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I was rereading certain chapters of A Game of Thrones and stumbled upon the following quote:

The shields displayed outside each tent heralded its occupant: the silver eagle of Seagard, Bryce Caron's field of nightingales, a cluster of grapes for the Redwynes, brindled boar, red ox, burning tree, white ram, triple spiral, purple unicorn, dancing maiden, blackadder, twin towers, horned owl, and last the pure white blazons of the Kingsguard, shining like the dawn.

A Game of Thrones, Eddard VII

I wondered if there are other mentions of unicorns throughout the books. I don't remember any, but I might be mistaken. As far as I can imagine, there are three possibilities around the existence of unicorns:

  • Unicorns exist and are as common as horses and fish. This doesn't seem likely to me, since these are not mentioned as much as these animals.
  • Unicorns exist but are rare or extinct, like dragons.
  • Unicorns don't really exist, even though they are depicted on shields and sigils. People that claim they do exist have been drinking too much milk of the poppy.

So is there any mention of unicorns that confirms any of these theories?

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    I think you’re missing the real story here: “purple unicorn, dancing maiden, blackadder” — does The Black Adder exist in the Game of Thrones universe?! – Paul D. Waite Jul 8 '14 at 14:03
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    @Paul: Of course. Along with the Jumping Jews of Jerusalem, and Morris Dancers. Baldrick and Percy Percy are missing (but I hear Darling is going to be named the new captain of the City Watch). – user24620 Jul 8 '14 at 14:38
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    @LordSnow: I’d pay good money to see Darling and Tyrion share screen time. It also strikes me that Lord Baelish is essentially Westeros’s Blackadder. And I like that they got Sigur Rós to play the Jumping Jews. – Paul D. Waite Jul 8 '14 at 15:15
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    Westeros heraldry also includes griffins (Connington), two-headed horses (Roote), mermen (Manderly), krakens (Greyjoy), leviathans (Volmark), manticores (Lorch), centaurs (Caswell), cockatrices (Gargalen) and flying pigs (Suggs). I wouldn't take that as evidence for the existence of any of those creatures. – Mike Scott Jul 8 '14 at 15:18
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    @MikeScott - Well to be fair manticores do exist, and krakens might be real too. – System Down Jul 8 '14 at 16:47
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A Feast for Crows

Samwell Tarly recalls having read that the Skagosi ride great shaggy unicorns to war.

Unicorn horns are amongst plunder brought from distant lands by Euron Greyjoy.

A Dance with Dragons

Jon Snow, in a wolf dream as Ghost, sees that Shaggydog has fought and killed what may be a unicorn:
A wild rain lashed down upon his black brother as he tore at the flesh of an enormous goat, washing the blood from his side where the goat’s long horn had raked him.

In the cave of the three-eyed crow Leaf tells Bran Stark that the unicorns are all but gone.

Among some of the tribute collected from the wildlings passing through the Wall is a helm made with a unicorn’s head.

  • for some reason, spoiler tags do not seem to work....help? – Stefan Urziceanu Jul 8 '14 at 13:55
  • Goats have horns. I think its a huuuuge stretch to interpret that first quote as referring to a Unicorn. – ApproachingDarknessFish May 7 '17 at 22:38
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Unicorns are creatures that are said to have existed, but no one south of the wall knows for sure.
In A Dance with Dragons

Bran meets Leaf in the cave of the three eyed crow who tells him that unicorns still exist.

Jon also dreams that Ghost kills something that could be a unicorn. Also one wildling wears a helmet made of unicorn's head.

7

Yes

The closest confirmation on this we have is Leaf telling Bran they do exist, however, we also have other sources claiming them to exist. It would appear as though they've fallen into the same realm as the White Walkers and giants with the majority believing them to be fairy tales but some still knowing the truth.

And they did sing. They sang in True Tongue, so Bran could not understand the words, but their voices were as pure as winter air. "Where are the rest of you?" Bran asked Leaf, once.
"Gone down into the earth," she answered. "Into the stones, into the trees. Before the First Men came all this land that you call Westeros was home to us, yet even in those days we were few. The gods gave us long lives but not great numbers, lest we overrun the world as deer will overrun a wood where there are no wolves to hunt them. That was in the dawn of days, when our sun was rising. Now it sinks, and this is our long dwindling. The giants are almost gone as well, they who were our bane and our brothers. The great lions of the western hills have been slain, the unicorns are all but gone, the mammoths down to a few hundred. The direwolves will outlast us all, but their time will come as well. In the world that men have made, there is no room for them, or us."
A Dance with Dragons, Bran III

It is claimed that Euron Greyjoy used unicorn horns to turn people to his cause, though it's never stated if these were real or not (more on this later).

Aye, he thought, a great victory for the Crow's Eye and his wizards. The other captains would shout his brother's name anew when the tidings reached Oakenshield. Euron had seduced them with his glib tongue and smiling eye and bound them to his cause with the plunder of half a hundred distant lands; gold and silver, ornate armor, curved swords with gilded pommels, daggers of Valyrian steel, striped tiger pelts and the skins of spotted cats, jade manticores and ancient Valyrian sphinxes, chests of nutmeg, cloves, and saffron, ivory tusks and the horns of unicorns, green and orange and yellow feathers from the Summer Sea, bolts of fine silk and shimmering samite... and yet all that was little and less, compared to this.
A Feast for Crows, The Reaver

Davos himself calls Skagos "the isle of unicorns and cannibals" and Sam reads that unicorns live there with Dareon even commenting that they might see one.

