I just started watching Game of Thrones again and noticed something that I had never noticed previously. In the very first episode of the first series during the opening segment (just before the title sequence), there is a scene where one of the Rangers (in the books I think it is Gared) comes across a collection of the dismembered body parts from slaughtered Wildlings. The scene shifts to an aerial shot and it appears that those body parts are arranged in a crude circle with a line through the centre.

After noticing this it made me also recall that in a later episode there is a similar scene where severed horses heads and bodies are arranged in a pattern (I can't remember exactly but it was something like a spiral arrangement).

Are there any known reasons for White Walkers to arrange body parts in these geometric patterns? I certainly cannot recall anything mentioned in the TV series itself but I wonder if perhaps in any interviews with the TV show creators it is mentioned/explained? I thought it might simply be to create an additional sense of unease around the scenes and to perhaps enhance the sinister nature of the White Walkers but that is pure speculation on my part. I can't recall this behaviour mentioned anywhere within the books so the question applies just to the TV series.

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    The significance of it was that it was not enough for the TV-producers for Will to see dead wildlings. He had to see dismembered bodies spread out in arbitrary ways. In the books, the emphasis was "Were they really dead? Should we go back?" and in the TV-show it is "Oh shit, these guys are cold blooded."
    – TLP
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 0:06
  • i think the reason is more than terrifying the humans or the COF i think the white walkers want to make westeros like always winter by using some magic using those symbols if you see the children of the forest makes the same symbols to create the white walkers
    – user72823
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 12:47
  • I've closed this as a duplicate of the newer question because the answer on the newer one cites from official sources rather than all the speculation here.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Apr 16, 2019 at 8:18

10 Answers 10


This discussion had a few useful insights.

These scenes let us know something about the white walkers, EG:

it really hammers home the idea of the White Walkers as another intelligent species, and not just mindless monsters.


I think it's a bit creepy that the WWs would do things we simply have no rational explanation for, because it reinforces (forgive the pun) the "otherness" about them - they're not us.

Also there is the more pragmatic explanation, this allows the medium to show (not tell) the viewer the WW's did this:

By giving a certain amount of artistic flair to their "work," the viewer knows easily when someone has been killed by the Others, versus a normal conflict leading to loss of life.


If you have been watching the Season 6, in the episode 5, you see a similar symbol around the Godswood Tree, where the Children of the Forest turn the man into the First White Walker.

I think these symbols belong to the Children of the Forest and mean that the White Walkers are sending a message to the Children of the Forest and the Blood Raven. :-)

Refer to the image below:

Mysterious Symbol

  • Would be good to have a picture of the bodies for comparison.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 14:44

It wasn't explained yet to my knowledge, but I came up with these viable theories:

  • Magic Rituals

  • Symbols(of some sort)

  • They mean something as to why the particular person was killed.

It is probably some sort of rune or symbol that has some meaning to them. Like celtic runes, I mean the "time" that GOT is set in makes it a magicy era.

But these fans appear to have some interesting chit chat about it.

[BOOK SPOILERS] Changes from book to screen

From User Josiah Rowe:

What do we think about the Others arranging the wildlings' body parts into that pattern? It's suitably creepy, but does it have any particular significance?

From User AHackeySackOfIceAndFire:

I think it was a replacement to the buildup around how strange it was that the wildlings were gone. Just gone. they talk about it a fair bit in the book, no? Strange necromancy ritual formation is a pretty quick way to explain that this situation is abnormal.

From Reddit: Why would the White Walkers take the time to do something like this? Is there a symbol or purpose I don't understand? [Semi-NSFW for mild gore]

Brotherhood Without Banners

I think it serves to A. show the wildlings aren't the most savage/dangerous thing north of the wall and B. show this wasn't done by wildlife (wolves). It introduces the watcher to the actual threat to the realm and that it is, contrary to the opinions of most, very real.

The other discussions are equally as interesting, but I think we can agree that the symbols are based on magic, as I don't remember footprints.

It is probably a part of whatever magic the Others are a part of. They obviously have magic and these are magical markers that show:

  • The power of their magic

  • And symbolize something to come; At the very least it signals to everyone that they have been there. But mostly it means "Winter is Coming".


enter image description here

I remember noticing that symbol too and kept a look out for it in the 1st season.

