The Starks are the oldest of the Great Houses of Westeros. They are descended from the First Men, who came to Westeros from the east thousands of years ago. The First Men met the children of the forest there, a strange and magical race, and adopted their religion of the nameless Old Gods. This faith has no hierarchy or set dogma, but it does have sacred places: believers visit godswoods, where ancient, red-leaved weirwood trees, with faces carved by the children of the forest, watch over visitors.
House Stark was founded eight thousand years ago, in the wake of the Long Night, the invasion of Westeros by the Others (also called the White Walkers). Brandon the Builder built the Wall to protect the realm (though it has been added to since), as well as Winterfell, and became the first Stark to rule as King in the North, or King of Winter.
There were many kingdoms of the First Men, but they crumbled when the Andals arrived. These invaders wielded steel weapons, followed the Faith of the Seven (the predominant religion now, outside of the North), and brought the tradition of knighthood. The children of the forest were killed or driven away, while the Starks (and the lesser houses of the North) survived as the only representatives of the First Men left in Westeros, outside of a few scattered minor houses.
Harry Lloyd and Emilia Clarke, Ep 6 ‘A Golden Crown’ commentary
The more people you love, the weaker you are.
The Games of Thrones trailers are getting better and better. April, get over here already!
(New GoT blog. Fallow me and we’ll laugh through the bitter things till the bitter end! :D)
What does it mean to be the Hand of the King? Tyrion knows it. Cersei wants it!
More such good stuff here.