A godswood is usually a small wooded area within the walls of castles throughout the Seven Kingdoms. It is primarily used as a place of worship by those who carry on the traditions of the First Men and pray to the old gods. To followers of the Faith of the Seven, some of whom belong to families that converted to the Faith throughout the centuries, they are treated as a private wooded area of solitude.
When the First Men took up the old gods of the children of the forest, they created godswoods, groves within their castles and villages where a single weirwood, known as a "heart tree" and carved with a face, was planted so the gods could be worshipped. In the north every castle has a weirwood heart tree with a face. South of the Neck, however, most weirwoods were cut down or burnt years ago. There is a significant number on the Isle of Faces, however, and many southron castles still have weirwoods within their godswoods.
In the westerlands, Casterly Rock's godswood is a cave within the mountain, called the Stone Garden. It contains a twisted weirwood, whose tangled roots have almost filled the cave, choking out all other growth.
The Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn contains a godswood but no heart tree. It is more garden than godswood, as the ground is too thin and stony for a weirwood to grow. Instead, there is a statue of a weeping woman at its center.
Although Garth IX Gardener, King of the Reach, built the first sept of Highgarden, he continued to pray within the castle's godswood. The lush godswood contains three weirwoods, said by some to have been planted by Garth Greenhand.
The godswood of Raventree Hall in the riverlands contains trees said to be as old as the castle's towers. Its weirwood heart tree, although dead, is colossal and can be seen from leagues away. Hundreds of ravens have roosted on the tree at night for thousands of years. The godswood also contains a statue of Melissa Blackwood.
The godswood at the Red Keep, the castle of King's Landing in the crownlands, overlooks the Blackwater Rush. It is an acre of elm, alder, and black cottonwood. Unlike the weirwoods of older godswoods, the Red Keep's heart tree is a great oak covered in smokeberry vines. Red dragon's breath grows below the oak.
The godswood at Riverrun in the riverlands is a bright and airy garden. Full of birds and flowers, it consists of tall redwoods and old elms overlooking streams. Its heart tree is a slender weirwood with a sad face.
The city of White Harbor in the north contains a godswood within the Wolf's Den. The godswood is a brooding tangle of root, branch, and stone, made up of oaks, elms, and birch. Its weirwood heart tree is massive, with branches breaching walls and windows and an angry carved face.
The godswood of Winterfell in the north is a dark, primal place of three acres of old forest untouched for ten thousand years. It primarily consists of sentinels, oaks, and ironwoods, but also has ash, chestnuts, elms, hawthorn, and soldier pines. In the center is a small, dark, and cold pool with an ancient weirwood heart tree. The weirwood has bark white as bone, dark red leaves, and a long and melancholy face carved in the bark, its deep-cut eyes red with dried sap. A thousand years of humus covers the earth. Across the godswood, below the windows of Winterfell's Guest House, three small ponds are fed by an underground hot spring.
Quotes about godswoods
—thoughts of Sansa Stark
There is a power in living wood, a power strong as fire.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 2, Catelyn I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Arrival of the Andals.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 48, Jaime I.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Casterly Rock.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 30, Jaime IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 26, The Wayward Bride.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 41, Alayne II.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 80, Sansa VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 30, Arya VII.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 47, Arya IX.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Andals in the Reach.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Highgarden.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 71, Catelyn XI.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 5, Davos I.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 20, Brienne IV.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 15, Davos II.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 49, Tyrion XI.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 53, Bran VI.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 18, Sansa II.
- A Clash of Kings, Chapter 69, Bran VII.