Nine-and-twenty ships had set sail from the Wall. If half of them were still afloat, Davos would be shocked. Black skies, bitter winds, and lashing rains had hounded them all the way down the coast. The galleys Oledo and Old Mother's Son had been driven onto the rocks of Skagos, the isle of unicorns and cannibals where even the Blind Bastard had feared to land; the great cog Saathos Saan had foundered off the Grey Cliffs.
A Dance with Dragons, Davos I

The island sat at the mouth of the Bay of Seals, massive and mountainous, a stark and forbidding land peopled by savages. They lived in caves and grim mountain fastnesses, Sam had read, and rode great shaggy unicorns to war. Skagos meant "stone" in the Old Tongue. The Skagosi named themselves the stoneborn, but their fellow northmen called them Skaggs and liked them little. Only a hundred years ago Skagos had risen in rebellion. Their revolt had taken years to quell and claimed the life of the Lord of Winterfell and hundreds of his sworn swords. Some songs said the Skaggs were cannibals; supposedly their warriors ate the hearts and livers of the men they slew. In ancient days, the Skagosi had sailed to the nearby isle of Skane, seized its women, slaughtered its men, and ate them on a pebbled beach in a feast that lasted for a fortnight. Skane remained unpeopled to this day.
Dareon knew the songs as well. When the bleak grey peaks of Skagos rose up from the sea, he joined Sam at Blackbird's prow, and said, "If the gods are good, we may catch a glimpse of a unicorn."
A Feast for Crows, Samwell II

The World of Ice and Fire also comments the same as Sam reads about the unicorns.

The Skagosi who reside there are little regarded by the other Northmen, who consider them no better than wildlings and name them Skaggs. The Skagosi call themselves the stoneborn, referring to the fact that Skagos means "stone" in the Old Tongue. A huge, hairy, foul-smelling folk (some maesters believe the Skagosi to have a strong admixture of Ibbenese blood; others suggest that they may be descended from giants), clad in skins and furs and untanned hides, and said to ride on unicorns, the Skagosi are the subject of many a dark rumor.
The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos

However, not all the maesters appear to believe that the unicorns were real, though that appears to descend from disreputable merchants selling fake unicorn horns. Some unicorn horns have been seen that appear to be real or at least different to anything else seen before. Although the maesters are yet to find a living example or skeleton.

The "unicorns" of Skagos were once scoffed at by maesters at the Citadel. The occasional "unicorn horn" offered by disreputable merchants has never been more than the horn of a kind of whale hunted by the whalers of Ib. However, horns of quite a different kind—reputed to be from Skagos—have been seen by the maesters at Eastwatch upon occasion. It is also said that those seafarers brave enough to trade on Skagos have glimpsed the stoneborn lords riding great, shaggy, horned beasts, monstrous mounts so sure-footed they have been known to climb the sides of mountains. A living example of such a creature—or even a skeleton—has long been sought for study, but none has ever been brought to Oldtown.
The World of Ice and Fire, The North: The Stoneborn of Skagos

Lastly, some claim unicorns can be found in Ib which seems to agree with unicorns from Skagos as some maesters have claimed that the Skagosi have a strong admixture of Ibbenese blood.

Ib is the second largest island in the known world; only Great Moraq, between the Jade and Summer Seas, is larger. Stony and mountainous, Ib is a land of great grey mountains, ancient forests, and rushing rivers, its dark interior a haunt of bears and wolves. Giants once dwelt on Ib, we are told, but none remain—though mammoths still roam the island's plains and hills, and in the higher mountains, some claim unicorns can be found.
The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Ib


Note that the purple unicorn sigil belongs to House Brax and that they are said to have been formed from marriage between the First Men and the Andals. As an historical house it is likely that more unicorns were around when it was created and so hence the sigil.

A party of mounted horsemen rode forward to challenge them as they approached the stakes. The knight who led them wore silver armor inlaid with amethysts and a striped purple-and-silver cloak. His shield bore a unicorn sigil, and a spiral horn two feet long jutted up from the brow of his horsehead helm. Tyrion reined up to greet him. "Ser Flement."
Ser Flement Brax lifted his visor. "Tyrion," he said in astonishment. "My lord, we all feared you dead, or…" He looked at the clansmen uncertainly. "These… companions of yours…"
A Game of Thrones, Tyrion VII

In time, Lannister kings wed their children to Andals as well; indeed, when Gerold III died without male issues, a council crowned his only daughter's husband, Ser Joffery Lydden, who took the Lannister name and became the first Andal to rule the Rock. Other noble houses were also born in such unions—such as Jast, Lefford, Parren, Droxe, Marbrand, Braxe, Serrett, Sarsfield, and Kyndall. And thus revitalized, the Kings of the Rock expanded their realm still farther.
The World of Ice and Fire, The Westerlands

  • Neat! They have narwhals in Planetos! – m1gp0z Jan 23 at 20:12
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We never see one firsthand, but in Chapter 3 of ADWD Jon dreams that:

A wild rain lashed down upon his black brother as he tore at the flesh of an enormous goat, washing the blood from his side where the goat's long horn had raked him.

That could be a vision of Shaggydog killing a unicorn. This is supported by Sam's mention in Chapter 15 of AFFC that the people where Shaggydog is at:

... rode great shaggy unicorns to war. Skagos meant "stone" in the Old Tongue.

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