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Alfred Khamidullindreadfort.jpg
The Dreadfort, by Alfred Khamidullin © Fantasy Flight Games
Location Westeros, the north
Government House Bolton, feudal lord
Ruler Lord Roose Bolton
Religion old gods
The north and the location of the Dreadfort
The north and the location of the Dreadfort
The north and the location of the Dreadfort

The Dreadfort is a castle in the north and the seat of House Bolton in northeastern Westeros. Located on the northern bank of the Weeping Water, the fortress is southeast of the Lonely Hills and north of the Sheepshead Hills. The Dreadfort is north of Hornwood, south of Last Hearth, and southwest of Karhold.[1]


Steelshanks Walton serves as Lord Roose Bolton's captain[2] and Nage is one of his guards. Ben Bones is the castle's kennelmaster[3] and Tybald serves as maester.[4] Letters from the Dreadfort use pink sealing wax.[5] Other men at the Dreadfort include sworn swords, serjeants, soldiers, gaolers, and torturers.[6]


The Dreadfort is a strong fortress with thick stone walls and massive towers.[7] The castle has triangular merlons which look like sharp stone teeth.[6]

The great hall of the Dreadfort is dim and smoky, with rows of torches grasped by skeletal human hands jutting from the walls. Long tables stand before a dais with a high table and the seat of the Lord of the Dreadfort. The hall has a vaulted ceiling and wooden rafters turned black from smoke.[6]

Kennels are located in the Dreadfort's yard, and steep steps lead down to the dungeons. The cells beneath the castle have cold damp stone walls.[6] The castle is ill omened, for it is said the Boltons keep torture chambers and a special room where they hang the flayed skins of their enemies, including several Kings in the North.[8]

Boltons are buried beneath the Dreadfort.[9]


The Dreadfort was the seat of the Red Kings from House Bolton during the Age of Heroes. The Boltons eventually submitted to the Kings in the North from House Stark near the start of the coming of the Andals to Westeros. The Boltons aided King Theon Stark in repelling the invasion of Argos Sevenstar.[10]

The Dreadfort once joined House Greystark of the Wolf's Den in rebellion against the Starks.[11] Centuries ago, the Boltons rose up against King Harlon Stark and the Dreadfort held out for two years under siege before the Boltons surrendered.[7]

The servant Reek twice stole perfume from Lady Bethany Bolton's bedchamber because of his horrid smell.[9]

Domeric Bolton, the heir of Lord Roose Bolton, died at the Dreadfort[12] after visiting his baseborn brother, Ramsay Snow, along the Weeping Water.[9] Maester Uthor called it a sickness of the bowels, but Roose blamed poison.[9] Lord Bolton subsequently brought Ramsay to live at the Dreadfort.[13] The Bastard of Bolton has earned a dark reputation from hunting women, and victims who give him good sport are sometimes the namesake for hounds in the Dreadfort's kennel.[9]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Roose Bolton, Lord of the Dreadfort, by Lukasz Jaskolski © Fantasy Flight Games

Dreadfort men under the command of Lord Roose Bolton join the northern host called by Robb Stark at Winterfell.[8]

A Clash of Kings

Lady Donella Hornwood learns that Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose, is massing men at the Dreadfort. She is concerned, as the lands of House Hornwood lands adjoin those of the Boltons.[13] While returning from Winterfell's harvest feast, Donella is seized and forced to wed Ramsay. In response, Lord Wyman Manderly seizes Hornwood to prevent Ramsay from occupying it,[14] and White Harbor knights battle Dreadfort men in the Hornwood forests. News reaches Winterfell via Ser Rodrik Cassel, but he does not have the manpower to stop the fighting in the Hornwood.[15]

"Reek", a servant of House Bolton, is captured by Rodrik after the supposed death of Ramsay. After the capture of Winterfell by Theon Greyjoy, "Reek" aligns himself with Theon. Because Theon lacks the manpower to hold Winterfell, he allows "Reek" to leave to hopefully gather a few hundred reinforcements.[16] However, "Reek" returns to Winterfell with six hundred men from the Dreadfort. He attacks Rodrik's army of Stark loyalists in a battle at Winterfell, reveals himself to be the still-living Ramsay Snow, and orders the sack of Winterfell.[17]

A Storm of Swords

The Dreadfort, by Franz Miklis © Fantasy Flight Games

Lothar Frey reads a letter to Robb Stark, now King in the North, at Riverrun. According to Big Walder Frey, the women and children who survived the sack of Winterfell, which allegedly was caused by Theon's ironborn, were taken to safety at the Dreadfort by the Bastard of Bolton.[18]

Maester Aemon sends a raven to the Boltons in a plea for help to defend Castle Black from wildlings.[19]

The hosts of Roose and Robb meet at the Twins for the wedding of Lord Edmure Tully. Robb agrees with Roose to keep Theon captive at the Dreadfort.[20] The Boltons turn on their Stark allies, however, and aid the Freys in slaughtering them at the Red Wedding.[21] King Tommen I Baratheon signs decrees which name Roose the new Warden of the North and which legitimize Ramsay Snow as Ramsay Bolton.[22] The Hand of the King, Lord Tywin Lannister, intends for the Dreadfort to battle the ironborn for control of the north.[23]

A Feast for Crows

Ramsay serves as castellan of the Dreadfort.[24]

A Dance with Dragons

Theon Greyjoy is kept in a dungeon below the castle where he has been subjected to Ramsay's flaying since the sack of Winterfell.[6] Kyra and Theon eventually escape through an unguarded postern gate, but this turns out to be a ruse by Ramsay; Kyra is hunted and killed by Ramsay and Theon is returned to captivity.[6] Big Walder and Little Walder Frey eventually bring the mutilated Theon, now called "Reek", to Ramsay's feast in the great hall with Arnolf Karstark and Hother Umber.[6]

Ramsay marches with a host to resolve the siege of Moat Cailin.[25] Arnolf writes to Stannis Baratheon at Castle Black that the Dreadfort is weakly garrisoned with fewer than fifty men, half of them servants. However, Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, explains that the Dreadfort is a strong castle, and he convinces Stannis to instead march from Castle Black to Deepwood Motte.[7]


Prisoners in the Dreadfort, by Tomasz Jedruszek © Fantasy Flight Games

Lord Roose never says a word, he only looks at me, and all I can think of is that room they have in the Dreadfort, where the Boltons hang the skins of their enemies.[8]

There were other cells, other prisoners. Sometimes he heard them screaming, even through the thick stone walls. The women always scream the loudest.[6]

—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy

I know the Dreadfort. It is a strong castle, all of stone, with thick walls and massive towers. With winter coming you will find it well provisioned. Centuries ago, House Bolton rose up against the King in the North, and Harlon Stark laid siege to the Dreadfort. It took him two years to starve them out.[7]

The boy he'd been before had been ironborn, true enough, but Reek had come into this world in the dungeons of the Dreadfort.[25]

—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy

Theon was not afraid to die. Underneath the Dreadfort, he had learned there were far worse things than death. Ramsay had taught him that lesson, finger by finger and toe by toe, and it was not one that he was ever like to forget.[26]

—thoughts of Theon Greyjoy