House Stark of Winterfell is one of the great houses of Westeros and the principal noble house of the North; many lesser houses are sworn to them. In days of old they ruled as Kings of Winter; since the Targaryen Conquest they have been Wardens of the North. Their seat, Winterfell, is an ancient castle renowned for its strength. Their sigil is a grey direwolf racing across a field of white, and their words are "Winter Is Coming", one of only a few house mottoes to be a warning rather than a boast. Members of the family tend to be lean of build and long of face, with dark brown hair and grey eyes.
Winterfell is the ancestral castle and seat of power of House Stark and is considered to be the capital of the North. It is located in the center of the northern province of the Seven Kingdoms, on the kingsroad that runs from Storm's End to the Wall. It is situated at the eastern edge of the wolfswood, north of the western branch of the White Knife and Castle Cerwyn. Winterfell is south of the northern mountains and southwest of Long Lake, one hundred leagues (three hundred miles) southeast of Deepwood Motte.
Winterfell was supposedly built by Brandon the Builder over eight thousand years ago, with the help of giants. For most of recorded history Winterfell was the seat of House Stark, the Kings in the North and later as Wardens of the North, after King Torrhen Stark bent the knee to Aegon the Conqueror and his dragons. As the regional capital of the North, harvest feasts have been hosted in Winterfell for centuries.
Winterfell is a huge castle complex spanning several acres, consisting of two massive walls and a village located just outside called the "winter town". Winterfell itself has been built around an ancient godswood and over natural hot springs. The water is piped through walls and chambers to heat them, making Winterfell more comfortable than other castles during the harsh northern winters.
Inside the walls, the complex is composed of dozens of courtyards and small open spaces. Weapons training and practice take place in those yards. The inner ward is a second, much older open space in the castle where archery practice takes place. It is located next to the broken tower. Inside Winterfell stands the Inner Castle, which contains the Great Keep and the Great Hall.
Prior to The First Era
At the start of the first era (the reign of Renly Baratheon and the succession of his son Harys), Torrhen II Stark was Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North. Wed to Nymella Tully, Torrhen fathered at least 5 children (Edmure, Jojen, Ysela, Lyanna, and Symeon). Edmure, his eldest son, was a troublesome, foolish and arrogant young man who had an unmistakable cruel streak that made many lords proclaim him as more a Bolton than a Stark, even rumoring that he flayed enemies in secret, though nothing was proven. The eldest daughter and child Lyanna was betrothed to James Arryn, Lord of the Eyrie and the Vale. Torrhen died some time prior to the Battle of the Rainwood, leaving his son Edmure as the new Lord.
Edmure answered the call of Aemon Estermont to marshal his forces to the Rainwood, having been nearby attending the King's court in King's Landing. Though skeptical of Aemon's warning that wights were in the wood, he led his soldiers in that night with the other lords. Attacking the ambushing corpses with an iron spear rather than dragonglass almost killed the impetuous youth, and he only survived due to the intervention of Estermont and Ser Ulrich Dayne. Surviving the battle, he would later brag of surviving and defeating the undead along with most of the other combatants.
During the Tourney at Harrenhal, James Arryn was poisoned by Emmon Baelish, and Lyanna returned to the Vale pregnant with James' son Theon. Giving birth later that year, she would spend the first few years of her son's life in mourning at the Eyrie.
Attending the Tourney of Harrenhal as well, with his younger brother Jojen, Edmure inflamed tensions with House Lannister due to his behavior. Both brothers distinguished themselves in the melee and performed well in the jousting. Jojen later has an unexpected sexual encounter with Thaddius Lannister. Both pledge to keep it a secret, though both develop a romantic bond. Both Edmure and Jojen soon return to the North before tensions in the South boil over into war.
The North is taken by surprise at the daring Sack of King's Landing by the Lannisters, and take steps to secure their borders against attack. Edmure calls a council of his bannermen at Winterfell to discuss courses of action. The lords were split on whether to declare for King Harys or for the new Lannister King Damon. Edmure personally wished to not support either but instead lead the northmen south and kill indiscrimanantly, claiming the kingdom for himself. Jojen was appalled by this plan (as well as being influenced by his newfound love for Thaddius Lannister) and instead called for fealty to the Lannisters, seeing the odds stacked against the Baratheons and their allies. Split between actions, Lord Forrest Umber called for the two Starks to determine their indecision through combat, with the victor leading the northmen. Edmure and Jojen met in the wolfswood and dueled to the death despite their reservations (mostly on Jojen's side; Edmure seemed giddy at the opportunity and displayed a cruel smile to his brother beforehand). Though Jojen endured some injuries in the fighting, he gained the upper hand after crippling his brother and offered him the opportunity to yield. Scoffing, Edmure drew his dagger to try and kill Jojen, who subsequently decapitated him.
Now the new Lord of Winterfell, Jojen declared the North in support of Damon Lannister and marched south to the capital. He commanded the usurper forces alongside Thaddius Lannister during the battle of the Kingswood, where the last major opposition to the Lannisters was ended when the Tyrells and Baratheons were broken and King Harys slain. Jojen was confirmed as Warden of the North and returned home shortly afterwards.
Edmure Stark (deceased)