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Who Are Jon Snow’s Parents?

The debate about the parentage of the bastard Jon Snow has been one of the biggest concerning the series. In SSM, #159, George R.R. Martin admitted that Jon’s parents will eventually be revealed in later volumes of the series. Thus, the reader can assume that the secret of his parentage will play some important point in the plot, and that there has been some sort of foreshadowing leading up to this.

Currently, there are three pairs of parents that seem likely. One pair we know of because of rumors that circulate throughout the Seven Kingdoms. One pair we know of from the mouths of Eddard Stark and Edric Dayne. And one pair we know of simply through the power of observation and deduction. These three possibilities will tackled in the order listed above.


Ashara Dayne, the lady of Starfall, was apparently a love interest of Eddard before Robert’s Rebellion. After the war’s end, we know that Ashara committed suicide by throwing herself out of a tower into the sea. (GoT, pg. 487). Anything else in between is pure speculation.

From the moment Eddard brought Jon home from the south, rumors have circulated that Ashara was Jon’s true mother. Catelyn heard the story from the servants at Winterfell (GoT, pg. 65), and Eddard has an interesting answer when she asks him about it:

“Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.And now I will learn where you heard that name, my lady.”She had pledged to obey; she told him; and from that day on, the whispering had stopped, and Ashara Dayne’s name was never heard in Winterfell again.

Note that Eddard does not deny the rumors, and he wants to put an end to them. As Tyrion Lannister says, “When you tear out a man’s tongue, you’re not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world what you fear he might say.” (CoK, pg. 229)

Yet the rumors leaked out and got around. Cersei heard them (GoT, pg. 487). So did Edric Dayne (SoS, pg. 495) and Harwin (SoS, pg. 496). But is there any truth to these rumors?

Certainly, Eddard and Ashara seemed to at least have a crush on each other. Edric Dayne tells Arya that Eddard and Ashara fell in love at Harrenhal. (SoS, pg. 495). This certainly rings true. We know from Meera’s story about the Knight of the Laughing Tree that Eddard and Ashara danced together at the tourney at Harrenhal in the year of the false spring.

“The crannogman saw a maid with laughing purple eyes dance...with the quiet wolf...but only after the wild wolf spoke to her on behalf on his brother too shy to leave his bench.” (SoS, pg. 281)

The quiet wolf was Eddard, and we know that Ashara has violet eyes from (GoT, pg. 65).

However, the tourney at Harrenhal occurred one or two years before Robert’s Rebellion--if Jon were conceived during this period, he should be much older than he is. Therefore, we have to assume that Jon was conceived sometime during the war or very soon before it broke out. But how? At this point, Eddard is already wed to Catelyn, and we have so many references to his famous honor that it seems unlikely he would father a bastard with an old love interest. We do know that Eddard traveled to Starfall after Lyanna’s death to return Arthur Dayne’s sword Dawn to its home. But Eddard would have had to stay at Starfall for NINE MONTHS while Jon was conceived and born in order for Eddard to bring him home. We have no record of such a lengthy stay in Dorne, but this does not mean it could not have happened.

Another possibility is that Eddard and Ashara had been secretly meeting in some third location more some time since the tourney at Harrenhal. It is a possibility that they met one last time soon before the rebellion broke out, and it was then that Jon was conceived. While there is no evidence to support this theory, there is none to deny it, either.

Whether or not Ashara is Jon’s mother, she killed herself after the war was done. Why? There could be several reasons.

1) Grief at her brother Arthur Dayne’s death at Eddard’s hands.
2) Grief that Eddard fathered Jon off someone else. (Perhaps Wylla? See below)
3) Grief that Eddard fathered Jon off her, but still wants to return to Catelyn, his true wife
4) A combination of 1) and 2)
5) A combination of 1) and 3)

In conclusion, we know that Eddard and Ashara were a love interest, but the rumors concerning that fact that she is Jon’s mother may or may not have any merit. Her suicide was most likely a combination of several factors. While some evidence points toward the fact that Ashara is Jon’s mother, we have more tempting prospects with more evidence, as discussed below.


