The Winterfell Huis Clos


House Cerwyn, House Hornwood, and House Tallhart play a secondary role both in the events that lead to the Sack of Winterfell and to the events around the Winterfell Wedding. All three are in an unclear situation with respect to inheritance, and current leadership.

All three have some men with Stannis, as the king wrote to Jon Snow.
Fisherfolk, freeriders, hillmen, crofters from the deep of the wolfswood and villagers who fled their homes along the stony shore to escape the ironmen, survivors from the battle outside the gates of Winterfell, men once sworn to the Hornwoods, the Cerwyns, and the Tallharts.
(Jon VI, ADwD)

All three houses sent their banners with Lady Dustin in Barrow Hall before Roose comes back from the south, as Melisandre saw in her flames.
The red priestess slid closer to the king. “I saw a town with wooden walls and wooden streets, filled with men. Banners flew above its walls: a moose, a battle-axe, three pine trees, longaxes crossed beneath a crown, a horse’s head with fiery eyes.”
“Hornwood, Cerwyn, Tallhart, Ryswell, and Dustin,” supplied Ser Clayton Suggs. “Traitors, all. Lapdogs of the Lannisters.”
(Jon IV, ADwD)

And again in Barrow Hall, with several other houses, when Roose summoned all northern lords to declare fealty. And again in Winterfell for the wedding.

There are Hornwood and Cerwyn men with Ramsay and Whoresbane.
“The Whoresbane his own self,” claimed a riverman who’d just brought a load of hides and timber down the White Knife, “with three hundred spear-men and a hundred archers. Some Hornwood men have joined them, and Cerwyns too.”
(Davos II,ADwD)

All three houses have been spared the Red Wedding by Roose.
Bolton’s voice was soft, but certain. “I left six hundred men at the ford. Spearmen from the rills, the mountains, and the White Knife, a hundred Hornwood longbows, some freeriders
and hedge knights, and a strong force of Stout and Cerwyn men to stiffen them. Ronnel Stout and Ser Kyle Condon have the command. Ser Kyle was the late Lord Cerwyn’s right hand, as I’m sure you know, my lady. Lions swim no better than wolves. So long as the river runs high, Ser Gregor will not cross.”
(Catelyn VI, ASoS)

Just before Roose had sent the Tallharts to Duskendale, while avoiding the blame.
“Your Grace is too kind. I suffered grievous losses on the Green Fork, and Glover and Tallhart worse at Duskendale.”
“Duskendale.” Robb made the word a curse. “Robett Glover will answer for that when I see him, I promise you.”
(Catelyn VI, ASoS)

Houses Cerwyn, Hornwood and Tallhart are not among the more important northern house, and they are not properly led at the moment. So they were hardly active players in Winterfell. But they seemed to play the role of northern public opinion, the very people Roose hoped to sway when he vilified Stannis' new red god, and when he invokes true northmen, the people Barbrey Dustin wants to win to her side when she tells the Freys the north remember.

  1. House Hornwood
  2. House Cerwyn
  3. House Tallhart
  4. Roose and Barbrey

1. House Hornwood

Let's begin with House Hornwood. Its banner is the moose. Lord Hornwood and his heir died at the Whispering Wood, leaving Donella Hornwood, née Manderly, as a widow and without a heir.

The question of Hornwood inheritance is raised at the Harvest Feast in Winterfell. We have a bastard of Lord Hornwood, Larence Snow, fostered at Deepwood Motte, and taken by the ironmen. We have Lord Hornwood's sister, Berena Hornwood, widow of Leobald Tallhart, and seemingly prisoner of the ironmen at Torrhen's Square with her two sons.

Donella has been kidnapped, wedded and bedded at swordpoint by Ramsay on her return from the Harvest Feast. Wyman Manderly reacted by occupying the Hornwood castle. Lady Hornwood was left starving to death in a tower (where?). We do not have much detail about what happened later. Ramsay seems to be the lord of Hornwood. But it seems contested by Manderly, at least until he swore fealty to Roose Bolton.
Roose Bolton, who is named our Warden of the North, requires that I give up my claim to Lord Hornwood’s lands and castles but swears my other holdings shall remain untouched.
(Davos III, ADwD)

It's not clear that Manderly ever left the Hornwood after having it conquered and that Ramsay ever set foot there. It tend to believe he didn't.

