GAME of Thrones fans need not despair when the final series comes to an end – they can go out and visit the Scottish Winterfell in Edinburgh.

According to writer and heritage expert David C Weinczok, the fictional creation has a parallel to Craigmillar Castle – a theory which appears to have been endorsed by George R R Martin, author of the fantasy books.

Not only that, but the life stories of Robert Bruce and Robert Baratheon are remarkably similar, Kisimul Castle on Barra is an “excellent” example of the kind used by the Ironborn in Game of Thrones, and a carved face at Dunino Den near St Andrews eerily resembles the faces on the sacred weirwood trees.

The National: Carved face at Dunino Den near St AndrewsCarved face at Dunino Den near St Andrews

For Weinczok, the similarities between characters, structures and events in Scottish history and those of Game of Thrones (GoT) are too strong to be coincidences and his new book sets out to show how Scotland is echoed in the books and TV series.

“My book covers everything from the lie of the land in Hebrides and how that compares to the Iron Islands in GoT and Stirling Castle, which has a direct parallel with the Frey Castle of The Twins, scene of the Red Wedding,” he said.

“A lot of time is spent on the west coast, where there are castles that look to be straight out of a fantasy writer’s imagination, like Kisimul on Barra or Duart on Mull, which form part of what I call Scotland’s ‘castle corridor’.

“In GoT, the Ironborn dominate the seas due to a combination of coastal castles and war galleys in precisely the same way as Scotland’s Lords of the Isles did from the 12th through to the 15th centuries.”

As well as geological, geographical and character comparisons, Weinczok looks at the actual themes of GoT to give an insight into Scottish history. “I’m interested in storytelling and a big believer that stories are very integral to how we conceive of a place ... and my work often involves using popular culture to engage people who might not be interested in history,” said Weinczok, who has visited 400 castles in the eight years he has been in Scotland.

Craigmillar Castle is a stand-out example of how Martin has borrowed from Scottish history, according to Weinczok.

The National: Craigmillar Castle has been compared to Winterfell in GoTCraigmillar Castle has been compared to Winterfell in GoT

“How it was built really echoes the development of Winterfell as, in both, the earliest parts were towers built upon a rocky crag and then they slowly grew courtyards and two sets of curtain walls,” he said. “The castles are ready for war but also allowed the inhabitants to live a life of leisure as there is plenty of room for soldiers and stables but there are also halls to entertain.

“At Craigmillar, yew trees grow in the courtyard and have possibly been there since the time of Mary Queen of Scots – stepping in there is the closest you are ever going to get to walking into Winterfell with its sacred grove.

“The architecture echoes that of Winterfell and for fun I tweeted that out and George picked it up and shared it so he seems to endorse that theory,” Weinczok said.

Martin has indicated that the brutal Red Wedding scene, with its infamous gut-wrenching twist, was influenced by the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692 and the Black Dinner at Edinburgh Castle in 1440, when the Earl of Douglas was murdered.

Then there are the wilds that lie beyond The Wall, which has parallels with the Antonine Wall, the final frontier of the Roman Empire.

The National: The Antonine Wall in North LanarkshireThe Antonine Wall in North Lanarkshire

“The similarity is more about what it represents in history and what it means when the wall comes crashing down,” said Weinczok.

“In both cases people who lived on the wrong side are thought of as blood-thirsty raiders when they were actually a sophisticated culture guarding against the invasion of an empirical power.”

In the book, The History Behind Game of Thrones: The North Remembers, Weinczok points to the Declaration of Arbroath and how that is reflected in the mentality of the Wildlings.

“The Wildlings are fiercely independent and only have kings if their actions deserve it – they don’t inherit the title through bloodlines,” he said. “It is an interesting concept of power and it is clear the general philosophy is derived from notions of kingship in early Scotland.

“The Pict and Gael kings were only as good as their actions and not their blood and it is a concept that carries through to the Declaration of Arbroath ... it’s interesting to look at power and the idea of kingship in GoT and see how we might find the philosophical seeds of that in quite a few moments in Scottish history.”

What about Scottish king Bruce and fictional king Baratheon? “Both won their crowns through battle, bloodshed and hardship,” pointed out Weinczok. “Both were driven in part by vengeance, with Baratheon fighting to avenge his wife Lyanna Stark and Bruce fighting to avenge his family, many of whom were executed or imprisoned, including his wife and young daughter.

“Both kings were renowned warriors and fought a seminal duel which defined their legacy – Baratheon against Rhaegar Targaryen at the Battle of the Trident and Bruce against Henry de Bohun at Bannockburn. Both also proved to be compassionate leaders capable of inspiring great loyalty and devotion, though Bruce was undoubtedly the more effective nation-builder.”

Then there’s the Hammer of the Scots, Edward I, who shares similarities with the forceful Tywin Lannister. Just as Edward is remembered for the terrible massacre of Berwick in 1296, so Lannister cannot escape the shadow of the sack of Kings’ Landing.

“There are also cases where geographical terms are taken directly from Scotland and infused into Westeros (Wester Ross), such as the names of several of the Iron Islands, and where real archaeological terms such as crannog or cairn are applied to Westeros locations,” said Weinczok.

One of the quirkier points in his book is the flag of Stannis Baratheon with its blood red heart. “People scoff at it ... when in fact James Douglas, the right-hand man of Robert the Bruce carried the king’s heart on the Crusades and in honour of that a blood red heart was adopted by the Douglas family for their heraldry,” said Weinczok.

“So Stannis’s flag is not as strange as you might think – it’s the real deal.”

The aim of the book, which Weinczok says he has rigorously researched, is to encourage people to explore Scotland. “GoT has so much potential to do that,” he said. “People can go out there and find Westeros all around them when the season ends and the last book comes out.”

The History behind Game of Thrones: The North Remembers, published by Pen and Sword, will be in stores on April 30. To pre-order go to or Amazon.