The Rains of Castamere – click any image for full size
Doubtless any Game of Thrones fan will recognise the main part of the title of this travelogue. The Rains of Castamere is a song immortalising the obliteration of House Reyne by Tywin Lannister when the former tried to rebel against his father, and can be heard in part several times in the TV series. It is also now the name of a new region designed by Arol Lightfoot (who designed Just Another Tequilla Sunrise – see my 2014 post here, and who shares the design honours with Krys Vitas for Rosemoor, which I featured in May 2016).
The Rains of Castamere is not, however, a Game of Thrones role-play region. While there are many motifs from the books / series within it, Arol notes in her introduction that it also includes other fantasy elements, and is intended to offer an environment SL photographers can enjoy – and it does so quite admirably.
Split into two by a meandering channel running east to west, the region is mostly low-lying, with grassy banks rolling down to the water’s edge, although there are some rocky aspects at either end of the dividing channel. One of the two land masses is sparse of tree and shrub, the other offers a broader expanse of land which is host to a mix of woods and open spaces.
The references to the world of Games of Thrones can be found throughout the region. There’s the tall tower of stone to the south-east sitting atop of a rock plateau, clearly representative of Casterly Rock, the ancestral seat of House Lannister. Two ruins lie relatively close to hand, either of which might be taken to reference House Reyne from the song, whilst the two bridges spanning the narrow channel carry on their sides the carved head of a lion, a nod towards the golden lion sigil of House Lannister.
Across one of these bridges sits a stone castle topped by an iron throne, while two lions face off against two large wolves down below. All of these stand as motifs for Kings Landing and the enmity between the Lannisters and House Stark, whilst the looming figure of the armoured knight alongside the throne might be taken as a reference to Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, bodyguard to Cersei Lannister – and by extension, Cersei’s hold on the throne.
The Starks gain further reference amidst a woodland of fir trees (themselves symbolic of northern latitudes) north and east of the castle. These arc protectively around a weirwood tree to one side, the symbol of the old gods historically worshipped by the Starks. However, perhaps the clearest reference to the GoT universe lay with the dragons. These can be found on the ground and in the air, and their reflection of House Targaryen is clear. One even flies above a ship on the west side of the region, and is surely a allusion to the coming to Westeros of Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons, as seen at the end of the sixth season of the series.
Other fantasy elements are also to be found across the region in the form of unicorns, elven arches and lanterns, trolls, a dryad – look around and you’ll discover them. Many of the locations offer the opportunity to pose, sit and / or cuddle, thus furthering the photographic opportunities here (and more were appearing even as I visited).
The Rains of Castamere is an interesting approach to a region; while the landscape natural flows from point to point, so too does each location within it stand on its own as a photographic setting quite distinct from those around it. Opportunities for both landscape images and avatar studies can be found throughout, the latter obviously well-suited to cosplay shoots.
Whether you’re into Game of Thrones or seeking a new location for your photography, The Rains of Castamere has much to offer. And given the title of the region, it seems only appropriate that I close this piece not only with a recommendation to visit, but also with a rendition of the song.
- The Rains of Castamere (Rated: Moderate)