Weirwood

Weirwood trees were sacred to the Children of the Forest. They used it for religious, medicinal, and construction purposes.

The Definitive Glossary for Game of Thrones

Weirwood is a species of tree native to Westeros. The deciduous tree once covered most of the regions of Westeros, except the Iron Islands, until the arrival of the First Men and later the Andals. After the Andal Invasion, most of the weirwood got cut from southern Westeros, leaving the North and beyond the Wall as the only place where weirwoods remained untouched. They also got used by greenseers to glimpse into the past and present.

Appearance and Description

Weirwood is an unusual-looking tree with bone-white wood and blood-red sap. It has wide trunks and smooth bark, unlike most trees, and gives the impression that it got sand-filed to near perfection. The tree has five-pointed leaves, which are palmate and the same color as its sap. On the trees, there are faces; these got carved by the Children of the Forest. The faces appear to have red eyes that shed blood. Weirwood is an eternal tree because it can live forever when untampered.

Relevance in the Religion of the North

Weirwoods are sacred trees that hold religious significance to those that serve the Old Gods of the Forest. It got worshipped by the Children of the Forest, who saw the trees as gods. Among the Children, some were born with an ability called greensight. The greenseers could look through the faces carved on the tree. As the trees had no sense of time, they showed the greenseers the past and present.

After the arrival of the First Men, the Children made peace and taught them the ways of the Old Gods of the Forest. The First Men inculcated religion into their culture and began using weirwood for prayers and many social events. They used it as a witness to weddings, to detect falsehood, and in extreme cases, used its branches to hang the innards of the condemned. In the Iron Islands, the ironborn have a tale of a demon tree Ygg, which had pale-looking wood and ate human flesh.

Economic Relevance of Weirwood

Though weirwood is a religious entity to the Free Folk, the North, and Children of the Forest, it has many uses. One use is in construction. Because of its longevity, the tree is an excellent choice for furniture and making weapons. Many people in Westeros and beyond used it for making weapons ranging from spears to bows. What gave weirwood a structural advantage over other trees was that it could never rot. In King’s Landing, the kingsguard used weirwood for constructing its meeting table. 

Weirwood got used by the Night’s Watch to build the Black Gate of the Nightfort, the largest castle of the Watch. Even beyond Westeros, it got used, as in Braavos, the House of Black and White, home to the Faceless Men, used it for the main door to the temple. In the House of the Undying, the doors to the splendor of wizards used weirwood as its primary material.

Though weirwood has many structural benefits, it is one of the most expensive woods. The reason for its low supply is human-driven deforestation caused by the Andals and the First Men.

Relevance to History

Before the arrival of the men, weirwoods covered most of Westeros. As the continent belonged to the Children of the Forest and Giants, the tree thrived on the continent. During the Dawn Age, the Children began carving faces into the trees, but then the First Men migrated.

Using the Arm of Dorne, the First Men entered Westeros and began settling in. The arrival of men led to the rapid cutting of trees and the construction of villages. When the carved trees got cut down, the Children raged and waged war against men.

In fear of not wanting the greenseers to spy on them, the First Men cut down more weirwood, intensifying the conflict between them and the Children. After centuries of warring, they agreed to peace and signed a pact that led to the creation of the Isle of Faces.

An Era of Peace

After the pact got signed between the Children and First Men, peace reigned in Westeros. The Children brought the religion of the Old Gods to the First Man, and they built godswoods within their castle walls as places of worship. The Children and First Men lived in peace for four thousand years, and Westeros prospered.

Andal Invasion

After millennia of peace between the Children and First Men, the Andals migrated to Westeros. Upon arriving, the more brutal Andals destroyed weirwoods rapidly as they believed the Old Gods to be demonic.

Though the First Men tried fighting with the Children in the weirwood alliance, they were no match for the better technologies of the Andals. The arrival of the Andals led to the destruction of the trees in southern Westeros. In 2 BC, Aegon Targaryen invaded the seven kingdoms and conquered as far as Winterfell with the power of the dragons. By 700 BC, most trees, except those in the North and beyond the Wall, got cut into extinction.

Relevance in A Song of Ice and Fire

A Game of Thrones

When Lord Eddard Stark returns from killing Gared, a deserter of the Night’s Watch, Catelyn heads to see him in the godswood. Ned tells her the Night’s Watch is dwindling at an alarming rate as more men desert. Catelyn then tells him of Jon Arryn’s death and Robert Baratheon’s letter.

After Ned leaves Winterfell with Arya Stark and Sansa, Jon Snow travels to join the Night’s Watch. He meets Samwell Tarly, and after training to become brothers of the Watch, they both take their vows at a weirwood groove in the haunted forest.

A Clash of Kings

After Eddard Stark gets killed, his son, Robb Stark, gets crowned King in the North. Joffrey assumes the Iron Throne and Civil War begins between the Starks and Lannisters. At Castle Black, Jon joins Qhorin Halfhand to infiltrate Mance Rayder’s camp.

At Whitetree, a village beyond the Wall, Jon sees a gigantic weirwood tree. Meanwhile, after meeting Jaqen at Harrenhal, Arya prays before the weirwood of Harrenhal before its fall. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, Tyrion Lannister assumes the title of Hand of the King and protects the city from Stannis Baratheon.

A Storm of Swords

When Bran Stark, Jojen Reed, Meera Reed, Osha, Hodor, and Rickon escape Winterfell, they split ways, and Bran heads with his friends to seek out the three-eyed crow. Meanwhile, Robb stark and his mother get killed by Walder Frey during the Red Wedding.

A Dance of Dragons

Before Varamyr Sixskins dies, he sees through the eyes of a carved weirwood tree. When Mance Rayder gets arrested by Stannis, he gets sentenced to death. A pyre made from weirwood gets built, and he is burnt alive. Later, Melisandre reveals to Jon that she changed Mance’s appearance and killed Rattleshirt instead.

Relevance in Adaptations

In HBO Max’s Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, weirwoods got featured. In Game of Thrones, Bran uses the tree’s eyes to see the events happening in Westeros after seeing the three-eyed raven. In House of the Dragon, a weirwood tree got featured when Ser Criston Cole almost killed himself.

Weirwood: Relics of the Past

In A Song of Ice and Fire, weirwoods serve as a relic of a long-forgotten past. Their presence was a reminder of how destructive humans can get. Before the arrival of men, Westeros thrived with life and nature. The continent was one with its creatures, and peace reigned. However, when humans stepped on the continent, everything plunged into chaos.

FAQs

Why do the weirwood trees have faces?

The faces on the weirwood got carved by the Children of the Forest. As they believed the trees were gods, they made faces at them. Later, greenseers began using the faces carved onto the trees to see into the past and present.

Why is there a weirwood tree in House of the Dragon?

In the HBO series, a weirwood tree got spotted in the Red Keep. At the time of the Dance of the Dragons, some people worshipped the Old Gods of the Forest in King’s Landing.

Is there any tree close to the weirwood in real life?

No tree is close to having the same properties as weirwood. First, it has blood-red sap, which is rare as the weather conditions it grows in are bizarre. Besides that, it gives abilities that make special people glance into the past and present; this makes it a fictional tree not rooted in reality.

What is the purpose of the weirwood?

The weirwood is a relic that shows a hidden part of Westeros’s history. As the tree grew during the Children of the Forest and Giants’ era, it has the answers to the secrets of the continent, secrets unexplored by the humans that came during the Dawn Age.

Were weirwoods gods?

Though the Children of the Forest worshipped weirwood trees as gods, the trees were not gods. However, with the carved faces on them, they could be used by greenseers to glimpse into the past. Also, they could get used to seeing the present.

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