Wylla is a wet nurse in service to House Dayne. She is a particularly strong suspect for Jon’s mother, because Eddard himself told Robert that Wylla mothered Jon. She is first mentioned at Game of Thrones, pg. 110:

“You told me once. Was it Merryl? You know the one I mean, your bastard’s mother?”
“Her name was Wylla,” Ned replied with cool courtesy, “and I would sooner not speak of her.”
“Wylla, yes.” The king grinned. “She must have been a rare wench if she could make Lord Eddard Stark forget his honor, even for an hour. You never told me what she looked like...”
Ned’s mouth tightened in anger. “Nor will I. Leave it be, Robert, for the love you say you bear me. I dishonored myself and I dishonored Catelyn, in the sight of gods and men.”

Interesting. Eddard only has one reason as to why he might lie to Robert about Jon’s mother, and that is discussed in point number III (see below). But the fact is, he claims Wylla is Jon’s mother, and this can later be backed up.

However, there can be an alternate interpretation of Eddard's remarks. Some people have pointed out that Eddard may have been answering Robert's question, "You know the one that I mean?" When Eddard answers 'Wylla,' he is referring to that question, and thus he is not directly lying to Robert. Wylla may have been the woman whom Robert was referring to, but Eddard may not be confirming that she is Jon's mother. This fits in with Ned's famous honor and that fact that he hardly ever lies.

On Storm of Swords, pg. 494, Arya has a conversation with Edric Dayne, who was born and raised at Starfall.

“How do you know about Jon?”
“He is my milk brother.”
“Brother?” Arya did not understand. But you’re from Dorne. How could you and Jon be blood?”
Milk brothers. Not blood. My lady mother had no milk when I was little, so Wylla had to nurse me.”
Arya was lost. “Who’s Wylla?”
“Jon Snow’s mother. He never told you? She’s served us for years and years. Since before I was born.”
“Jon never knew his mother. Not even her name.” Arya gave Ned a wary look. “You know her? Truly?”
Is he making a mock of me? “If you lie, I’ll punch your face.”
“Wylla was my wetnurse,” he repeated solemnly. “I swear it on the honor of my House.”
“You have a House?” That was stupid; he was a squire, of course he had a house. “Who are you?”

“My lady?” Ned looked embaressed. “I’m Edric Dayne, the...the Lord of Starfall.”

So...we have it from two sources that Wylla is Jon’s mother. It almost all fits together, except for a few facts. As with Ashara (see above), Eddard would have had to spend an awfully long time at Starfall with Wylla in order for Jon to be conceived and born before he was taken back north. Still, that’s not impossible that Eddard had a prolonged vacation in Dorne.

So why is it not commonly accepted that Wylla is Jon’s mother? For one, there are far more clues that point to Number III (see below) being correct. Yet whoever Jon’s mother is, it seems that Wylla at least knew Eddard and was part of the plot, because she and Eddard, hundreds of miles apart, both maintain the same story.

It’s possible that the whole Wylla thing is just a red herring that was thrown out to confuse us. But whoever she is, there’s no doubt that she holds an important piece of information. With the exception of Howland Reed, Wylla may be the only living person who knows the truth about Jon’s parentage, whether or not she is truly Jon’s mother.


At first glance, this suggestion seems ludicrous. Rhaegar and Lyanna? There’s no direct evidence or personal claims to support this, as opposed to both Ashara Dayne and Wylla. Yet there are subtle, benign clues. Lots of them, in fact. And the more one looks at them, the more one is convinced that this could be the answer. The theory is a complicated one. First, the entire possible story will be given, in order for the reader to gain full understanding of the theory, and then I’ll provide various pieces of evidence for each portion of this hypothosis, complete with quotes and page numbers (and lots of ‘em!). Finally, I’ll ponder on why this could have happened.

