My mother’s name was Mary Audley Kenny. All her friends and relatives called her Audley. No one knows how she got her middle name. All her mother would say is that she read it in a book somewhere. Trouble is no one remembers ever seeing Nana read a book! Anyway, when I heard that our Game of Thrones tour would include a hike to Audley’s Castle I was jubilant. My mother’s castle!
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
Audley’s Castle sits on a grassy hill overlooking Strangford Lough. Audley’s Field sits at the base of this hill on its northside. Both castle and field were used extensively in the filming of the Game of Thrones in Seasons 1 and 2. In the first episode of Season One King Robert arrived at Winterfell by way of Audley’s Field. In Episode 2 of Season Two Robb set up his camp in Audley’s Field after the battle of Oxcross and it’s here in Audley’s Field that he meets his future wife Talisa (Episode 4).
Audley’s Castle and Field get their name from the Audley family, Anglo-Normans who obtained land in the area in the 13th century and in 1636 sold their estate including the castle to the Ward family who used the castle in 1738 to beautify their artificial lake they called Temple Water.
As Game of Thrones extended over eight seasons Audley’s Castle was used to produce The Twins, Walder Frey’s two towers at opposite ends of a bridge. The Twins were supposed to be at the Green Fork of the Trident river but the water is actually the Strangford Lough narrows near Castle Ward.
We hiked from Castle Ward through woodlands for about two miles to Audley’s Castle. Our guide brought his iPad along to show us the exact place where a particular scene was filmed. In many cases he was able to align tree branches and shapes of rocks to clips from the show. One such case was the scene where Brienne comes across three women who were hanged by Stark soldiers. The soldiers return and Brienne kills all three of them and then buries the three women.
These paths and woodlands did not exist as late as 1834 when the Tithe Applotment maps showed the village of Audley’s Town with about 15 buildings. By 1859 there was nothing but 100 acres of trees and paths in this area. There are several stories about what may have happened to the village where there may have been as many as 200 inhabitants, all tenants of the Wards. One story is that the lady of the Castleward Estate, Lady Bangor, did not like to see the rundown buildings from her mansion window and so she had the tenants evicted. This story continues with the tenants being hauled aboard a ship called The Rose and then sent to Boston in 1852. But there are no records of such a ship existing at that time.
We returned to the village of Strangford after our hike to Audley’s Castle and had lunch at The Cuan. Our guide told us to assemble near a fenced-off area in the middle of the village square after lunch for a surprise. I will cover that surprise plus our next tour stop at Inch Abbey in my next post.
Bonus — Castle on the Hill by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran comes from West Yorkshire in England and so was most likely not singing about Audley’s Castle in County Down but my Sheerans (also spelled Shearan and Shearin) came from County Roscommon in Ireland. My mother Audley’s grandfather came from County Down and her grandmother Bessie Gallagher from Sheegorey, a small farmland near Boyle in north Roscommon. Bessie’s mother (my great great grandmother) was a Sheeran.