinct when Lord Maegor Towers died without heirs in 61 AC.
Since the sickly and impoverished Lord Maegor only utilized one of Harrenhal's five towers, the Tower of Dread, King Jaehaerys I Targaryen settled his widowed sister, Queen Rhaena Targaryen in Harrenhal. Rhaena, who lived in the Widow's Tower, became friends with poor Maegor, and she took care of his household after their lord's passing. After Rhaena died at Harrenhal in 73 AC, the king had her remains burned and interred in the castle.
King Jaehaerys I Targaryen granted Harrenhal to Ser Bywin Strong after Rhaena's death. The Great Council of 101 AC, in which Prince Viserys was chosen as the Old King's successor, was hosted by House Strong of Harrenhal.
Lord Lyonel and his heir Harwin died in a fire at Harrenhal in 120 AC. It 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.
Early in the Dance of the Dragons, Ser Simon Strong surrendered the castle to Prince Daemon Targaryen during his assault on Harrenhal. Daemon 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. Aemond killed Simon and his kin.
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. Lady Sabitha Frey, who had occupied Harrenhal in the meantime, was forced to hide in a privy to survive the dragonflame. Daemon and Aemond later fought in the Battle Above the Gods Eye, a duel which killed both princes and their dragons, Caraxes and Vhagar, although Daemon's body was never found. Lord Larys Strong was executed during the Hour of the Wolf in 131 AC, ending House Strong.
Alys Rivers was the so-called "witch queen" who ruled Harrenhal during the regency of Aegon III, following the Dance of the Dragons. She claimed to Ser Regis Groves and Ser Damon Darry that she was the widow of Prince Aemond Targaryen, and that their young son was trueborn and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Regis did not survive the encounter and Damon fled back to Darry. An ill-fated messenger sent to Darry claimed that he had seen a dragon inside Harrenhal. The regents in King's Landing planned to gather a large army to recover Harrenhal, but their plans were interrupted by the Winter Fever of 133 AC.
King Aegon III Targaryen gave the ruined castle to Ser Lucas Lothston in 151 AC. The Bastard of Harrenhal was defeated by Ser Arlan of Pennytree in a melee in 193 AC. House Lothston was involved in the First Blackfyre Rebellion and helped to suppress the Second Blackfyre Rebellion with the might of Harrenhal. The Lothstons were cast down during the reign of Maekar I Targaryen, however, as Lady Danelle Lothston descended into madness.
Lord Walter Whent hosted a great tourney at Harrenhal in 281 AC. The famous tournament 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 the Kingsguard of Aerys II Targaryen during the tourney. Prior to the outbreak of Robert's Rebellion, Rhaegar abducted Lyanna Stark less than ten leagues from Harrenhal. The Whents have been noted for their own tragedies.
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 Lannister grants the castle to Janos Slynt in return for his service.
A Clash of Kings
The Mountain's men capture Arya Stark, Gendry, and Hot Pie and bring the youths to Harrenhal. Tywin's garrison include bannermen lead by Ser Amory Lorch and Ser Gregor Clegane, and they are bolstered by the Brave Companions. 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 on 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.
Tywin departs Harrenhal, leaving Amory as castellan. 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.
A new group of northern prisoners, including Robett Glover, are brought to Harrenhal by the Brave Companions. The incognito Arya, who has been serving 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 after the fall of Harrenhal. Arya serves Roose as his cupbearer.
Following the Battle of the Blackwater, King Joffrey I Baratheon awards Harrenhal to Lord 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, replacing Hoster Tully of Riverrun; Hoster is a supporter of Robb Stark, the King in the North.
Harrenhal remains occupied by Roose Bolton's northmen and Ser Aenys Frey's rivermen. Roose punishes and executes some of the castle's servants for having served House Lannister. Arya thinks of herself as the ghost in Harrenhal, but she flees with Gendry and Hot Pie from the castle when she learns Roose intends to grant it to Vargo Hoat, the leader of the Brave Companions.
A Storm of Swords
Vargo had changed his allegiance from House Lannister to House Stark in order to receive Harrenhal from Roose Bolton. After Ser Jaime Lannister escapes Riverrun, Vargo, fearing the vengeance of Jaime's father Tywin, desires to wed Lord Rickard Karstark's daughter, Alys, and claim the safer and more distant Karhold. Vargo's Brave Companions capture Jaime near Maidenpool. Fearing that Roose will return Jaime to Ser Edmure Tully at Riverrun or even to Tywin in King's Landing, Vargo has Zollo maim Jaime by cutting off the knight's sword hand. Lord Karstark is eventually executed by Robb Stark for his own treason.
The Bloody Mummers bring Jaime and Brienne of Tarth to Harrenhal, and within the castle's bathhouse Jaime reveals the wildfire plot to Brienne. While departing Harrenhal for Edmure's wedding at the Twins, Lord Bolton sends Steelshanks Walton to escort Jaime to King's Landing. Brienne remains in Vargo's control. After a dream during his journey to the capital, however, Jaime insists on returning to Harrenhal, arriving in time to rescue Brienne from the bear pit. Jaime brings Brienne with him to safety in King's Landing.