1) The Story

Rhaegar Targaryen married Elia Martell, and fathered two children off her, Rhaenys and Aegon. Yet the marriage was political, and at the Harrenhal tourney in the year of the false spring, Rhaegar met his true love--Lyanna Stark. Together, the pair fell in love, and ran off together some time after, to the Tower of Joy in the Red Mountains of Dorne.

There, Rhaegar impregnated Lyanna. However, Rhaegar had to go leave to fight Robert, and three of the Kingsguard were sent to the Tower of Joy to protect Lyanna and her unborn child. Somehow, Eddard and his battle companions discovered Lyanna’s location. They assumed that Lyanna was abducted by Rhaegar, and did not join him by her own free will.

Eddard and the northmen reach the Tower of Joy, and battle ensues with the Kingsguard. At the end, only Eddard and the crannogman Howland Reed are left alive. Eddard enters the tower to find Lyanna. She has given birth to the baby, but, due to complications of childbirth, she is dying. She makes Eddard promise not to reveal the child’s true parentage to anyone, lest Robert’s hatred of Targaryens lead him to kill the child. Then she dies.

Eddard names the child Jon. He, Jon and possibly Howland all ride to Starfall, to return the greatsword Dawn which used to belong to Arthur Dayne until he was killed in the fighting. There, perhaps Eddard and Wylla conspire to pretend Wylla is Jon’s mother, to protect Jon. Also, Ashara kills herself (for the possible reasons, see above).

Eddard then rides north with Jon, claiming the son is his and Wylla’s to protect Jon from Robert’s Targaryen hatred.

2) The Evidence

a) Rhaegar’s Personality--True Love With Lyanna?

At the beginning of the series, the reader comes off with a general disliking of Rhaegar Targaryen. However, most opinions about Rhaegar comes from Robert. While Robert makes Rhaegar out to be an evil man and a rapist, this could be because Rhaegar stole away Lyanna, Robert’s true love. Clearly, no other character has this dislike for Rhaegar, and most other characters seems to repsect and adore him. Just a brief selection:

He {Ned} wondered if Rhaegar had frequented brothels. Somehow he thought not. --GoT, pg. 381.

The knight {Jorah} gave her a curious look. “You are your brother’s sister, in truth.”
“Viserys?” She {Dany} did not understand.
"No,” he answered. “Rhaegar.”
--GoT, pg.668

{Dany said,} “There is some good to be said of my father, surely?”
“There is, Your Grace. Of him, and those who came before him. Your grandfather Jaehaerys and his brother, their father Aegon, you mother...and Rhaegar. Him most of all.”
--SoS, pg. 815

So it appears that Eddard, Jorah and Barristan all disagree with Robert and think that Rhaegar was a fine, upstanding citizen...hardly the sort of man who would abduct a young girl against her will. Perhaps even Robert realizes this:

Confused, the king shook his head. “Rhaegar...Rhaegar won, damn him. I killed him, Ned, I drove that spike right through his black armor into his black heart and he died at my feet...Yet somehow he still won. He has Lyanna now, and I have her.”--GoT, pg. 430

The quote might possibly be interpreted as Robert admitting that Lyanna went willingly with Rhaegar. For this seems like a likely possibility--Lyanna fell in love with Rhaegar, and went off with him. We know she had no great love for Robert:

“Robert will never keep to one bed,” Lyanna had told him at Winterfell, on the night long ago when their father had promised her hand to the young Lord of Storm’s End. “I hear he has gotten a child on some young girl in the Vale.” Ned had held the babe in his arms; he could scarcely deny her, nor would he lie to his sister, but he assured her that what Robert did before their betrothal was of no matter, that he was a good man and true who would love her with all his heart. Lyanna had only smiled. “Love is sweet, dearest Ned, but it cannot change a man’s nature.”--GoT, pg. 379

