The Winterfell Crypts: Top Predictions & Theories for ‘Game of Thrones’

Winterfell Crypts

HBO Winterfell Crypts

The crypts of Winterfell are dark and mysterious – perhaps even more mysterious than you imagine. We’re constantly told in Game of Thrones that the crypts are safe, but are they really? The crypts may hold some dark secrets, according to some Game of Thrones theories, but some of those secrets may be more likely to see the light of day in the books than in the show. Here are the top theories about the crypts of Winterfell. This post has possible spoilers if any of these theories turn out to be true. 

Note: We have two very detailed stories with quotes from the books about two of these theories. To see a long, detailed story about a Great Other in the crypts, read Heavy’s story here. To see a long, detailed story about a dragon in the crypts, see Heavy’s story here.

Theory 1: The Night King Isn’t Really After Bran


The first theory is that the Night King isn’t really after Bran at all, but is after the “Night’s Queen,” who has been captured within the crypts for thousands of years. Many versions of this theory are circulating, but you can read one on Reddit here.

The idea is that the Night King wasn’t seen in the trailer because he’s not in the fight, but going to the crypts and using his army as a distraction. So instead of following Bran, he will go straight to the crypts. The idea is that the Night Queen was captured by Bran the Builder around the same time that he built the Wall to keep the Night King and his army out. The Queen was imprisoned so the Night King would never threaten man again, and is also the reason for the saying “There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.” The magic of the Starks kept the Night King from seeing exactly where his Queen was, and now he can ever since Theon took over Winterfell.

The idea is also that the Night King would be almost more moral than the other characters, in a way, since he waited thousands of years for his love.

This theory hasn’t really been foreshadowed in the show, which portrays the Night King as more of a weapon against man created by the Children of the Forest. But it’s an intriguing idea.

Theory 2: A Dragon Is in the Crypts

You can read a detailed article about this theory in Heavy’s story here



Winterfell is built directly over hot springs, according to the books, which are heated by the “furnaces of the world.” The only other two places they appear is in areas associated with dragons. In addition, only Winterfell and Dragonstone have gargoyles, which seems to hint at another connection. Perhaps the gargoyles are meant to bind dragons?

“The World of Ice and Fire,” in its Winterfell chapter reads:

Yet the smallfolk of Winterfell and the winter town have been known to claim that the springs are heated by the breath of a dragon that sleeps beneath the castle.”

Mushroom, who was the court fool for some very important Targaryens, also thought there was dragon activity below the castle. Mushroom was believed to be a “lackwit,” causing nobles to speak more freely around him.

Here’s one quote about his claim, from “The World of Ice and Fire” – Winterfell:

…We can dismiss Mushroom’s claim in his Testimony that the dragon Vermax left a clutch of eggs somewhere in the depths of Winterfell’s crypts, where the waters of the hot springs run close to the walls, while his rider treated with Cregan Stark at the start of the Dance of the Dragons…”

Remember that “The World of Ice and Fire” is written as history from a single maester’s perspective, so just because that particular maester dismisses Mushroom’s claim doesn’t mean that readers have to.

You can read a detailed article about this theory in Heavy’s story here, explaining more hints about a dragon in the crypts.  

Theory 3: The Great Other is Captured in the Crypts


Another theory is that the Winterfell crypts hide the “Great other” or the god of the night that is at odds with the Lord of Light.

To read more about this theory, see Heavy’s detailed story here. Below is just a brief glimpse of what’s in the article. 

We’re never told why the Stark’s castle is called Winterfell. It would make sense, though, if the God of Winter literally fell from power there. The name of the castle is a reminder of the fact that the Long Night is over and Winter has fallen. It might also mark the exact spot where Winter fell.

We’re also never told why the Starks are called the Kings of Winter, but it would make sense if the Starks essentially hold power over the God of Winter aka the Great Other. If you ruled over Ireland, you might be called the King of the Irish. If you rule over Winter, you might be called the King of Winter.

We’re also told several times that “there must always be a Stark in Winterfell,” but no one ever tells us why.

The crypts are built below the oldest building in Winterfell: the First Keep, as described in A Dance with Dragons and The World of Ice and Fire. The First Keep was built by a famous figure in the history of Westeros: Bran the Builder. He raised both Winterfell and the Wall thousands of years ago. Bran the Builder is also known to have built other famous, and still standing, structures. Bran the Builder built Winterfell after the Long Night.

Despite all the geological warmth coming from underground, it’s still a very cold place. Mostly. This is explained in A Dance with Dragons, The Turncloak:

The way was narrow and steep, the steps worn in the center by centuries of feet. They went single file—the serjeant with the lantern, then Theon and Lady Dustin, her other man behind them. He had always thought of the crypts as cold, and so they seemed in summer, but now as they descended the air grew warmer. Not warm, never warm, but warmer than above. Down there below the earth, it would seem, the chill was constant, unchanging.”

Many people have nightmares about the crypts in the books too, especially Jon. These nightmares hint at the existence of something more sinister in the crypts…

To read more about this theory, see Heavy’s detailed story here.

Theory 4: Dead Starks Will Come to Life


Another theory is that the dead Starks within the crypts will come to life, but it’s not known if Stark magic (it is believed that many Starks have the ability to warg, for example) would prevent them from serving the White Army.

All the dead Stark kings who are buried there have statues. Each of these statues have stone direwolves at their feet and an iron sword across their laps. A quote from A Game of Thrones, Eddard I:

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…”

Perhaps only the dead Starks who do not have an iron sword over their knees will rise and fight for the White Walkers. When Meera, Jojen and Bran hid in the crypts, they took some ancestral Stark swords, so not every grave is still protected. It was also said in the books that some of the swords were rusted and crumbling, and thus might no longer work anyway.

Here’s a quote from Old Nan in AGOT Bran IV about the Others not liking iron:

In that darkness, the Others came for the first time… They were cold things, dead things, that hated iron and fire and the touch of the sun, and every creature with hot blood in its veins. They swept over holdfasts and cities and kingdoms, felled heroes and armies by the score, riding their pale dead horses and leading hosts of the slain. All the swords of men could not stay their advance, and even maidens and suckling babes found no pity in them. They hunted the maids through frozen forests, and fed their dead servants on the flesh of human children.”

One possibility is that spearing the hearts of the dead Starks would prevent them from fighting for the Night King. When Benjen was left to die and turn, the Children of the Forest speared his heart with dragonglass, which allowed him to maintain his consciousness and his loyalties. He didn’t turn. Dragonglass was also used to create the Night King. So perhaps if the dead Starks do start fighting for the White Walkers, someone will accidentally spear one in the heart and turn them.

We have two very detailed stories with quotes from the books about two of these theories. To see a long, detailed story about a Great Other in the crypts, read Heavy’s story here. To see a long, detailed story about a dragon in the crypts, see Heavy’s story here.

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