Roose Bolton: Brandon the Builder, the founder of House Stark, raised Winterfell with giants over 8,000 years ago. Or so nursemaids tell all the children of the North. The children nod, wide-eyed, unaware of the lesson forced on them; that if even giants obeyed a Stark, so too should they.
But like every other castle, Winterfell was built in pieces over thousands of years. The First Men settled there because of the hot springs that bubbled through the ground. The water and the heat helped them survive the northern winters, and they built defences to keep it for themselves. Nobody raised the castle all at once, probably nobody meant to raise a castle at all.
In those days, the Starks were not the greatest house in the North and Winterfell was not the greatest castle. Barrowton was the oldest, dating to the First King, and the Starks fought the Barrow Kings for a thousand years. Greywater Watch was, like the crannogmen themselves, the strangest. Only marriage subdued its Marsh Kings.
But the greatest rival to Winterfell was always the Dreadfort, and my ancestors the Red Kings of House Bolton. If tales can be believed, we fought from The Long Night until the Andals came. Because of us, Winterfell raised its first walls, but we took and burned that castle anyway. Winterfell built more keeps, more walls, more guard towers. They expanded the granaries and larders to survive our sieges. They tended the godswood to win favor with the Old Gods against us. As the castle grew, more farmers and villagers flocked every winter from across the North to huddle under its walls, raising the winter town. In the spring these villagers would find themselves marching in the Stark armies to fight against us. The greatness of Winterfell is as much our doing as the Starks'.
But in the end, neither its stone walls, nor its tall keeps and iron gates could save Winterfell. At its height, it could have lasted a year under heavy siege. But a handful of ironborn seized it in the night, while its lord, the King in the North, was playing in the south. My dagger ended his reign and now House Bolton holds the castle of our ancient enemies. The direwolf no longer flies from the battlements above me, nor guards the doors and cornices against me. Below me miles of long dead Starks fade into darkness and obscurity, until even their faces are lost. Some northerners whisper that they wait for the day their house will rise again. They will wait forever.
- King Brandon Stark, the "Builder" (mentioned)
- First King (mentioned)
- King Robb Stark (indirectly mentioned)
- The North
- Barrowton (mentioned)
- Greywater Watch (mentioned)
- The Dreadfort (mentioned)
- The Long Night
- Andal Invasion (mentioned)
- Thousand Years War (mentioned)
- War of the Five Kings