Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Game of Thrones: The Northern Ireland landmarks transformed by movie magic

Magheramorne quarry near Larne after the movie makeover
The epic series Game of Thrones boasts a stellar cast including Sean Bean and Emilia Clarke
Mark Addy says Game Of Thrones is not for kids

When it came to finding the right location to film Game of Thrones, Northern Ireland was chosen for its wide geographical variety, easy accessibility and huge historic structures.

While some scenes were shot in Malta, the majority of the big budget production was filmed right on our doorstep.

Even the most eagle-eyed of viewers would be hard pressed to recognise some of the province's best known landmarks after HBO’s award-winning set designers got to work on bringing the fantasy kingdom of Westeros to life.

In George RR Martin’s medieval world, there canvas encompasses different cultures, climates and locations.

It’s always winter in the frozen North, which is protected by The Wall — a barricade of ice manned by the Night’s Watch, while the South — home to the King’s Landing is — sunny and warm.

Throughout the series, Belfast’s Paint Hall and various locations in Co Down and Co Antrim provide the spectacular settings.

In the opening sequence in episode one, aired on Sky Atlantic HD on Monday night, we are introduced to the kingdom North of the Wall — Tollymore Forest Park in Co Down.

The snow-covered forest at the foot of the Mourne Mountains is a hauntingly beautiful backdrop for the brutality to come in the first five minutes — severed limbs, beheaded torsos and bloodshed.

The daunting Castle Black, home to the Night’s Watch, and The Wall, which protects the northern border of Westeros, were built in a disused quarry at Magheramorne.

Set designer Gemma Jackson explained: “We used reclaimed timber and a lot of stone and I think it worked because it was in a real quarry.”

Also in the first episode we meet the House of Stark and its honourable head Eddard, played by Sean Bean.

The historic Castle Ward was the location for Winterfell, home to the Stark family.

Interior shots of Winterfell were filmed in the Paint Hall studio in the Titanic Quarter, while Cairncastle at Larne was used for exterior Winterfell scenes.

In another scene from episode one, the son of a deposed king forces his sister to marry a barbarian warlord from the Dothraki tribe.


Tollymore Forest Park was given a makeover as the frozen North

Some of the Dothraki camps were filmed at Shillanavogy Road Valley near Slemish.

Other local locations used throughout the series include Audleys Tower, Strangford, Castle Ward fields in Co Down and the Antrim Plateau.


Magheramorne quarry near Larne became a huge wall of ice

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