Note: No spoilers here, only content from the first 5 books and TWOIAF. Spoiler boxes are only used for organization.
The first Casterly was named Caster and they were blessed by the old gods with gold for sparing lion cubs. They disappeared when there were no more sons during the Age of Heroes. Craster wears a gold bracelet and is connected to lords and castles. Craster’s keep recalls Casterly Rock.
Legend tells us the first Casterly lord was a huntsman, Corlos son of Caster, who lived in a village near to where Lannisport stands today. When a lion began preying upon the village's sheep, Corlos tracked it back to its den, a cave in the base of the Rock.
Craster wears a gold bracelet.
Craster also asks for Mormont’s axe which has gold inlay, but the text is unclear as to whether Craster knew about the gold inlay.
Craster is linked with lords, castles and southern ways. Craster’s keep and his mother’s home of Whitetree recall Casterly Rock.
Craster’s keep is reminiscent of Casterly Rock in that it’s on a hill, is windowless with low ceilings and long halls consistent with caves, and is linked with darkness, spirits and water like Casterly Rock’s caverns. Crasters’ is linked with shit and piss and has a noticeable midden heap as is Whitetee which is where Craster’s mother is from. Casterly Rock is also curiously associated with shit. Tyrion cleared its drains and pisses a lot, Tywin shat gold and was killed on a privy. ACOK Jon III and ASOS Samwell II which are the chapters which most promiently feature Craster have an exceptional number of piss and shit mentions from which I’ll spare you (mostly ).
Maggy the Frog and Craster are both cold. And the black blood...
The NW are called black-blooded, but we see other instances of black blood as well. Cersei observes her blood as black as she’s cursed by Maggy the Frog. Not sure how this would tie in, but it’s either relevant or quite a coincidence. Black blood ties into a lot of places, but curses seem the most consistent when one isn’t talking about the NW who use the term in a practical sense in that they aren’t part of any house.
Craster hates bastards
Craster is supposedly a bastard but there seems to be more to it. He hates being called a bastard, but he hates other bastards as well which says to me that he isn’t a bastard, he’s proud. Why is this insult so serious for him that he resorts to the extreme we see below? That Craster knows he’s a Casterly of Casterly Rock yet is looked down upon by all would be one possible explanation.
The Casterlys lose Casterly Rock to Lann the Clever at the beginning of the Age of Heroes near the time Pact and disappear soon after. Craster’s mother is from Whitetree which practices a radical version of old god worship.
Craster repeats that he is godly, godly in a way that is no longer acceptable to most. The people at Whitetree seem to keep to much older ways. Their homes are stone, cavelike and smell like dung. Dolorous Edd specifically mentions Casterly Rock.
While I doubt the story of Craster’s father because of how he reacts to all bastards, I believe the story about his mother being from Whitetree. If Craster is really a Casterly, it would mean the Casterlys left or were forced from Casterly Rock for North-of-the-Wall. The Casterlys were given the gold by the old gods but lost Casterly Rock near the beginning of the Age of Heroes when the Pact came about and maybe this isn’t a coincidence if Craster is a Casterly and he practices extremely old ways.
Whitetree suggests a fanatical worship of the old gods. Craster keeps sheep pens which we later find out are given to the Others. Whitetree is also noted for its sheep pens. Corlos the son of Caster sought the lions for killing his sheep. Jon notes that Whitetree shows signs of human sacrifice which also aligns with Craster who is very insistent that he is a godly man.
Perhaps a reason for the Casterlys disappearance or being forced out is their disagreement or non-compliance with The Pact hence their fade from history during the Age of Heroes?
The Casterlys may have been a little different.
Jaime dreams of something in the water under Casterly Rock and Jon’s experience at Crasters emphasized it being unusually dark and wet. Jaime’s led down there by 12 cowled men in spears which the TWOIAF links to the Casterlys as they were huntsmen. TWOIAF speculates that Lann the Clever may have married a Casterly daughter.
What’s up with the sheep?
Corlos son of Caster seeks the lion for killing his sheep. Whitetree, Craster and the Others all seem to value them. It recalls sayings about lions lying with sheep and also sacrificial lambs.
Food for thought...
1. AGOT Catelyn VI Jaime is arrogant, Tywin is full of avarice, Cersei is power-hungry, but Tyrion claims he is a lamb (after a bark of laughter, and I suspect that grin is wolfish).
The dwarf gave a bark of laughter. "Would that I were a pumpkin," he said. "Alas, my lord father would no doubt be most chagrined if his son of Lannister went to his fate like a load of turnips. If you ascend on foot, I fear I must do the same. We Lannisters do have a certain pride."