You can see the Hand of the King badge is the same in a way; also in the 1st episode Dany's dress has similar pins on either shoulder with three dragon heads on top, and her brother has the same. I have a feeling that symbol might be related to the Targaryens, and that their blood line are the only ones able to stop the white walkers.

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    Nice catch! Could you possibly find images of the badge and pins you're referring to, and edit them into this answer?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 11:55
  • It's a design iteration of a Celtic Brooch which is used to fasten fabric. but here, is just a pin.
    – Meta747
    Commented Oct 13, 2016 at 20:20

I am not sure of the exact meaning. I remember that Sam and two other Nights Watch brothers uncovered an ancient rock that had dragon glass weapons hidden underneath. I believe there were some very old patterns carved on the rock that were similar to the large spiral pattern that was seen in Season 3. Didn't Sam say that the dragon glass was left by the first men? Could it be that these patterns were a means of communication several thousand years ago, similar to petroglyphs that we find in ancient ruins?


The circle of bodies almost had the appearance of a compass with the line in the center being mostly on the bottom (south), possibly signifying that the white walkers are moving further toward the wall. I may be over thinking this, but it makes sense. I came here to see if anyone else had this thought.


The answer is this: the white walkers are starting a war with man because men created an imbalance through magic/dragons/etc. (Specifically dragons)

The shape laid out in the first episode of season 1 is the same shape as the fire in which Daenerys walks into in the last episode of season 1, (ice & fire), thus creating dragons.

The spiral of horse heads symbolizes the swarm of Dothraki surrounding Dany at the end of season 5. Both had a Targaryen in the middle. Horse heads with Jon (Targaryen) standing center, and Dothraki with Dany standing center.

As we know Starks can warg, and have greensight (see the future), Starks share some blood with the walkers, and the further north you go the more powerful these abilities are. White walkers know what's coming and it's meant as a warning to the impending doom the citizens of Westeros are creating for themselves

In the end it will be revealed as white walkers aren't as bad as they're made out to be, a recurring theme in GoT. Just like Jaime: we all hated him and now love him.

  • Interesting theory. Do you have any canon backup for this? Also, your last paragraph is kind of opinion-based...
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 22:27
  • What's Canon backup? And ofcourse it's opinion based, until the books are finished EVERY theory is opinion based. You have to be familiar with the books to understand the theory. It's very detailed, but in short, back during the first men an alliance was made between the white walkers and the first men. Man violated that alliance by crossing the wall into the north, and their use of magic.
    – the dude
    Commented Jul 7, 2015 at 22:39
  • @thedude Do you have any choice excerpts from the books or quotes from the series script/transcripts that illustrate this? Editing some in would really strengthen your answer.
    – user867
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 6:18

Apparently many of these were subtle hints that the Children of the Forrest created The Others. According to D&D (showrunners). The Targaryen connection has me pondering more though. Plus John emerging from the beneath the crowd in The Battle of the Bastards was very reminiscent of Daenyrs' Mhysa moment.

Here are some pics and direct links:

  1. [Mhysa Vid][1]

  2. [Pyre Vid][2]

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    Could you some quotes to confirm your statements?
    – Adamant
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 4:35
  • “John emerging from the beneath the crowd in The Battle of the Bastards was very reminiscent of Daenyrs' Mhysa moment.” — sure, but how is that related to the White Walkers arranging dismembered bodies? Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 8:56

The symbol is pretty much the same as in season 1 when Dany revives her dragons...I'll have to look again but pretty much the same. Circle of life symbol? No clue just an idea


Swirl pattern reminds me of symbols for infinity or chaos. The circular patter. Order direction think two dimensional astrolabe/gyroscope. Meaning is larger than show itself. Backstory is something about nature/cycles which explain the unusual seasons. I think the real war is to influence some phenomenon affecting catastrophic natural events. Flood, mini ice age, volcanism doom of old valaryia. Ect

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! However, the question is looking for a stated significance from the show creators. This is currently just speculation on your part.
    – Null
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 17:19

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