The Starks of Winterfell were originally known as The Kings of Winter, the title used for roughly 8,000 years. A title containing words, which I believe will prove to be immensely important, in more ways than one, not only to House Stark but to all of the citizens of Westeros.
According to Westeros history in The World of Ice and Fire, Bran the Builder built Winterfell after the end of the Long Night to act as the seat of The Kings of Winter, the seat of House Stark.
The greatest castle of the North is Winterfell, the seat of the Starks since the Dawn Age. Legend says that Brandon the Builder raised Winterfell after the generations-long winter known as the Long Night to become the stonghold of his descendants, the Kings of Winter.
-The World of Ice & Fire, page 142
‘The Kings of Winter’ This implies a strong connection between House Stark, Winterfell, the Wall, the purpose of the Night’s Watch, the Long Night, the White Walkers, winter, and ultimately being able to fend off and, in essence, control winter.
I propose a Stark in Winterfell has the ability to control winter, and therein lies the root of the original styling The Kings of Winter. While words may be wind, these words in particular appear to possess power, strength, memory and magic.
I further propose when Torrhen Stark forfeited the House Stark title The Kings of Winter and handed over the crown of The Kings of Winter, he symbolically released the memory of the true purpose of House Stark, and cut any magical ties which had been connected to the title and crown, thereby initiating what I call ‘generational amnesia’.
The title change from ‘The Kings of Winter’ to ‘King in the North’ in effect resulted in House Stark and its lineage forgetting their history, their life’s purpose, which has carried over into Westeros as we know it today.
‘King in the North’ is the recent and currently used title, which has only been in play over the last few centuries, a direct result from Torrhen Stark bending the knee, forever known as the King Who Knelt. This also indicates great significance in the wording of the original Stark title.
There upon the south bank of the Trident, he knelt, laid the ancient crown of the Kings of Winter at Aegon’s feet, and swore to be his man. He rose as Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North, a king no more.
–The World of Ice & Fire, page 42
The ancient crown of The Kings of Winter.
The Starks have also forgotten something else of great importance: the true meaning behind the saying ‘There Must Always Be a Stark in Winterfell’.
We hear the Starks repeating this phrase, saying the words, and yet we never hear or see any indication that any Stark knows why there must always be a Stark in Winterfell.
From a survival point of view it certainly makes sense for every House, Great or small, to have at least one of their namesake present on site at all times. Aside from assisting in acting as a deterence towards anyone showing up and enforcing squatter’s rights, well let’s face it, its a wild world in Westeros. Someone always needs to be around to man the fort.
Why is it that we do not hear any other Great House saying the same thing? No other character ever says those words, nor words even remotely similar. Not in the books. Not in the show. Only the Starks make such statements.
A Stark in Winterfell holds the key to controlling winter, the ability and secret to fighting the White Walkers and preventing the Long Night from returning.
When the cold winter winds rise the dead rise with it.
The North Remembers. Old Nan remembers. The Kings of Winter in the crypts of Winterfell remember. The Old Gods remember ..….
Cue Ghost – The arrival of the direwolves was intentional, deliberate. Mandatory for the tale George R.R. Martin is weaving. The direwolf is the sigil of House Stark and is connected to the Old Gods. Ghost specifically is directly connected to the Old Gods even more so than the other direwolves (refer to my post ‘My Theory Rhaegar Targaryen’s Spirit is Living in Ghost’ for details).
The direwolves arrived at a crucial time, as a series of extremely unfortunate events were about to descend upon House Stark. When the White Walkers were actively beginning to be seen. Coincidence? I think not.
A time when it is imperative House Stark remember its purpose, just as the Night’s Watch must also remember its purpose. How very curious indeed. Coincidence? I think not.
How do the Starks control winter? The Kings of Winter down in the crypts of Winterfell know the secret. A secret buried deep down there with them. Floors and floors of dead Starks. 8000 millennium of dead Starks to be exact. All the bones of all the Starks in one place just south of the Wall. Another coincidence? Again, I think not.
Also worth considering is why Ned decided to add Lyanna’s bones to the crypts whereas before it was typically mainly for the Kings of Winter, The Lords of Winterfell and their direwolves. Why would Ned go against traditional and start adding his immediate family?
Ned knew Lyanna was unique even amongst Starks. Lyanna was different, fiercely rich in the Stark wolfsblood, her bloodline contained a secret, a ‘key’ that Ned Stark, the House of The Kings of Winter, would sacrifice everything to protect. A reminder of a past which has been forgotten. Lyanna’s bones could easily be argued as valuable. But that is a post for another day …..
King in the North is, unfortunately, a more current reflection of the current state of House Stark and the Night’s Watch. Each has lost sight of the big picture, their reason for being there. Much as most of Westeros has.
Jon Snow sees the big picture although he does not (yet) have a concept of the gravity of the millennium-old connection between House Stark and winter, the White Walkers and the Long Night of Old Nan’s stories.
If only stone statues could speak. In the meantime …
The North remembers. Old Nan remembers. The Old Gods remember. The Kings of Winter remember..…. when will the Stark’s remember?
Winter is Coming, and the dead come with it. Hopefully Bran gets his warg on high gear soon and solves the riddle of the crypts of Winterfell before the next Long Night.
Originally published on Quora 8 July 2016