"Pride?" Catelyn snapped. His mocking tone and easy manner made her angry. "Arrogance, some might call it. Arrogance and avarice and lust for power."
"My brother is undoubtedly arrogant," Tyrion Lannister replied. "My father is the soul of avarice, and my sweet sister Cersei lusts for power with every waking breath. I, however, am innocent as a little lamb. Shall I bleat for you?" He grinned.
2. ASOS Sansa VI (LF links himself to stone, sheep and shit)
"So silent, my lady?" said Petyr. "I was certain you would wish to give me your blessing. It is a rare thing for a boy born heir to stones and sheep pellets to wed the daughter of Hoster Tully and the widow of Jon Arryn."
3. Also, why would there be so many characters named Garth associated with Craster?
4. Note—In ASOS Samwell III, he and Gilly visit what he initially thinks is Whitetree. Later he decides it’s not Whitetree due to the tree’s face looking different and the size being smaller, but in AFFC he remembers it as Whitetree. Whitetree and Sam’s village both have an empty sheepfold, a well and a weirwood in the center but the buildings are different though Sam doesn’t seem to notice this. Whitetree has 4 while Sam’s village has a “handful” and also a longhall. I’m rather confused so I didn’t reference the chapter though you may want to check it out.
5. There might be a point to all of those Tyrion pissing passages.
EDIT ADDITION - Tywin’s Funeral: Rain, shit, farts and more Garths
Craster’s is linked to profuse rain as is Tywin’s funeral. Also like Craster, Tywin here is associated with even more shit. We have a strong Garth presence in Craster’s chapters. Here we have the flatulent Garth the Gross and King Garth the Twelfth. An interesting contrast between Twyin and Craster: Craster’s mouth turns down, Tywin’s turns up in death where it had always been down-turned in life as Tywin hated laughter.
Tywin's association with shit extends even into Essos. I'm starting to think that the drainage problems there were very bad.
ACOK Daenerys V
"You require passage for a hundred Dothraki, all their horses, yourself and this knight, and three dragons?" said the captain of the great cog Ardent Friend before he walked away laughing. When she told a Lyseni on the Trumpeteer that she was Daenerys Stormborn, Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, he gave her a deadface look and said, "Aye, and I'm Lord Tywin Lannister and shit gold every night."
A lot of posters have (validly) asked about the plot relevance if Craster is a Casterly. It ties into the history of the Casterlys and Lannisters and significant hints that their history is much more interesting (grey?) than we think.
So I’ve just come across some information which lets me just get to the point as to why it’s significant if Craster is a Casterly. Actually, Craster was a tangent on the Casterlys and Lannisters in general. I’ll have a lot more backup for this in the next post which also expands into other things.
Jaime dreams of creatures that want him under the cold, dark water in the caverns under Casterly Rock. Casterly Rock is described as “thrice the height of the Wall or the Hightower in Oldtown. Almost two leagues long from west to east…” so it’s entirely believable that things exist well hidden deep in Casterly Rock. Cowled is a synonym for shrouded in some contexts.
Around him stood a dozen tall dark figures in cowled robes that hid their faces. In their hands were spears. "
He had no choice but to descend. Down a twisting passageway he went, narrow steps carved from the living rock, down and down.
Crouching, listening, Jaime moved in a circle, ready for anything that might come out of the darkness. The water flowed into his boots, ankle deep and bitterly cold. Beware the water, he told himself. There may be creatures living in it, hidden deeps . . .
Notice here “Hooded” (another word for shrouded in some contexts), “necromancy” and “return from the grave” and “thralls”. Also note that Loreon is the first King. Given how people like to King themselves, he likely doesn't post date Lann and the Casterlys by much. Human thralls were kept at that time, but given that he was a powerful necromancer and what he did with the Lions, I wonder if his thralls were not something else.
Lann the Clever never called himself a king, as best we know, though some tales told centuries later have conferred that style on him posthumously. The first true Lannister king we know of is Loreon Lannister, also known as Loreon the Lion (a number of Lannisters through the centuries have been dubbed ‘the Lion’ or ‘the Golden,’ for understandable reasons), who made the Reynes of Castamere his vassals by wedding a daughter of that House, and defeated the Hooded King, Morgon Banefort, and his thralls in a war that lasted twenty years.
