In season 6 episode 5 of Game of Thrones, Jon, Davos, Sansa, et al. are looking at a map of Westeros, trying to determine who is friendly to their cause. I didn't notice until I came across a Reddit thread discussing the scene that the map is sideways, with The Wall at the east and The Twins at the west (instead of north and south, respectively).

This is not simply a matter of the way we're looking at the map. There are many landmarks noted including "Bay of Seals", "Bay of Ice", "Umber", and "Bolton". The text is right-side up from this angle.

The text can be more clearly seen once the image is cropped and the contrast is increased:

Also, an Imgur thread features a screencap with each location re-labeled with a text overlay, and close-ups of the text on the actual map.

I don't understand why this map was created sideways. Even though maps can be found in any format, all the maps I've seen have the text written to be read with south at the bottom of the map.

  • 6
    The wall will still be considered in North. Fingers will still South East, Grey Water Watch will still be South. Flipping the map does not switch directions as well. Even today irl all maps have a tiny compass symbol at the bottom, which shows the directions in which the map was drawn to avoid confusion.
    – Aegon
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 13:05
  • My guess: Brainfart from the art department. Plausible excuse/in-world explanation: North was not always at the top of the maps.
    – TLP
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:06
  • @Aegon Any map I've seen, the text is still read right-side up when south is at the bottom. If that's not always the case, a few examples would make a good answer for why my reasoning is faulty. Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:27
  • 11
    Was it ever established that Westerosi put the north on the top? There is no actual reason to do that and medieval cartographers put east on the top (because that is were they expected the Garden of Eden and holy things belong to the top).
    – Till B
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 14:59
  • 8
    North at the top is not universal even in current day Earth, was less ubiquitous in earlier historical epochs. But even if it was universal it would still be purely a convention. Why would you expect a different world to have the same conventions? Commented May 27, 2016 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


I suspect it's because this is the sort of map meant for making military plans. Note the pieces (I think they are simply stones painted with symbols). These would be meant to be moved around the map to reflect the movements and placements of military units.

Westeros is a bit longer north-south than east-west, and rotating the map this way would likely make it easier to move the pieces without having to move around too much. If the viewer were standing at the south end of the map, it would require a bit more of a stretch to reach the pieces at, say, the Wall.

  • 4
    +1, In other words, a map's orientation is entirely a matter of convenience and convention. This seemed easier or better to whoever made it. Nothing more complicated than that.
    – DCShannon
    Commented May 28, 2016 at 0:11
  • 1
    While its possible its bit silly: Great Britain is much longer north-south than east-west and I never seen any map (including old ones) showing British Isles sideways.
    – Yasskier
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 22:12

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