Following Robb's death in the Red Wedding, Tywin Lannister, the Hand of the King for Joffrey I Baratheon, intends to be lenient toward any opponent who surrenders, with the exception from Vargo at Harrenhal. Most Brave Companions flee the castle. After the capture of Harrenhal, Gregor departs to King's Landing to participate in the trial by combat of Tyrion Lannister.
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 Arryn, 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. Timeon informs Brienne that Gregor had mutilated and eventually killed Vargo Hoat before the Mountain departed for King's Landing. The Lords Declarant try to convince Petyr Baelish to take possession of Harrenhal, but Littlefinger manipulates them and remains in the Vale.
Sent to bring peace to the riverlands, Jaime Lannister returns to Harrenhal 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 the Mountain's men and replaces the garrison with the pious regiment known as the Holy Hundred. Jaime appoints their leader, Ser Bonifer Hasty, as castellan until the time when Lord Baelish claims his castle. Jaime releases Ser Wylis Manderly from imprisonment and has Ser Ilyn Payne execute one of the Mountain's men for having raped Pia.
Harrenhal is said to be cursed, as many Houses and individuals who have held the castle have eventually come to bad ends.
Houses to have held Harrenhal
- House Hoare, wiped out during the burning of Harrenhal.
- House Qoherys held Harrenhal from 1 AC-37 AC, wiped out by Harren the Red.
- House Harroway held Harrenhal from 37 AC-44 AC, wiped out by King Maegor I Targaryen.
- House Towers held Harrenhal from 44 AC-61 AC, dying out without heirs.
- The widowed Queen Rhaena Targaryen held Harrenhal from 61 AC-73 AC, when she died.
- House Strong held Harrenhal from 73 AC-131 AC, last of the line executed by Lord Cregan Stark.
- Alys Rivers was the "witch queen" of Harrenhal during the regency of Aegon III.
- House Lothston held Harrenhal from 151 AC-unknown, line was brought down in the reign of King Maekar I Targaryen.
- House Whent held Harrenhal for three generations. Lady Shella Whent yielded the castle in 298 AC to the forces of Lord Tywin Lannister.
- House Slynt was awarded Harrenhal for a short period of time in 299 AC.
- House Baelish was awarded Harrenhal in 299 AC.
Individuals who have held Harrenhal since 298 AC
- Shella Whent, last of House Whent. Said to have 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 by Tyrion Lannister and sent to the Wall where he is later executed by Jon Snow.
- Tywin Lannister, took possession of Harrenhal near the start of the War of the Five Kings. Later slain by a crossbow by his son, Tyrion, while seated on a privy in the Tower of the Hand.
- Amory Lorch, named castellan. Fed to a bear in Harrenhal's bear pit.
- Roose Bolton, held Harrenhal for a short time.
- Petyr Baelish, named Lord of Harrenhal and Lord Paramount of the Trident, though he has yet to take possession of the castle.
- Vargo Hoat, given Harrenhal by Lord Bolton and eventually tortured to death within Harrenhal by Gregor Clegane.
- Gregor Clegane, died of a poisoned spear thrust after being wounded by Oberyn Martell in King's Landing.
- Polliver, named castellan. Eventually killed by Sandor Clegane at the crossroads inn.
- Bonifer Hasty, named castellan by Jaime Lannister.
Tyrion: You're a bold man to take Harrenhal for your seat. Such a grim place, and huge ... costly to maintain. And some say cursed as well.
Janos: Should I fear a pile of stone?
That is an ill place. Cursed, they say. Not that I am the sort to swallow such tales, but still, there it is.
Sansa: 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.
—thoughts of Jaime Lannister
—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 ...
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
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 17, Tyrion IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands: House Tully.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 27, Jaime III.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 14, Arya IV.
- So Spake Martin: A Number of Question, May 12, 2001
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
- Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 38, Arya VIII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 64, Arya X.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 44, Jaime VI.
- Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Triumphant.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 37, Jaime V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 26, Arya VI.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 7, Catelyn I.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 8, Tyrion II.
- Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 69, Tyrion IX.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 16, Bran II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 65, Sansa VIII.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 23, Alayne I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
- A Forum of Ice and Fire: Inconsistency or Intentional?
- Fire & Blood, Jaehaerys and Alysanne - Their Triumphs and Tragedies.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
- Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
- The Hedge Knight.
- The Sworn Sword.
- The Mystery Knight.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 24, Bran II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Fall of the Dragons: The Year of the False Spring.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 57, Sansa V.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 39, Catelyn V.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 21, Jaime III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 20, Catelyn III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 31, Jaime IV.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 53, Tyrion VI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 62, Jaime VII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 60, Tyrion VIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 74, Arya XIII.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 68, Sansa VI.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 17, Cersei IV.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 7, Jon II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 77, Tyrion XI.
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