Since Season 1 of Game of Thrones, it was kind of hinted that The Long Night was a random winter that mysteriously lasted for an entire generation and killed all of the crops. Old Nan told a young Bran that The Long Night was a time when “kings froze to death in their castles, same as the shepherds in their huts; and women smothered their babies rather than see them starve, and wept, and felt the tears freeze on their cheeks,” and that there were “pale spiders big as hounds.” Now a new Game of Thrones fan theory has emerged that suggests that The Long Night and the current White Walker uprising are caused by the Starks.
In George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, there is a line that is used quite a bit by those in House Stark: “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” But it isn’t just a fun saying, the characters abide by the line as if it is life or death if it is not carried out, which it might be.
The Game of Thrones fan theory suggests that this is far more than just a line or a superstition. The belief is that if there are no blood members of the Starks in Winterfell bad, bad things happen. Like dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria, end of the world bad. Unfortunately for all of Westeros, Ned Stark forgot this critical rule and it may have awakened the Army of the Undead. So much for “the North remembers.” Ned Stark took most of his family out of Winterfell and into King’s Landing so that he could be Robert Baratheon’s Hand of the King. Ned, have you lost your head?
In the TV show, the quote was uttered by Catelyn Stark in Episode 2 titled The Kingsroad of Season 1 when she told Robb Stark, “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell,” when he was plotting to go to King’s Landing to see if he could find any evidence that the Lannisters were involved with Bran’s “accident.” Catelyn left for King’s Landing instead of Robb.
Robb, Rickon, and a paralyzed Bran were the only blood Starks at Winterfell after the rest of the family moved to King’s Landing. Robb went to go fight, left his crippled little brother at Winterfell. Theon Greyjoy took control of Winterfell and Osha seduced him so that she could escape the castle with Bran, Rickon, and Hodor. Suddenly, there were no blood Starks in Winterfell.
That could be the start of the domino effect that flung Westeros into peril. The theory suggests that Winterfell has some magical qualities that are linked to the Stark family, especially since the Starks and the White Walkers have been linked since The Age of Heroes.
Then there are the Crypts of Winterfell underground that are the burial grounds for House Stark. There is another theory that suggests that the crypts are significant in the impending invasion by the Night King and his Army of Undead because they want something from the crypt.
The memorial stone statue of each dead Stark has a direwolf near their feet and an iron sword in their lap to keep vengeful spirits within the crypts. There are also large iron swords and an iron door keeping spirits locked inside and anything else from entering. Seems like a lot of hardware to guard stone statues. There must be something dangerous or valuable in the Crypts of Winterfell. However, the doors and swords have been rusting away over the thousands of years in the crypt so security is not at maximum strength and that will probably be a major issue in the last six episodes of Season 8.
In Eddard I, you get a feel for the tombs and they note again that the iron had rusted:
“The shifting shadows made the stone figures seem to stir as the living passed by. By ancient custom an iron longsword had been laid across the lap of each who had been Lord of Winterfell, to keep the vengeful spirits in their crypts. The oldest had long ago rusted away to nothing, leaving only a few red stains where the metal had rested on stone. Ned wondered if that meant those ghosts were free to roam the castle now. He hoped not. The first Lords of Winterfell had been men hard as the land they ruled. In the centuries before the Dragonlords came over the sea, they had sworn allegiance to no man, styling themselves the Kings in the North.”
In Jon VIII of A Storm of Swords, Jon Snow had a dream about going back to Winterfell and into the crypts where he noted that the swords are rusted and something mysterious is down there:
“He dreamt he was back in Winterfell, limping past the stone kings on their thrones. Their grey granite eyes turned to follow him as he passed, and their grey granite fingers tightened on the hilts of the rusted swords upon their laps. ‘You are no Stark,’ he could hear them mutter, in heavy granite voices. ‘There is no place for you here. Go away.’ He walked deeper into the darkness. ‘Father?’ he called. ‘Bran? Rickon?’ No one answered. A chill wind was blowing on his neck. ‘Uncle?’ he called. ‘Uncle Benjen? Father? Please, Father, help me.’ Up above he heard drums. They are feasting in the Great Hall, but I am not welcome there. I am no Stark, and this is not my place.”
Besides the rusted iron of the crypts, Winterfell will have new visitors with Daenerys Targaryen and her two dragons. In the Game of Thrones universe, dragons enhance the amount of magic in the area when they are near. Many ancient folks thought that magic had begun to leave the world the day the last dragon died. So with the dragons in Winterfell, expect the crypts to be lit with all kinds of spooky stuff going on.
There is definitely a reason that HBO decided to make the Crypts of Winterfell the setting of the first trailer for the final season of Game of Thrones. Here are some explanations and things you may have missed from the Season 8 Game of Thrones teaser trailer.
The last season of Game of Thrones returns on April 17th.