King Morgon was supposedly a necromancer of terrible power, and it is written that as he lay dying, he told the Lannisters who had slain him (amongst them three of Loreon’s own sons) that he would return from the grave to wreak vengeance upon them one and all. To prevent that, Loreon had Morgon’s body hacked into a hundred pieces and fed to his lions. In a grisly aftermath, however, those selfsame lions broke loose two years later in the bowels of Casterly Rock, and slew the king’s sons, just as the Hooded King had promised.
Dywen said Craster was a kinslayer, liar, raper, and craven, and hinted that he trafficked with slavers and demons. "And worse," the old forester would add, clacking his wooden teeth. "There's a cold smell to that one, there is."
Apparently the Westerlands Chapter in TWOIAF is abridged from this full version on GRRM’s website.
Thanks to the other posters on this thread as their mental meanderings helped greatly in filling in some holes! I’m guessing that this goes back to some connection with the Rhoyne. The Casterlys had reason to visit the Rhoyne after their gold discovery as the Rhoynar were expert metal workers. Garin’s curse of greyscale was ~700BC, long after the Casterlys, but we don’t know that greyscale (or something similar) didn’t exist long before that point or that it wasn’t used as a threat. At the same time the Valyrians made a truce with the Rhoyne instead of fire-and-blooding them like everyone else, they were avoiding the Casterlys and then later the Lannisters while we have reports of hooded lords who can perform necromancy and control thralls in the Westerlands. Given Tywin’s and Craster’s connections to “foul humors” and rain, it all sounds Shrouded Lord-ish.
The wealth of the westerlands was matched, in ancient times, with the hunger of the Freehold of Valyria for precious metals, yet there seems no evidence that the dragonlords ever made contact with the lords of the Rock, Casterly or Lannister. Septon Barth speculated on the matter, referring to a Valyrian text that has since been lost, suggesting that the Freehold's sorcerers foretold that the gold of Casterly Rock would destroy them.
TWOIAF—Ancient History: Valyria’s Children
In short, the names and numbers of the peoples who fell to Valyria are unknown to us today. What records the Valyrians kept of their conquests were largely destroyed by the Doom, and few if any of these peoples documented their own histories in a way that survived the Freehold's dominion.
A few, such as the Rhoynar, lasted against the tide for centuries, or even millennia. The Rhoynar, who founded great cities along the Rhoyne, were said to be the first to learn the art of iron-making.
ADWD Tyrion V
"The conquerors did not believe either, Hugor Hill," said Ysilla. "The men of Volantis and Valyria hung Garin in a golden cage and made mock as he called upon his Mother to destroy them. But in the night the waters rose and drowned them, and from that day to this they have not rested. They are down there still beneath the water, they who were once the lords of fire. Their cold breath rises from the murk to make these fogs, and their flesh has turned as stony as their hearts."
Valyria initially believed in the curses but later did not? Is that what restricted them at first?
Wild speculation here: it’s mentioned with the Rhoynar’s resistance against Valyria that they learned iron-making. Iron is placed on the statues at Winterell, Ironwoods surround Crasters’ keep, Ironwood doors on Winterfell’s crypt doors. Perhaps this is when the greyscale originated, or at least a predecessor and iron-making came along with it to contain and control it?
Notice Jaime’s connection to hoods, stone, water, fish, fishscales, and snow/all white in the quotes below. He’s a stone-like watcher of the dead, hooded, on chilly, dreary rainy day in a place that stinks (foul humors linked to the Shrouded Lord). He wears scales like Rhoynish armor and also mother-of-pearl. He's linked to snow and all white not unlike an Other. Also note another passage where Jaime sees a dead man he doesn’t recognize in the water along with a Tully trout. He saw a dead man in the water and wondered if he knew him. His Lannister hair disappears under the water as it’s cut off. He then looks at himself in the water and doesn’t recognize himself.
AFFC Cersei II
Under the Great Sept's lofty dome of glass and gold and crystal, Lord Tywin Lannister's body rested upon a stepped marble bier. At its head Jaime stood at vigil, his one good hand curled about the hilt of a tall golden greatsword whose point rested on the floor. The hooded cloak he wore was as white as freshly fallen snow, and the scales of his long hauberk were mother-of-pearl chased with gold. Lord Tywin would have wanted him in Lannister gold and crimson, she thought. It always angered him to see Jaime all in white.
She glanced at Jaime. Her twin stood as if he had been carved from stone, and would not meet her eyes.
TWOIAF Ten Thousand Ships
The Rhoynish warrior with his silver-scaled armor, fish-head helm, tall spear, and turtle-shell shield was esteemed and feared by all those who faced him in battle. It was said the Mother Rhoyne herself whispered to her children of every threat, that the Rhoynar princes wielded strange, uncanny powers, that Rhoynish women fought as fiercely as Rhoynish men, and that their cities were protected by "watery walls" that would rise to drown any foe.