So clearly Lyanna did not truly love Robert, and Rhaegar was not the evil man who Robert made him out to be. So it seems likely that the pair fell in love, and we have some proof to support this. For example, at the tourney at Harrenhal in the year of the false spring, Rhaegar won the jousting contest. But instead of crowning his own wife Elia the queen of love and beauty, he crowned Lyanna (SoS, pg. 486). Ned reflects on this while hallucinating:

Ned remembered the moment when all the smiles died, when Prince Rhaegar Targaryen urged his horse past his own wife, the Dornish princess Elia Martell, to lay the queen of beauty’s laurel in Lyanna’s lap. He could see it still: a crown of winter roses, as blue as frost.
Ned Stark reached out his hand to grasp the flowery crown, but beneath the pale blue petals, the thorns lay hidden...
--GoT, pg. 631

This is obviously a significant moment, for Eddard to remember it while locked in a cell. And we have another reference to Lyanna falling for Rhaegar at the Harrenhal tourney, from Meera’s story about the Knight of the Laughing Tree:

“The dragon prince sang a song so sad it made the wolf maid sniffle, but when her pup brother teased her for crying she poured wine over his head.”
--SoS, pg. 281

The dragon prince is Rhaegar; the wolf maid is Lyanna. It certainly seems implied that she is falling in love with him. And another hint from Meera:

“And the mystery knight should defeat all challengers and name the wolf maid the queen of love and beauty.”
“She was,” said Meera. “But that’s a sadder story.”
--SoS, pg. 283

And then we have several other references which are ambiguous, almost deliberately so:

Yet sometimes Dany would picture it the way it had been...Her brother Rhaegar battling the Usurper in the bloody waters of the Trident and dying for the woman he loved...
---GoT, pg. 30

And when Dany sees visions in the House of the Undying:

Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman’s name...
---CoK, pg. 706

In both these quotes, GRRM avoids using the word ‘Elia’ and instead uses ‘the woman’ or ‘the woman he loved’ suggesting that it could be someone besides Elia...Lyanna, perhaps?

b) The Kingsguard, the Tower of Joy and Lyanna’s Death.

On page 424 of Game of Thrones, Eddard is dreaming while under the influence of the milk of the poppy for his injured leg. During this time, he has a dream about his fight with the Kingsguard at the Tower of Joy. GRRM has stated that this dream is not completely literal (Ned was dreaming, after all) but some basic facts can be gleaned from it.

One is that three men of the Kingsguard, Ser Arthur Dayne, Ser Gerold Hightower, and Ser Oswell Whent, were present at the Tower of Joy. This is curious since, as far as the reader knows, there is no royal blood present at the Tower of Joy--just Lyanna. Then why are they there, instead of with Viserys or Daenerys? (Rhaegar and Aerys are dead by this time.)

The obvious reason is, of course, that Lyanna is carrying Rhaegar’s baby, and the Kingsguard are there to protect that portion of the royal blood. But would Rhaegar trust these men with such a secret? Probably. Barristan told Dany that Rhaegar’s oldest and truest friend was Arthur Dayne (SoS, pg. 90), so he was probably just the man to trust with such a secret.

The Kingsguard evidentally had an effect on Eddard. On GoT, pg. 502, just the sight of three men in white cloaks sends a chill through him.

Then there comes the curious matter of Lyanna’s death. From Eddard’s thoughts on GoT, pg. 43, we learn that she died of a fever, in a room that smelled of ‘blood and roses.’ Since the fighting took place outside the tower,. we can theorize that the blood came from Lyanna’s childbirth. We know the blood came from Lyanna, because on GoT, pg. 424, Eddard remembers ‘Lyanna in her bed of blood.’ Her bed of blood--the blood came from her, and blood is not usually the effect of a fever. And GRRM has been known to liken this term to birthing--on GoT, pg. 674, Mirri Maz Duur says she knows the secrets of the ‘bloody bed,’ meaning birthing.

