While the Emmys were going on last week, over in HBO's non-nominated show, Game of Thrones, things are gearing up for production of Season 8. Principle photography for the final episodes starts next month, so this is the period where set fabricators and dressers are setting up the different on-locations sets, some of which have been standing for years, to prep them for filming. One of those is the Game of Thrones Season 8 Winterfell set, located in Moneyglass in Northern Ireland.
Now, these sets have been standing outside, unused, for a fairly decent length of time, and have been subject to weathering and the elements, so repair work is an expected part of the process. (Riverun Castle, for instance, has been standing unused since Season 6 filming in fall of 2015.) Winterfell has been up in Moneyglass for ages, and every year undergoes rehabilitation, either distressing it during the years of the Bolton occupation, or bringing it back to what it was, like was done last year.
But this year, the work on Winterfell has apparently been even more extensive that fans were expecting. Check out these photos tweeted out by an eagle eyed fan to fan site Watchers on the Wall, after she swung by the set and grabbed a couple of shots from the road.
The grey parts of the castle are the parts left over from last year. The brown ones are the as-yet-unpainted walls -- they'll be treated to match the rest of the castle before filming. But that's a lot of rebuilding that's going on, especially in the front towers by the gate, which are two key battlement areas of Winterfell.
While we saw the interiors of Winterfell getting repaired last season now that the Starks are back in residence, we haven't been up to the battlements much at all in recent seasons, other than a few shots from Season 5, and then the repeated shot looking out from atop the gate with Sansa and Jon, and then Sansa and Arya in subsequent finales. That second one is the area between where they're reinforcing/rebuilding.
That the towers are getting reinforced suggests that the show is planning on using them to film scenes in Winterfell. Moreover, it suggests the show is planning on spending more time in spaces of Winterfell than just the Great Hall, the courtyard and the Stark Bonding Area.
This jives with the theory that next season will spend relatively little time in the south, other than King's Landing. Instead, our final six episodes will focus on the place where we originally came in when we arrived in Westeros: the North, specifically Winterfell.
This theory holds water, and not just for the "end where you began" story telling trope. If fans will cast their minds back, the Character About To Be Formerly Known As Jon Snow, Real Westerosi Hero™ didn't originally agree to help Sansa take back Winterfell because of some vendetta against Ramsay. (Though by the Battle of the Bastards, it had become personal.) His original reasoning was that they were going to need it as a home base to fight the Night King once he got over the Wall.
Well, the Wall's been gotten over. ("Collapsed in a rather large heap on one end," I believe is the technical term.) The Night King is on his way. And Jon's plan for facing the Night King begins with... sailing to White Harbor and then riding with Daenerys, the Dothraki, and the Unsullied to Winterfell.
Even if in the end, the battle isn't actually joined on the walls of the Stark ancestral home as Jon plans (because when have Jon's plans *ever* gone to plan?), one can assume that Sansa will be ordering battlements to be re-enforced, and quite a few characters to be walking around.
We can't wait for the trailers to pull up in the next couple of months, and we find out which actors are filming scenes here.