On the trail of Game of Thrones in Ireland and Scotland

TV show
Westeros, from the Northern Lands to the Stormlands to the Iron Islands, discover these Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Réalité/Fiction Game of Thrones
Réalité/Fiction Game of Thrones

Travel across Scotland and Northern Ireland in the footsteps of Game of Thrones

The British Isles have hosted many of the great scenes from Game of Thrones from the very beginning of the series. While all the indoor scenes are shot in Belfast, in the Paint Hall (Titanic Studios), the lush green plains, menacing cliffs and ruined castle of Ireland and Scotland have been borrowed to feature many of the landscapes from G.R.R. Martin’s world since the very first episode.

The Wall and Castle Black

What is more special about Westeros than its gigantic Wall of Ice, which for 8,000 years has separated people from forgotten dangers? And where do we find this Wall? Northern Ireland. Magheramorne’s abandoned career was converted into a film studio for Game of Thrones. The Wall, Castle Black (seat of the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch), but also Durlieu (Hardhome, season 5 episode 8) were filmed here.

The decorations are grandiose: a large part of Châteaunoir has been reconstructed. Remember the impressive shot in the courtyard during the battle against the savages (season 4 episode 9) but also all the scenes in the roukerie, the canteen and the barracks…

The wall
The Wall. All rights reserved: HBO.

The base of the Ice Wall from Game of Thrones is also visible, as it is actually the stone wall left by the quarry, against which a medieval elevator that actually works was built.

The Wall

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his comrades-in-arms, including Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) travel to the other side of the Wall to capture a White Walker. It is then that they see the mountain that Sandor Clegane saw in one of his visions on the horizon. Kirkjufell culminates at 463 meters high. It is one of the most touristic natural sites in Iceland. Research has established that during the Ice Age, Kirkjufell outpaced the surrounding glaciers. It is composed of several strata of lava and sandstone of the Pleistocene.

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Beyond the Wall

The ice landscapes of Game of Thrones are in Iceland, but Tollymore Forest Park, located in Bryansford, near Newcastle, served as the Haunted Forest. This is where the scenes were shot where the White Walkers are seen for the first time, adding artificial snow in the middle of the trees.

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Beyond the Wall

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his comrades-in-arms, including Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) travel to the other side of the Wall to capture a White Walker. It is then that they see the mountain that Sandor Clegane saw in one of his visions on the horizon. Kirkjufell culminates at 463 meters high. It is one of the most touristic natural sites in Iceland. Research has established that during the Ice Age, Kirkjufell outpaced the surrounding glaciers. It is composed of several strata of lava and sandstone of the Pleistocene.

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Tollymore Forest
Tollymore Forest by Gilles Rolland.

Winterfell and the North

The opening scene in which Ned Stark executes a deserter from the Night’s Watch in the presence of his sons? It was shot on the set of Antrim. The Glens of Antrim (the Antrim Valleys) are a series of nine mountains and valleys not far from the sea.

It was also there that scenes from the Stormy Land were shot (the introduction of Brienne de Torth in the series), but also scenes supposed to take place far away from Westeros, in the Dothraki Sea (see Shillanavogy Valley).

Scene in the courtyard of Winterfell castle in Game of Thrones
Scene in the courtyard of Winterfell Castle in Game of Thrones – Credit: HBO

The fortress of Winterfell, seat of the Stark family in Game of Thrones? Part of it is Castle Ward, a castle located south of Belfast built in the 18th century. A 332-hectare estate with hiking trails, exotic garden and a small farmyard. But shots of the pilot of the series were also shot in front of the impressive castle of Dounce in Scotland (built in 1400).


Winterfell is the stronghold of the Stark family. As one of the most powerful families in the Seven Crowns, she was obliged to live in a castle at their height. It has its roots in the Castle Ward in Strangford. An 18th century building owned by the National Trust, Castle Ward overlooks the beautiful Strangford Lough. Castle Ward is used several times for close-up shots. All the sequences taking place in the courtyard are filmed here. Nevertheless, the various directors also operate the Doune Castle in Scotland.

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Le Conflans, from Vivesaigues to the Twins

Need a land of plains, rivers and swamps? You don’t have to go very far. The region of the Abbey of Inch does the job perfectly. These ruins are more than 800 years old and are located on a beautiful site, which was once an island in the middle of the marshes.

The Quoile River lends its banks to the Ruffurque several times in Game of Thrones When Catelyn Stark goes to negotiate a treaty with the old and devious Walder Frey in his double fortress of the Twins, but also during the scene of the funeral of her father, Hoster Tully, or when Arya Stark and Sanfor Clegane (the Hound) wander on horseback in the lands of the Conflans.

The Twins

Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his army arrive at the gates of the Twins, the Frey family estate. Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) then encourages him to negotiate the passage with Walder Frey (David Bradley), the master of the house. A sequence produced in front of Audley Castle, not far from Castle Ward, the castle used to “build” Winterfell. Audley Castle consists of a three-story tower, a courtyard and a small wall. Located on the Castle Ward estate, it was once near a town called Audleystone. The city has disappeared since the departure of the inhabitants for America in the 1850s. Audley Castle is now an integral part of a public park.