c) “Promise Me, Ned”

“I was with her when she died,” Ned reminded the king. “She wanted to come home, to rest beside Brandon and Father.” He could still hear her at times. Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned. The fever had taken her strength and her voice had been faint as a whisper, but when he gave his word, the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes.
---GoT, pg. 43

From the quote above, Eddard implies that his promise to Lyanna was to bury her at Winterfell. However, he recalls the quote throughout the book at the strangest times and places, suggesting that the promise meant something more. From above, the simple phrase ‘the fear had gone out of his sister’s eyes’ suggests that the promise is something deeper--why should she be so scared about where she is buried? It has been suggested that what Eddard was really promising was to keep Jon’s identity a secret, and this can be supported by the manner in which he recalls Lyanna’s words.

“You avenged Lyanna at the Trident,” Ned said, halting beside the king. Promise me, Ned, she had whispered.
--GoT, pg. 116

This quote could be explained away by the fact that Eddard referred to Lyanna. But Robert killing Rhaegar doesn’t have much to do with anything if Ned promised to bury Lyanna at Winterfell. The quote fits better if Ned’s promise was concerning Jon, because it would fit with Robert’s hatred of Targaryens.

He remembered Rhaegar’s infant son, the red ruin of his skull, and the way the king had turned away, as he had turned away in Darry’s audience hall not so long ago. He could still hear Sansa pleading, as Lyanna had pleaded once.
---GoT, pg. 199

Now this is interesting. Why in the world would Eddard compare Sansa pleading for Lady’s life to Lyanna pleading to be buried in Winterfell--especially in the context of Robert’s hatred of Targaryens? This references makes absolutely no sense unless one accepts that Lyanna was pleading to keep Jon’s identity secret from Robert.

“I will,” Ned promised her. That was his curse. Robert would swear undying love and forget them before evenfall, but Ned Stark kept his vows. He thought of the promises he made to Lyanna as she lay dying, and the price he’d paid to keep them.
--GoT, pg. 380

Again, this doesn’t make much sense in the context of Ned promising Lyanna to bury her at Winterfell. What price would he had to have paid to do this? If the promise concerned Jon, on the other hand, the quote makes sense. Ned has certainly paid a price by claiming Jon is his own son, especially with Catelyn.

The next quote comes from Eddard’s dream:

“Promise me, Ned,” Lyanna’s statue whispered. She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.
--GoT, pg. 501

Eddard seems to have a lot of violent and troubled dreams concerning his promise to Lyanna. Why? It seems unnatural for him to place that much importance on simply burying her at Winterfell.

“Eat the bastard. Don’t care if you choke on him. Promise me, Ned.” {said Robert.}

“I promise.” “Promise me, Ned,” Lyanna’s voice echoed.
--GoT, pg. 505

This quote can simply be attributed to Eddard likening his promises to Robert on his deathbed to his promises to Lyanna on hers.

So with so many references to these promises, if seems like they were very important in Eddard’s mind; certainly more important than ensuring Lyanna was buried at Winterfell. They could very well be about Jon; if not, then of something of equal importance.

d) Blue Winter Roses

Along with ‘Promise me, Ned,’ Eddard also remembers blue roses at the strangest times. This can also be attribuited to Lyanna. She loved the smell of blue winter roses. (GoT, pg. 631) And the crown for the queen of love and beauty that Rhaegar tossed her was made of the flower. (GoT, pg. 631). Of course, Ned’s references to blue roses could just be due to his grief over how Lyanna died, but they could mean something more...

Promise me, she had cried, in a room that smelled of blood and roses. Promise me, Ned...Ned remembered the way she had smiled then, how tightly her fingers had clutched his as she gave up her hold on life, the rose petals spilling from her palm, dead and black...”I bring her flowers when I can,”{Ned} said. “Lyanna was...fond of flowers.”
--GoT, pg. 43

The room in which Lyanna died smelled of roses, and she held some in her hand. Interesting. If Rhaegar knew that they were her favorite flower, he could have been trying to make her happy.

