House Bolton of the Dreadfort is a noble house from the Dreadfort in the north. They are an old line descended from the First Men and dating back to the Age of Heroes. The Boltons are known for their practice of flaying their enemies. The head of House Bolton is Emberlei Bolton.
The Bolton sigil is a flayed man, red on pink.
The Boltons are an ancient and powerful house of the north who once ruled as Red Kings from the Dreadfort. Their land reached from the Last River and the White Knife to the Sheepshead Hills. It has been suggested that the legendary Night's King was a Bolton.
Since the Long Night the Red Kings were bitter rivals of the Kings of Winter, the Starks of Winterfell. The Boltons achieved some successes against the Starks, with Kings Royce II and Royce IV burning Winterfell.The Boltons are said to have flayed the skins of several Stark lords and hung them in the Dreadfort. According to rumor, some Bolton lords wore the flayed skins of their enemies—including Starks, such as the son of Bael—as cloaks.
This practice has given the Boltons a sinister reputation. The last Red King, Rogar the Huntsman, submitted to Winterfell when the Andal invasion of Westeros was also beginning. King Theon Stark, the Hungry Wolf, and the Boltons defeated Argos Sevenstar and his Andals in the Battle of the Weeping Water.
Thousands of years ago, the Dreadfort rose in an unsuccessful rebellion with the Greystarks of the Wolf's Den against the Starks. The Boltons survived the rebellion, although the Greystarks did not.
The Boltons threatened Winterfell during the reign of King Edrick Snowbeard. At some point unspecified centuries ago, the Boltons rebelled against the Starks. The Stark armies besieged the Dreadfort for two years before the Boltons capitulated to King Harlon Stark and dipped their banners once more.
Approximately a thousand years ago, the Boltons bent their knees to Winterfell and agreed to abandon their practice of flaying their enemies. Also a thousand years ago, Karlon Stark built a castle on land taken from a rebel lord; it is possible this land of House Karstark was taken from the Boltons. For many centuries the Boltons have remained loyal to the Starks, although rumors persist that they continue to flay their prisoners in secret and maintain a hidden chamber in the Dreadfort to display the skins of their enemies.