Where is Hardhome?

The ruined town of Hardhome is northeast of Castle Black, at the end of Storrold’s point, north of the Wall, but alarmingly close.

map of the location of hardhome
© George RR Martin 2012, used with permission

At the end of episode 8 we leave Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane on a boat looking at the army of the dead. So where did they come from? And how far is the army of the dead from the Wall?

The Wall is 300 miles long – one of the few things we have a true scale for in Game of Thrones. That places Castle Black around 120 miles from Eastwatch-By-The-Sea. Hardhome is around 300 miles (as the crow walks) from Castle Black, but only 150 miles from Eastwatch. Assuming the dead walk slower than the living (2 miles an hour rather than 3), but need no sleep – the army of the dead could reach Eastwatch in just over three days. However I’m going to guess that’s not what the immediate future holds.

The other note is that Hardhome isn’t on the way to anywhere. The free folk clearly retreated there for defense, but it’s a dead end. They had nowhere to retreat to from there. They have no boats. So they knew what they were running from, and they must have been desperate to retreat to Hardhome. Jon was their only hope when he arrived with the ships. And the army of the white walkers didn’t arrive by accident – they were in pursuit. The wights are building an army too.

Anyway you cut it, the army of the dead and their White Walker commanders are alarmingly close at Hardhome, and their army is growing.

This map comes from the Lands of Ice and Fire, 12 poster maps that I illustrated for Game of Thrones. North of the Wall was one of the first to be completed. One small inconsistency between this and the original maps in the books is that the forest reaches out along Storrold’s Point all the way to Hardhome. This was changed to be consistent with the army of the dead pouring out of the Haunted Forest to assault Hardhome – slightly different to the last episode in the HBO series.

15 thoughts on “Where is Hardhome?”

  1. Here’s the thing: the White Walkers and Wights of the show don’t swim.

    I also note, that Hardhome is at the *Northern Tip* of a long peninsula.

    How did the Others reach it – they did not sail or swim.

    They must have walked, from at least Craster’s Keep.
    If their goal was to attack the Wall, or bypass it at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, they’ve diverted from that mission. Ostensibly, they could be after Jon, who may or may not be Azor Ahai, the Prince that was Promised, or someone else of magic import.

    1. Or they wanted to finish the free folk and increase their army size. Both good motives to go to Hardhome.

  2. Since the army of the dead cannot swim, nor fly, it will be a lot farther than 150 miles for them. Undoubtedly there are also some mountains, rivers, etc and stuff like that in between. Too many topological unknowns here.

    Lastly, isn’t the expression “as the crow flies”?

    1. The Nightswatch are known as the crows – so these crows walk. And walking, it’s around 150 miles. So it’s accurate for the walking dead too. As the (real) crow flies, it’s around 120 miles.

    1. In general there are no explicit scales. But relative distances this near to one another should be at least close. So 150-ish, with an emphasis on the ish.

        1. Agreed. But with a rough estimate on the order of a hundred miles or so, this close to the wall, I expect the distortions to be small.

  3. Thanks for the cool article. Yahoo wrote about your article (which is cool) but didn’t link back here (which is shitty). So anyway, thanks for contextualizing the scene, definitely didn’t get that sense from the show. Internet KUDOS!

  4. Can anyone explain, after season 5 episode “Hardhold”, in the next episode the Wildings and Crows are on the north side of the wall? Since they left by boat, why couldn’t they sail around? I missed something.

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