In any case, Ramsay's children should not inherit the Hornwood, unless the liege lord decides so. Both Berena Hornwood, as Lord Hornwood's sister, and Larence Snow, as Lord Hornwood's bastard, might claim inheritance. That situation is conductive of tension between house Tallhart, which would support Berena and house Glover, which has fostered Larence. Both Berena and Larence are prisoners of ironmen (of Dagmer Cleftjaw and Lord Harlaw respectively).

We have a sign of Hornwood men at the wedding.
“First winter I remember, the snows came over my head,” said a Hornwood man in the queue ahead of him.
(The Turncloak, ADwD)

The maester of the Hornwood, Medrick is in the service of Roose in Winterfell.

2. House Cerwyn

House Cerwyn is seated at Castle Cerwyn, half a day away from Winterfell. Their sigil is a black axe. Lord Cerwyn was taken prisoner by the Lannisters at the Green Fork. He died in Harrenhal. His heir Cley, a good friend of the Starks, died during the sack of Winterfell. Lord Cerwyn's daughter, Jonella, is alive and has not married yet.
Soft-spoken Lord Cerwyn had actually brought his daughter with him, a plump, homely maid of thirty years who sat at her father’s left hand and never lifted her eyes from her plate.
(Bran VI, AGoT)
He has ambitions for his daughter.
“Lord Cerwyn means to take his daughter south with us. To cook for him, he says. Theon is certain I’ll find the girl in my bedroll one night. I wish ... I wish Father was here ...”
(Bran VI, AGoT)

It doesn't seem Jonella went south, unless she came home when her father died in Harrenhal. Lord Cerwyn's bones were sent home.
Then one morning she spied three women in the cowled grey robes of the silent sisters loading a corpse into their wagon. The body was sewn into a cloak of the finest silk, decorated with a battle-axe sigil. When Arya asked who it was, one of the guards told her that Lord Cerwyn had died.
(Arya VI, ACoK)

We do not know if those bones came home. That would be an interesting point of comparison with Ned Stark's bones, which are awaited in Winterfell.

In any case, the Cerwyn banner floated above Barrow Hall before Roose's host came back from Moat Cailin.

Lady Cerwyn signed the letters that summoned all lords to Barrowton to affirm fealty to Roose Bolton and that threatened the iron born in Deepwood Motte.

We have an early sign of hostility between Cerwyns and Boltons.
Only two days ago one of Lord Bolton’s men knifed one of Lord Cerwyn’s at the Smoking Log.
(Bran VI, AGoT)
And a sign of rivalry with with the Umbers.
And when Lord Umber, who was called the Greatjon by his men and stood as tall as Hodor and twice as wide, threatened to take his forces home if he was placed behind the Hornwoods or the Cerwyns in the order of march, Robb told him he was welcome to do so.
(Bran VI, AGoT)

In any case, it is a mystery why Lady Cerwyn does not attend the wedding in Winterfell, especially since she was at Barrowton with all the other lords. Indeed she signed the letters sent by Roose to summon all northern nobility to Barrowton. We know she is not present since Theon thinks.
Theon would have known an imposter. If he was seen to accept Bolton’s feigned girl as Arya, the northern lords who had gathered to bear witness to the match would have no grounds to question her legitimacy.
Stout and Slate, Whoresbane Umber, the quarrelsome Ryswells, Hornwood men and Cerwyn cousins, fat Lord Wyman Manderly ...
(The Prince of Winterfell, ADwD)

So it seems that no Cerwyn highborn is present at the wedding. Lady Cerwyn would in all likehood have recognized Arya. Indeed, Castle Cerwyn is close to Winterfell, and Jonella has certainly paid many visits, especially since their houses were on good terms.
She did remember Lord Cerwyn, though. His lands had been close to Winterfell, so he and his son Cley had often visited.
(Arya VII, ACoK)

A sign that Cerwyn men are present in Winterfell.
“All day and all night, might be even longer,” insisted one big, black-bearded archer with a Cerwyn axe sewn on his breast.
(The Turncloak, ADwD)

The maester of House Cerwyn, Rhodry, is in the service of Roose in Winterfell.

3. House Tallhart

House Tallhart is seated at Torrhen Square. Hellman Tallhart died at Duskendale, sent there with Robett Glover by Roose Bolton's command, as part of the preparation of the Red Wedding. His son Benfred was killed by the ironmen led by Theon on the Stony Shore. His brother Leobald died during the sack of Winterfell. His daughter Eddara is the Lady of Torrhen's Square. His sister in law, Berena Tallhart, née Hornwood, is at Torrhen's square with her two sons.

