After last week's "Battle of the Bastards," the Jon Snow and Sansa have reclaimed the ancient seat of House Stark from the rotten Boltons and restored order to the North. In honor of their victory, let's take a tour of the real filming locations of Winterfell.
Winterfell Is Actually Three Castles (And A Lot Of CGI)
While the Starks might only have one fortress, there have been three different stone castles used to create the familiar setting we see on TV.
Doune Castle, Stirling, Scotland
In the pilot episode, Doune Castle in Scotland provided the exterior shots and the backdrop for the feast when King Robert's party arrives, and the scene with Ned and Robert at Lyanna's crypt. The stronghold was built in the 13th century, then suffered massive damage during the Scottish Wars of Independence. It was reconstructed around 1400 by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and son of King Robert II. Today, it's in the possession of Historic Scotland.
You might recognize Doune Castle from Monty Python And The Holy Grail, where it set the stage for prancing "Knights Of The Round Table" and several other scenes.
Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland
Filming moved to Castle Ward in Northern Ireland for sparring scenes that take place in Winterfell's courtyard, and the moment when Robert's party arrives at Winterfell (not including the parts with Bran climbing, which were shot in front of a green screen at a studio in Belfast). It remained the main filming location for most of the Season 1.
Here's King Robert's arrival at Winterfell (Castle Ward) into the Lyanna's crypt scene (Castle Doune):
Castle Shane, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
From Season 2 on, most of Winterfell is shot at Castle Shane in County Antrim. According to the website:
It's impossible to trace the centuries, the date or manner of edifice first built on this dramatic site. Probably the present ruins replaced an earlier stronghold built in the 16th century and originally called Edenduffcarrick.
In addition to being a filming location for Game Of Thrones, Shane Castle is still a working farm with about 800 acres of farm — sheep and dairy cows — and 1,000 acres of woods.
Fun fact: The Shane crypts are infested with spiders, and when candles are lit for filming scenes there, the spiders swarm around the light. You can't see it on camera, but apparently it's become an unpopular location with the actors. Understandably!
Game Of Thrones will return to Winterfell this Sunday with Season 6 Finale "The Winds Of Winter. Watch the trailer now: