- This article is about the settlement. For the episode see Hardhome (episode).
Hardhome was a Free Folk fishing village located beyond the Wall on a sheltered bay along the Shivering Sea, situated at the tip of the large peninsula known as Storrold's Point. Many of the Free Folk who survived the Battle of Castle Black and were not captured by the forces of Stannis Baratheon fled to Hardhome.
During the massacre of Hardhome, the entire village was invaded and destroyed by the White Walkers and wights. Those killed during the battle were all resurrected as wights by the Night King. The survivors of Hardhome went on board the fleet docked outside the bay.
Behind the scenes
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Hardhome is the closest thing to a true town that the Free Folk ever built, though by the standards of the Seven Kingdoms south of the Wall it was a modestly sized fishing village. It was perfectly situated in a strong defensive position on the tip of the peninsula known as Storrhold's Point, near waters rich in fish, seals, and sea cows, and with abundant supplies of timber and stone in the surrounding cliffs (which were also well-sheltered with caves).
About 600 years ago (300 years before the Targaryen Conquest), however, disaster struck the settlement. No one knows exactly what happened: the fires from the town's destruction burned so high that watchers on the Wall hundreds of miles away could see the sky dimly lit on the horizon, and ashes rained down in the Haunted Forest for half a year. Some say that slavers came from the Free Cities to attack the town - though no one knows from which city, and no report of it was ever heard. Others say that other wildling groups attacked the town, or that the alleged cannibals from Skagos raided the settlement. Some think that supernatural forces may have struck. Whatever the case, the town was left in ruins and was ever after shunned by the Free Folk, who were convinced Hardhome was haunted by ghouls, demons, and burning ghosts with an unhealthy taste for blood.
As the wildlings flee from the return of the White Walkers, however, many have taken refuge there and partially rebuilt Hardhome.
In the novels, after Mance Rayder's defeat, a small fraction of his army flees the Wall rather than surrender to the Night's Watch, with a large portion (about 6,000 Wildlings) led by the woods witch Mother Mole traveling back to Hardhome to seek refuge. The Night's Watch sends an expedition by ship, led by Cotter Pyke, to treat with them, and possibly evacuate them from the oncoming army of the undead. Jon Snow does not personally join this expedition in the novels, though reports come back from the expedition via messenger-raven. The TV series condensed this to send Jon Snow along with the expedition as a POV character the audience is familiar with (i.e. similar to how in Season 4, Stannis actually spoke with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank in person, while in the books this was done via written correspondence).