When Game Of Thrones released 14 photos of season 8’s second episode, the mysteriously titled “Game Of Thrones 69,” one image threw fans into a tizzy of speculation: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) sitting alone in front of Winterfell’s weirwood tree (seen below). As Bran’s powers as Westeros’ new, all-knowing Three-Eyed Raven increase, it’s impossible not to wonder how weirwoods are involved in Thrones’ endgame. Especially since Bran downloaded his supernatural abilities in season 6’s “Hold The Door” through the mystical looking fauna and they're the lynch pin of the final season's leading theory. Now, Bran is planning to face the Night King next to a weirwood in Winterfell's godswood.
Something is up, and you're going to need to know everything possible about weirwood trees to find out. So we decided to dig into all things weirwood. Ahead, learn what a weirwood tree’s powers are, their bloody history, and how they connect Bran, the Night King, and, possibly, the fate of Westeros.
What is a weirwood tree in Game Of Thrones?
At its most basic, a weirwood is a gigantic white tree that was originally found throughout Westeros. As Westeros was invaded by various tribes — especially the Seven-worshipping Andals — weirwoods were chopped down at an increasing rate. Despite its startlingly pale bark, weirwood trees have blood red leaves.
Why do weirwood trees have faces?
Although fans almost always see weirwood tress with faces in their trunks, they do not naturally grow that way. Instead, back in the ancient times of Westeros, the Children of the Forest carved faces into the trees as part of their magic-and-nature-based religion, which is built around the Old Gods. The reason weirwoods are still around centuries later is because weirwoods live, and keep growing, for an undefinable amount of time.
After all, the Children haven’t been seen in at least 6,000 years. That means these trees have been standing for that same amount of time, if not longer.
What are a weirwood tree’s powers?
The Children see the carved faces in weirwood trees as representations of the Old Gods, if not physical manifestations of the Old Gods themselves. The Children also believe that by carving faces into the supposedly supernatural trees, they, and greenseers like Bran and the late Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster), will be able to witness whatever these ageless trees observe. The weirwoods can all communicate their observations to each other, like Westerosi internet. That is why individuals who follow the Old Gods pray at the base of weirwoods and also perform important ceremonies — like their Night’s Watch vows — in front of them.
It is unclear how the Children came to this conclusion and how, exactly, the weirwoods gained this power. That aforementioned popular Reddit theory suggests there is a supreme weirwood — either in the mysterious God’s Eye near King’s Landing or north of the Wall — that supplies Westeros with all of its magic. Therefore, the “Grand Weirwood,” as redditor Zyuko22 calls it, would be the cause of the weirwoods’ powers, along with the magic of the Children of the Forest, the Night King, and people like Bran.
Why is the weirwood tree in Winterfell important?
There is nothing extraordinary about Winterfell’s weirwood tree. However, it does give the Stark family a central place of worship and helps to capture their most private moments in the weirwood network. This way, people with the sight like Bran, can witness those memories at any point.
What is a godswood?
In “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” Bran announces he’ll wait for the Night King in Winterfell’s godswood. Like Winterfell’s weirwood, a godswood in itself isn’t particularly special. However, the castle’s godswood, like all other godswoods, does stand as a holy place for individuals who follow the Old Gods. A godswood is traditionally a small wooded area inside of a Westerosi castle where a family can worship and commune with their nature-based deities. A weirwood stands at the center of a godswood.
Considering who follows the Old Gods, you'll almost always find a godswood in a Northern castle. If there is a godswood in a Southern space, it isn't exactly religious and is instead a place for deep contemplation.
Is Bran’s status as the Three-Eyed Raven connected to the trees?
Yes, technically. That is how Bran accesses many of the historical Westerosi moments he has seen over the years. However, the series has opened up his powers past the observations of weirwood trees, since he has witnessed everything from Young Ned’s (Robert Aramayo) discovery of Lyanna Stark’s (Aisling Franciosi) birthing chamber near Dorne to the Red Keep’s throne room during the reign of Aerys Targaryen (David Rintoul). Neither of those events occurred in front of a weirwood tree.
Chalk this one up to creative license.
Where can you find a weirwood tree in Game Of Thrones?
As previously mentioned, the human invaders wiped out most of the weirwoods thousands of years ago during their conquest of Westeros. The First Men originally chopped down the trees, which led to a war with the Children. That battle ended with a pact of friendliness where the First Men accepted the Old Gods as their own and chose to protect weirwoods. That is why you can find them throughout the North.
Then, when the Andals arrived, the group mostly eradicated the trees throughout Westeros below the North. One of the few places the trees remain is in the Isle Of Faces, which is named for the many carved weirwoods flourishing there. The Isle is an island surrounded by the God’s Eye lake; it is slightly northwest of King’s Landing. The pact between the First Men and the Children were signed on the Isle. The current Westerosi believe the island is magical, and Game Of Thrones has yet to visit it.
Why do weirwood trees cry blood?
It’s completely possible there’s a supernatural reason for this (the Children did believe their ancestors entered the trees after death). But, right now, we can blame that very creepy tendency on the trees’ sap simply being red. So, it’s not really blood.
Are weirwood tress and the Night King connected?
Season 6’s “Hold The Door” gives us our best explanation for the Night King’s connection to weirwood trees. Bran travels with the original Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow) to the day the Children made the Night King as their warrior against the humans killing their trees and desecrating their land. The location is the “Grand Weirwood,” which, again, is either on the Isle Of Faces or above the Wall. The spiral symbol spotted in the season 8 premiere can be seen from above in rock formation at the Grand Weirwood.
Bran then visits the space again on his own, and sees that it is now frozen and surrounded by the army of the dead. Then, he finds the Night King presiding over the horde. The icy king touches Bran, marking him and setting in motion his invasion of the Children’s last weirwood hideout and, eventually, Westeros itself.
If the Night King could mark Bran though the use of Weirwood tress, that suggests the connection could go the other way. It is possible for Bran to “mark,” and possibly defeat the Night King through his Three-Eyed Raven status and a weirwood tree? After all, the trees, Bran’s powers, and the Night King may all live off of the same magic?
Do any other Game of Thrones characters have a connection to weirwood trees?
Yes, but we haven’t met him. Throughout Game Of Thrones, it is suggested Howland Reed, father of Jojen and Meera Redd (Ellie Kendrick), spent time at the mystical Isle Of Faces before entering the Starks lives. Howland is the person who accompanied Ned on his mission to “save” Lyanna, has greenseer powers like Jojen and Bran, and sent his children to help Bran get to the Three-Eyed Raven during Thrones season 3.
If Howland has had access to countless thriving weirwoods, has played a huge hand in Bran’s journey, and knows all about Lyanna’s pregnancy, the question remains: what is his final purpose in Game of Thrones?