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For the seat of House Baelish, see Drearfort.
The North and the location of the Dreadfort
The North and the location of the Dreadfort

Artwork by lykhaon ©
Location Westeros, North
Government House Bolton , Feudal Lord.
Religion Old gods

The Dreadfort is a fortress in the North and the seat of House Bolton in northeastern Westeros. Located on the banks of the upper Weeping Water, it is southeast of the Lonely Hills and north of the Sheepshead Hills. The Dreadfort is north of Hornwood, south of Last Hearth, and southwest of Karhold.[1]


The Dreadfort is ill-omened, for it is said that the Boltons still keep torture chambers and a special room where they hang the flayed skins of their enemies, including several Kings in the North from House Stark.[2] Centuries ago, the Boltons rose up against King Harlon Stark, and the Dreadfort held out for two years under siege before the Boltons surrendered.[3]


The Dreadfort is a strong fortress, with high walls and triangular merlons that look like sharp stone teeth. It has thick stone walls and massive towers.[3] Its great hall is dim and smoky, with rows of torches grasped by skeletal human hands jutting from the walls. Long tables stand before a dais with a high table. The hall has a vaulted ceiling and wooden rafters turned black from smoke.[4]

Recent Events

© Fantasy Flight Games
Prisoners in the Dreadfort – by Tomasz Jedruszek. © Fantasy Flight Games

A Game of Thrones

Dreadfort men under the command of Lord Roose Bolton join the northern host called by Robb Stark at Winterfell.[2]

A Clash of Kings

Lady Donella Hornwood learns that Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose, is massing men at the Dreadfort. She is concerned, as the lands of House Hornwood lands adjoin those of the Boltons.[5] While returning from Winterfell's harvest feast, Donella is seized and forced to wed Ramsay. In response, Lord Wyman Manderly seizes Hornwood to prevent Ramsay from occupying it,[6] and White Harbor knights battle Dreadfort men in the Hornwood forests. News reaches Winterfell via Ser Rodrik Cassel, but he does not have the manpower to stop them.[7]

"Reek", a servant of House Bolton, is captured by Rodrik after the supposed death of Ramsay. After the capture of Winterfell by Theon Greyjoy, "Reek" aligns himself with Theon. Because Theon lacks the manpower to hold Winterfell, he allows "Reek" to leave to hopefully gather a few hundred reinforcements.[8] However, "Reek" returns to Winterfell with six hundred men from the Dreadfort. He attacks Rodrik's army of Stark loyalists in a battle at Winterfell, reveals himself to be the still-living Ramsay Snow, and has Winterfell sacked.[9]

A Storm of Swords

According to a letter Lothar Frey reads to Robb at Riverrun, the women and children who survived the sack of Winterfell, which allegedly was caused by Theon's ironborn, were taken to the Dreadfort by the Bastard of Bolton.[10]

During the War of the Five Kings the Boltons turn on their Stark allies and aid the Freys in slaughtering them at the Red Wedding.[11] King Tommen Baratheon signs decrees which name Roose Bolton the new Warden of the North and which legitimize Ramsay Snow as Ramsay Bolton.[12] With the bulk of the Bolton host trapped south of Moat Cailin, the Dreadfort is under the rule of Ramsay.

A Dance with Dragons

Theon Greyjoy is kept in a dungeon below the castle where he has been subjected to Ramsay's flaying since the sack of Winterfell.[4] Arnolf Karstark writes to Stannis Baratheon that the Dreadfort is weakly garrisoned with fewer than fifty men, half of them servants. However, Jon Snow explains that the Dreadfort is a strong castle, and he convinces Stannis to instead march from Castle Black to Deepwood Motte.[3]


Lord Roose never says a word, he only looks at me, and all I can think of is that room they have in the Dreadfort, where the Boltons hang the skins of their enemies.[2]
Robb Stark

I know the Dreadfort. It is a strong castle, all of stone, with thick walls and massive towers. With winter coming you will find it well provisioned. Centuries ago, House Bolton rose up against the King in the North, and Harlon Stark laid siege to the Dreadfort. It took him two years to starve them out.[3]
Jon Snow

References and Notes

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