Torrhen Square has been attacked by Dagmer Cleftjaw's band.
Torrhen’s Square was under attack by some monstrous war chief named Dagmer Cleftjaw. Old Nan said he couldn’t be killed, that once a foe had cut his head in two with an axe, but Dagmer was so fierce he’d just pushed the two halves back together and held them until they healed up.
(Bran VI, ACoK)
Theon tells Asha that Ser Rodrik won the day in Torrhen's Square.
There, before the ashes of a dead fire, he blurted, “Dagmer’s lost the fight at Torrhen’s Square—”
“The old castellan broke his shield wall, yes,” Asha said calmly. “What did you expect? This Ser Rodrik knows the land intimately, as the Cleftjaw does not, and many of the northmen were mounted. The ironborn lack the discipline to stand a charge of armored horse. Dagmer lives, be grateful for that much. He’s leading the survivors back toward the Stony Shore.”
(Theon V, ACoK)

Asha thinks that Dagmer has taken Torrhen's Square finally.
“Dagmer Cleftjaw holds Torrhen’s Square. A fierce fighter, and a leal servant of House Greyjoy. I can deliver that castle to you, and its garrison as well.” Perhaps, she might have added, but it would not serve her cause to show doubt before this king.
“Torrhen’s Square is not worth the mud beneath my heels. It is Winterfell that matters.”
(The Wayward bride, ADwD)

Torrhen's Square has received a letter similar to the one sent to Deepwood Motte.
“The first words were, “I write this letter in the blood of ironmen,” the last, “I send you each a piece of prince. Linger in my lands, and share his fate.
(The Wayward Bride, ADwD)
The words each of you would refer to Deepwood Motte.

Cersei Lannister believes Torrhen's Square should at about the same time than Deepwood Motte.
“Very good,” said Cersei. “Send a bird to Manderly and inform him that his son will be returned forthwith, now that he has demonstrated his loyalty.” White Harbor would soon return to the king’s peace, and Roose Bolton and his bastard son were closing in on Moat Cailin from south and north. Once the Moat was theirs, they would join their strength and clear the ironmen out of Torrhen’s Square and Deepwood Motte as well. That should win them the allegiance of Ned Stark’s remaining bannermen when the time came to march against Lord Stannis.
(Cersei V, AFfC)

What has happened at Torrhen's Square over the many months it has been held by Dagmer is a mystery. It is an open question whether the Dustins and Ryswells attempted to retake Torrhen's Square from the Ironmen. That would have been the logical course, since the Dustin and Ryswell attacked the Ironmen on the Fever River, and since Torrhen's Square is in their neighborhood. We hear no mention of this from Roose and Barbrey Dustin.

The Tallharts are not lords, they depend directly on Winterfell. We see their banner raised nevertheless in Barrowton and Winterfell, just like the banners of more established houses, like House Cerwyn, House Ryswell, etc.

A sign of the presence of Tallhart men at the wedding.
“Stannis has friends inside the castle,” Theon heard one serjeant mutter. He was an old Tallhart man, three trees sewn on his ragged surcoat.
(A Ghost in Winterfell, ADwD)

4. Roose and Barbrey

It seems that Roose and Barbrey Dustin has arranged an alliance with houses Cerwyn, Tallhart and Hornwood. Since all three houses have suffered at the Sack of Winterfell, the alliance would not be acceptable if Ramsay were to remain heir of House Bolton, or Lord of Winterfell. It might be that the truth has not yet transpired about what happened at the Sack, but it will. 

However, these houses have not suffered during the Red Wedding, and might accept Walda Frey as Roose's wife.

I suspect Lady Dustin has applied to them the technique she attributes to the maesters.
“They heal,” said Theon. It seemed to be expected of him.
“They heal, yes. I never said they were not subtle. They tend to us when we are sick and injured, or distraught over the illness of a parent or a child. Whenever we are weakest and most vulnerable, there they are. Sometimes they heal us, and we are duly grateful. When they fail, they console us in our grief, and we are grateful for that as well.“
(The Prince of Winterfell, ADwD)

Indeed she reunited them in Barrow Hall, waiting for Roose's return, and promised them that some order will be restored to the North. But Ramsay as the heir to the Warden of the north is unacceptable to all of them.

In any case, Roose doesn't trust any northern house but the Dustins and Ryswells.
Even here in Barrowton the crows are circling, waiting to feast upon our flesh. The Cerwyns and the Tallharts are not to be relied on, my fat friend Lord Wyman plots betrayal, and Whoresbane ... the Umbers may seem simple, but they are not without a certain low cunning. Ramsay should fear them all, as I do.
(Reek III, ADwD)

The Winterfell Huis Clos