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Franz Miklis karhold.jpg
Karhold, by Franz Miklis © Fantasy Flight Games
Location Westeros, the north
Government House Karstark, feudal lord
Ruler Lord Rickard Karstark (AGoT)
Lord Harrion Karstark (ADwD)
Religion Old gods
Founded "A thousand years ago"
(Possibly around ~700 BC)[N 1]
Named for Karlon Stark, its founder
The north and the location of Karhold
The north and the location of Karhold
The north and the location of Karhold

Karhold is the seat of House Karstark in the north. It is located along a forested river[1] in the eastern half of the north, south of the Bay of Seals. Further to the east are the Grey Cliffs.[2]


A strong castle,[3] Karhold is smaller and meaner than Harrenhal.[4]


The castle was built by Karlon Stark, a younger son of Winterfell, who was awarded land after defeating a rebel lord "a thousand years ago".[N 1] The castle was named Karl's Hold after Karlon, but over centuries the name developed into Karhold and the Karhold Starks became the Karstarks.[5]

Similar to the northern mountain clans, older men of Karhold leave to hunt during winter to ease the burden on younger generations.[6]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Lord Rickard Karstark and his sons Harrion, Eddard, and Torrhen lead three hundred horsemen and near two thousand foot from Karhold to Winterfell when Robb Stark calls the northern banners.[7] Eddard and Torrhen are slain by Ser Jaime Lannister during the battle in the Whispering Wood.[8]

A Storm of Swords

After Jaime escapes from captivity at Riverrun, the vengeful Lord Rickard promises his daughter Alys's hand to whomever would bring him the Kingslayer.[5]

Vargo Hoat maims and captures Jaime with the hopes of gaining Alys in marriage, which would give him the chance to become Lord of Karhold.[9] Because Lord Rickard murders two prisoners, Willem Lannister and Tion Frey, at Riverrun, he is executed by Robb, now King in the North.[5]

Maester Aemon sends a raven to Karhold in a plea for help to defend Castle Black from wildlings.[10]

A Feast for Crows

Stannis Baratheon has ravens sent from Castle Black with messages seeking allegiance from the northern lords. Karhold is the only seat to pledge support.[11]

A Dance with Dragons

Karhold's harvest is less than expected because so many men went south with Lord Rickard, leaving women, children, the elderly, and the crippled to work the fields. Crops wither or are ruined by storms and snow.[6]

Arnolf Karstark, the castellan of Karhold and uncle of late Lord Rickard Karstark, declares for Stannis. Jon Snow, the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, thinks Arnolf's support is only because House Karstark has damaged its relations too badly with House Stark and House Lannister.[12] However, Arnolf plots to make his son, Cregan, the new Lord of Karhold by forcing Alys to marry Cregan. Arnolf also declares for Stannis to goad the Iron Throne to execute the rightful heir of Karhold, captive Harrion.[13]

To avoid the planned marriage, Alys flees from Karhold and seeks protection from Jon at Castle Black.[13] The Lord Commander arranges for Melisandre to marry Alys to Sigorn, Magnar of Thenn, thus creating a new noble house that would claim Karhold should Harrion perish.[6] Cregan is imprisoned by Jon at Castle Black. Alys thinks that Karhold will open its gates to her and Sigorn's Thenns. Jon advises her to send to the Night's Watch spare boys or any older men who would otherwise leave to hunt in winter.[6]

The Winds of Winter

This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.

After receiving a message from Jon Snow that Arnolf plans to betray the king, Stannis Baratheon has the castellan of Karhold arrested.[14]


Karhold was a strong castle, Father always said.[3]

—thoughts of Bran Stark

Jon: When your stores begin to dwindle, my lady, remember us. Send your old men to the Wall, let them say our words. Here at least they will not die alone in the snow, with only memories to warm them. Send us boys as well, if you have boys to spare.
Alys: As you say. Karhold remembers.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Catelyn Stark recalls that Karlon Stark put down a rebel lord "a thousand years ago" (A Storm of Swords, Catelyn III). It is unknown if this means one thousand years ago (seven hundred years before Aegon's Conquest) or if George R. R. Martin is being figurative.