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The Twins
The Twins. All rights reserved: HBO.

The Banbridge area was also used to turn the siege of Vivesaigues.

Finally, in episode 1 of season 2, Arya Stark, hidden among the recruits of the Night’s Watch, takes a road in the middle of an impressive forest. No forest actually, but a beautiful beech alley called the Dark Hedges, located near Ballymoney.

Game of Thrones Hoodie
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Game of Thrones Hoodie

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Cave of Storm’s End

Much further down on the map of Westeros are the Terres de L’Orage, territories of the house Baratheon. The underwater tunnel that Ser Davos Mervault uses to introduce Mélisandre, the Red Witch, under the fortress of Accalmie?

It’s the Cushendun Caves, you can visit it. The place where Renly Baratheon gives a tournament that Brienne de Torth wins? That’s Larrybane Bay, which is near Antrim County that we were talking about earlier.

Cave of Storm’s End

Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) wants more than anything to take the Iron Throne. However, many suitors stand in her way, including her own brother Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony). Then Melisandre (Carice van Houten), a witch from Asshai, gives birth to a shadow creature in the caves of Storm’s End to help her eliminate the competition. Very accessible, near the village of Cushendun, these caves border the beach and do not require any authorization to visit. Consisting of several cavities, one of which is very large, the site is nevertheless subject to the vagaries of the climate. The water entering the caves with the tides. They are formed by erosion. Their walls with irregular contours are inhabited by small mollusks. These caves reveal almost all their mysteries in clear weather, when the light penetrates to the bottom and chases away the most disturbing shadows.

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Cushendun Caves
Cushendun caves by Gilles Rolland.

The Iron Islands

The British Isles were obviously perfect to represent the severe and desolate Iron Islands. Further up the coast of Northern Ireland, we pass by several sites used for the filming of Game of Thrones Carrick-a-rede rope Bridge, for example.

To represent Pyke, the ancestral home of the Greyjoy house set on a series of rocky peaks, Games Of Thrones went to Dunluce Castle. Perched on a cliff, it was built in the 16th century by the MacQuillans, who were later driven out by another Scottish clan, the MacDonnells.

Legend has it that the castle’s kitchens collapsed into the sea, killing 7 people, forcing the occupants to abandon the castle… A perfect legend for Pyke, which is also a castle whose towers, connected by unstable rope bridges, are only the remains of the ancient castle of yesteryear.

Port of Pyke. All rights reserved: HBO.

And how are we doing in Pyke? By docking in the nearest port. Port depicted by Ballintoy Harbour. The charming harbor village of Ballintoy, located on the Antrim coast, is where Theon Greyjoy lands at the beginning of season 2 of Game of Thrones.

Port of Pyk

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) returns to the Iron Islands after ten years as Lord Eddard Stark’s (Sean Bean) ward at Winterfell. He docks in the small port of Pyk and goes to his father’s castle. A well-known port in the Giant’s Causeway region, located in Ballintoy. Less than 200 people live in Ballintoy year round. Nevertheless, many tourists flock there because of the popularity that the place has acquired thanks to Game of Thrones. The proximity of the Giant’s Causeway also contributes to make it an unmissable stop. Ballintoy has several sites of interest such as its church, pub, Fullerton Arm, Dunseverick Castle, Carrick-a-Rede code bridge and Sheep Island, also located nearby.

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Dragonstone, the ancient fortress of the Targaryens

In the world of Westeros, the Iron Islands and the island of Dragonstone are located far away from each other. In our world, they’re much closer. Dragonstone with its imposing special-effects fortress set on menacing cliffs, is also in Northern Ireland.

However, the castle itself, as well as the beach of Dragonstone are actually located in Spain, in the Basque Country, in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and Itzurun.

Dragonstone Steps. All rights reserved: HBO.


It is after a long journey that Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) finally arrives in Dragonstone, the ancestral stronghold of her family. She climbs the many steps leading to the castle, which she appropriates before the great battle for the throne begins. A site partly shaped from the Basque peninsula of Gaztelugatxe in Spain. Gaztelugatxe is connected to the beach by a stone bridge with 241 steps carved into the rock. The staircase was converted into a Way of the Cross for pilgrims. The latter have been going there since the Middle Ages, since the construction of the buildings in the 9th and 10th centuries. Having played a role in the history of the Templars, partially destroyed by fire in 1978, the site, because of its spectacular character and the role it plays in the series Game of Thrones, receives a large number of visits each year.

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At the beginning of Season 2, in “The North Remembers”, the Red Priestess Melisandre burns the wooden statues of the Septuary of the ancient fortress of the Targaryens. The scene was shot in County Derry, in front of the small Mussenden Temple, built in 1785.

Many other locations are used for the shooting of Game Of Thrones. Feel free to add your photos and information about Fantrippers!

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By Gilles Rolland

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Passionné de cinéma, de rock and roll, de séries TV et de littérature. Rédacteur de presse et auteur des livres Le Heavy Metal au cinéma, Paroles de fans Guns N' Roses, Paroles de fans Rammstein et Welcome to my Jungle : 100 albums rock et autres anecdotes dépareillées. Adore également voyager à la recherche des lieux les plus emblématiques de la pop culture.

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