As they came together in a rush of steel and shadow, he could hear Lyanna screaming. “Eddard!” she called. A storm of rose petals blew across a blood-streaked sky, as blue as the eyes of death.
--GoT, pg. 425

Her {Cersei’s} eyes burned, green fire in the dusk, like the lioness that was her sigil. “The night of our wedding feast, the first time we shared a bed, he called me by your sister’s name. He was on top of me, in me, stinking of wine, and he whispered Lyanna.”
Ned thought of pale blue roses, and for a moment he wanted to weep.

--GoT, pg. 480

“Promise me, Ned,” Lyanna’s statue whispered. She wore a garland of pale blue roses, and her eyes wept blood.
--GoT, pg. 501

The slim, sad girl who wore a crown of pale blue roses and a white gown spattered with gore could only be Lyanna.
--CoK, pg. 809

The real clincher comes with a vision Dany has in the House of the Undying.

A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness.
--CoK, pg. 707

This quote strongly implies that Lyanna’s blue roses have something to do with the Wall (the ‘wall of ice’) This makes perfect sense because Jon, the product of Lyanna and her blue roses, is on the Wall.

One more final clue comes on CoK, pg. 746. Ygritte tells Jon a story about Bael the Bard. Bael picked a blue winter rose from Winterfell’s greenhouse unasked; a year later, he returned the son he fathered off Lord Stark’s daughter in payment for that rose. Since Rhaegar is known to be a great fan of music and songs, it is likely that he heard this story, and was fulfilling his romantic outlook on life by imitating Bael in the blue roses.

e) Lies, Broken Promises and Troubled Dreams

Since Eddard is described as an honorable man, one would think that he would feel guilty over the fact that he is lying to the world about Jon’s parentage. Well, he certainly feels guilty over something. Throughout the book, there are numerous references to the fact that he feels guilty for telling lies. These lies most likely have to do with Jon or something as equally serious.

Troubled sleep was no stranger to him {Ned}. He had lived lies for fourteen years, yet they still haunted him at night.
--GoT, pg. 115

Since Jon is fourteen years old at this time, this strongly implies that Eddard’s fourteen years of lies are about Jon. The fact that they still haunt him at night fits in with Eddard’s dreams about blue roses and the Tower of Joy.

“She whined and looked at me and a felt so ‘shamed, but it was right, wasn’t it? The queen would have killed her.”

“It was right,” her father said. “And even the lie was...not without honor.”
--GoT, pg. 222

Eddard could easily be comparing Arya’s honorable lies to his own.

Some secrets are safer kept hidden. So secrets are too dangerous to share, even with those you love and trust. {Ned thought}
--GoT, pg. 357

This seems to imply that Ned has secrets of his own.

The rain had driven everyone under their roofs. It beat down on Ned’s head, warm and relentless as old guilts.
--GoT, pg. 379

The deceit made him {Ned} feel soiled. The lies we tell for love, he thought. May the gods forgive me.
--GoT, pg. 504

All these above quotes seen to suggest that Eddard has been lying about something for fourteen years. If not Jon, then what? There are probably other options, but Jon seems the most likely at this point.

f) Thoughts Concerning Jon

Most of the above quotes had to do with pointing evidence at Lyanna or Rhaegar. However, a sizeable number of quotes do suggest that Jon is mroe than just a normal bastard boy. For one, Eddard never seems to refer to Jon as his son, which is interesting.

“Never ask me about Jon,” he said, cold as ice. “He is my blood, and that is all you need to know.”
--GoT, pg. 65

Note that Eddard calls Jon ‘my blood,’ not ‘my son.’ This could be a hint that Eddard is still trying to tell as much truth as possible, because Jon is still his nephew if he is Lyanna’s son. And then, on GoT, pg. 486:

Ned thought, If it came to that, the life of some child I did not know, against Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon, what would I do? Even more so, what would Catelyn do, if it were Jon’s life, against the children of her body. He did not know. He prayed he never would.

