Game of Thrones – The Story of the Doune Castle ( Winterfell )

One of the first places we saw in Game of Thrones season 1 episode 1 was Winterfell, the home of the Stark family. The castle, in the series, is in the North, in Westeros, and it is placed above some thermal springs that keep the castle warm even in the winter.

D.B. Weiss, one of the creators of the Game of Thrones TV show explains the importance of the castle: ” The show starts in Winterfell and the Stark family represents the anchor of the first season so designing the Stark family house is a very important task. It was difficult to do because it has to be a place like the Stark family: strong, trustworthy, simple. But we also wanted to be a unique place so we filmed a lot of the pilot in the Doune castle, a medieval fortress in Scotland. It’s an amazing place, the same place where Monthy Python and the Holy Grail was filmed” Weiss said.

The Doune castle is a medieval castle located in the village of Doune, built in the 13th century. The Doune castle was affected by the Scottish independence wars and it was rebuilt in its current shape in the 15th century by Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and son of King Robert The 2nd of Scotland. Robert Stewart was regent of Scotland between 1388 and 1420 and in this time the Doune castle was a royal residence.


The castle is positioned in a strategic place, at the junction of rivers Ardoch and Teith, reason for which it was a important place in history. Archaeologists discovered that the place had military importance ever since the first century when it was used by the Romans to build fortresses. Historians speculate that before the Doune castle was built, the site housed other fortifications. Actually, the Doune word derives from “dun” which means Fort.

The Doune castle is located near the geographic center of Scotland, only 8 km from the Stirling castle and the location is perfect for defense strategies.

In Game of Thrones the Doune castle is visible during the feast that takes place when King Robert Baratheon arrives in Winterfell. Still, the Doune castle was not the only real life place used to show Winterfell.

Robbie Boake, the Game of Thrones locations coordinator says that the team also used the Ward castle, built in the 18th century.


The Ward castle is located nearby the village of Strangfold in Northern Ireland, and the domain includes 332 acres of garden.

Gemma Jackson, writer of the show, says that “Doune set the tone but Winterfell evolved since the first season. Because it wasn’t practical to return to Scotland to film the show we built an exact replace of the Doune great hall on the Belfast set, where most of the show was filmed” Jackson says.

Know other real life locations where Game of Thrones was filmed ? Please share!

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