ASOS Jaime I
Birds flew overhead, or cried out from the trees along the shore, and Jaime glimpsed silvery fish knifing through the water. Tully trout, there's a bad omen, he thought, until he saw a worse—one of the floating logs they passed turned out to be a dead man, bloodless and swollen. His cloak was tangled in the roots of a fallen tree, its color unmistakably Lannister crimson. He wondered if the corpse had been someone he knew.
Cleos hacked away manfully, sawing and ripping his way through the mats and tossing the hair over the side. The golden curls floated on the surface of the water, gradually falling astern. As the tangles vanished, a louse went crawling down his neck.
The reflection in the water was a man he did not know. Not only was he bald, but he looked as though he had aged five years in that dungeon; his face was thinner, with hollows under his eyes and lines he did not remember. I don't look as much like Cersei this way. She'll hate that.
In the passage above where Jaime is described not unlike the (hooded) Shrouded Lord, his gold sword is prominent. Valyria’s sorcerers prophesied that Casterly Rock gold (not silver) would end them. Craster wears a gold ring around his wrist and asks for an axe with gold inlay. Garin was hung in a gold cage when he issued his curse.
It’s long been speculated that the stonemen, greyscale and the stone statues of Winterfell (and the stonemen of Casterly Rock?) are tied to the Others and it has to do with bloodlines. Hence Craster’s relationship with the Others. Val says that greyscale is stronger on the other (Others’) side of the Wall.
ADWD Jon XI
Once outside and well away from the queen's men, Val gave vent to her wroth. "You lied about her beard. That one has more hair on her chin than I have between my legs. And the daughter … her face …"
"The grey death is what we call it."
"It is not always mortal in children."
"North of the Wall it is.
This also has interesting implications for Pycelle. He was exposed to the grey plague as a child. He does not say whether he caught it or not, though the hint is there. If Pycelle caught the grey plague as a child and is now immune and the Lannisters have greyscale or something similar at Casterly Rock, then Pycelle’s value to the Lannisters is clear. Note that Pycelle links Tywin’s doing what was needed to Quenton Hightower’s doing what was needed against the grey plague for the reader hinting that there was more to Tywin’s ruthlessness than it appears.
AFFC Jaime I
Without his beard, Pycelle looked not only old, but feeble. Shaving him was the cruelest thing Tyrion could have done, thought Jaime, who knew what it was to lose a part of yourself, the part that made you who you were. Pycelle's beard had been magnificent, white as snow and soft as lambswool, a luxuriant growth that covered cheeks and chin and flowed down almost to his belt. The Grand Maester had been wont to stroke it when he pontificated. It had given him an air of wisdom, and concealed all manner of unsavory things: the loose skin dangling beneath the old man's jaw, the small querulous mouth and missing teeth, warts and wrinkles and age spots too numerous to count. Though Pycelle was trying to regrow what he had lost, he was failing. Only wisps and tufts sprouted from his wrinkled cheeks and weak chin, so thin that Jaime could see the splotchy pink skin beneath.
"Ser Jaime, I have seen terrible things in my time," the old man said. "Wars, battles, murders most foul . . . I was a boy in Oldtown when the grey plague took half the city and three-quarters of the Citadel. Lord Hightower burned every ship in port, closed the gates, and commanded his guards to slay all those who tried to flee, be they men, women, or babes in arms. They killed him when the plague had run its course. On the very day he reopened the port, they dragged him from his horse and slit his throat, and his young son's as well. To this day the ignorant in Oldtown will spit at the sound of his name, but Quenton Hightower did what was needed. Your father was that sort of man as well. A man who did what was needed."
ADWD Tyrion V
Maesters and septons alike agreed that children marked by greyscale could never be touched by the rarer mortal form of the affliction, nor by its terrible swift cousin, the grey plague. "Damp is said to be the culprit," he said. "Foul humors in the air. Not curses."
I can’t say exactly what the plot relevance might be if Craster is a Casterly because I can’t say exactly what greyscale and the Others might have in common, though they do seem connected. The Lannisters and Craster and Casterly are all linked to greyscale and Shrouded Lord things like rain/water, damp/chill, shit/”foul humors”, creatures in dark frigid water, hooded necromancers, Craster’s rumored association with demons, his confirmed association with the Others, and it’s all looped into why the greyscale is always deadly north of the Wall.