We see that for most (all?) of season 7 of Game of Thrones, the Stark bannermen and the Lord(s?) of the Vale are stationed in Winterfell.

Why? Don't they have their castles/holds to tend to?

In "Eastwatch" (Game of Thrones, S07E05), they complain that Jon "King in the North" Snow is not "in the north" to tend to his duties. Doesn't this also apply to them?

  • 8
    There is no evidence to suggest they are always there. It seems more reasonable to assume that they have monthly meetings. Understand that weeks can pass within an episode (consider Sansa's line: I haven't heard from [Jon] in weeks). Aug 17, 2017 at 6:47
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    They are there waiting for the Night's King and Battle for Dawn II. They can't go home. If they do, how long will it take to reassemble once the real enemy is there? Dispersing your forces is a fatal mistake even against human foes as Edmure Tully learnt in starting days of War of the Five Kings.
    – Aegon
    Aug 17, 2017 at 6:48
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    @GhotiandChips It may be true for Northern Lords but Valemen can't be expected to take the long road to Vale and back every month or so in Winter Roads.
    – Aegon
    Aug 17, 2017 at 6:49
  • @Aegon I agree with that much. The Waynwoods are in charge of the Vale, now, though, as we see Arya and The Hound run into them at the bloody gate. Aug 17, 2017 at 6:50
  • @OP, however, it must be noted Meera returns to Greywater Watch to be with her family when the Wall comes crashing down. Lord Reed and his family are at their home. Perhaps Northern Lords from nearby castles stay at their own castles as well. Their armies are peasants however, not standing modern armies. They come once their liege Lords call but it takes a lot of time to reassemble your levies again
    – Aegon
    Aug 17, 2017 at 6:51

1 Answer 1



While answering another question, I stumbled upon a part of the script that reveals more information.

In S07E03, Sansa talks about the food stores of Winterfell:

(Sansa in italics)

How much do we have?
- 4,000 bushels, my lady.
What does that mean?
- For the current occupants of the castle, it's enough food for a year, perhaps more.
And what's the longest winter in the past hundred years?
- Uh, I'm not entirely certain. I-I'll check Maester Luwin's records. He kept a copy of every raven scroll.
You're telling me we don't have enough food, especially not if the armies of the North come back to defend Winterfell?
- No, my lady, most likely not.

This means that at least a significant amount of the forces has actually returned home.
There might be small exceptions to this, e.g. a subset of the Knight of the Vale who have stayed behind with Littlefinger, who seems to be residing in Winterfell for now.

So it would stand to reason that the forces have gone back home, and the Lords simply return whenever a meeting is held.

My original answer

Winter is here. There is no more time to lose. The Northmen are expecting an attack from the White Walkers at any time.

While this may be weeks or months, you need to observe how long it would take to reassemble the army if you let them disband for the time being. It would take weeks to get everyone back to Winterfell, fully armed and ready to go.

You need to distinguish between the lords and the armies here. An army is slow to mobilize, but a lord can travel more easily.

(edit the following paragraph is wrong, see update)
Instead, the army stays there, so that they can mobilize when needed. This also allows them to train. Since they are already feeling ill equipped to battle the Walkers' army, and they are essentially fighting for humanity, it stands to reason that they are training their men.
It has been mentioned a few times by Sansa that storing food for the future is a problem. But Winterfell is not besieged by any issues with its food production (at least, none are mentioned in the show). However, having a large army near Winterfell will make a sizeable dent in the food supplies, therefore depleting the food stores faster and requiring more food to be stored for winter.

However, about the lords staying in Winterfell, that could be different. It's possible that the lords return home inbetween meetings. There are considerable time gaps in the current season (Jon's travels seem to take no time, but he's traveling most of the continent. Compare that to Robert and Cersei's trip from King's Landing to Winterfell, which took weeks according to Cersei).

Then again, Littlefinger does appear to be staying there permanently. It's not impossible for some lords to stay in Winterfell, even if some others return home. This could correspond to how far they have to travel, or in Littlefinger's case, because he's gathering intel.

  • If a paragraph is wrong, delete it.
    – T.J.L.
    Oct 2, 2019 at 17:51

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