Eddard lists off all his children in his mind, but conviently does not include Jon on the list. Interesting.

Eddard then has some more thoughts about Jon while locked in a cell underneath the Red Keep, waiting to die.

The thought of Jon filled Ned with a sense of shame, a sorrow too deep for words. If only he could see the boy again, sit and talk with him...
--GoT, pg. 635

Why, out of all his children, does Eddard want to talk with Jon before he dies? Could he finally want to reveal to him the secret of his parentage? Of course, Ned could be wanting to do this even if Jon’s mother was someone else, so this quote does not just apply to the Lyanna-Rhaegar scenario. Two pages earlier, Eddard asks Varys if he would deliver a letter. Perhaps Eddard wanted to put the secret of Jon’s mother in that letter for Varys to deliver.

Bran has an interesting dream which may add to the evidence.

“I dreamed about the crow last night. The one with three eyes. He flew into my bedchamber and told me to come with him, so I did. We went down to the crypts. Father was there, and we talked. He was sad.”

“And why was that?” Luwin peered through his tube.

“It was something to do about Jon, I think.” The dream had been deeply disturbing, more so that any of the other crow dreams.
--GoT, pg. 730

In the series thus far, most characters’ dreams have hinted at being prophetic or somewhat magical. The fact that Eddard was trying to tell Bran that there was something about Jon in the crypts may suggest that a secret about Jon is down there--near Lyanna’s statue, maybe?

Jon has a similar dream:

“I’m walking down this long empty hall...opening doors, shouting names...the castle is always empty...the stables are full of bones. That always scares me. I start to run, then, throwing open doors, climbing the tower three steps at a time, screaming for someone, for anyone. And then I find myself in front of the door to the crypts. It’s black inside, and I can see the steps spiraling down. Somehow I know I have to go down there, but I don’t want to. I’m afraid of what might be waiting for me...I scream that I’m not a Stark, that this isn’t my place, but it’s no good, I have to go down anyway, so I start down, feeling the walls as I descend, with no torch to light the way. It gets darker and darker, until I want to scream...that’s when I always wake.”
--GoT, pg. 267

This also seems to hint that Jon also has some sort of destiny in the crypts--again, perhaps his heritage? One more thing seems to hint at Jon’s parents:

“King,” croaked the raven. The bird flapped across the air to land on Mormont’s shoulder. “King,” it said again, strutting back and forth.
“He likes that word,” Jon said, smiling.
“An easy word to say. An easy word to like.”
“King,” the bird said again.
“I think he means for you to have a crown, my lord.”
“The realm has three kings already, and that’s two too many for my liking.” Mormont striked the raven under the beak with his finger, but all the while his eyes never left Jon Snow.
--CoK, pg. 105

This could be the random spoutings of a raven. Or it could be a subtle clue that Jon, as the only surviving son of Rhaegar, would be the king of Westeros if the Targaryens still reigned.

Yet another possible clue comes in the physical appearances of the characters. It has been stated numerous times throughout the series that Jon and Arya are similar in physical appearance. Arya is also often compared to Lyanna, such as Eddard's statement on GoT, pg. 221. Through logical sequence, Lyanna is indirectly being compared to Jon. (Lyanna looks like Arya and Arya looks like Jon.)

As one last tidbit of evidence, it can be said that if Jon is the son of Rhaegar and Lyanna, it fits with the series name ‘A Song of Ice and Fire.’ Jon seems to be shaping as the main character, and it woudl fit the series title if his parents were Rhaegar (fire) and Lyanna (ice).

3) But Why?

The way most characters describe it, Rhaegar seems to be a completely honest and honorable man. So why would he betray his wife and run off with Lyanna to father a legitmate child?

This is a question that cannot fully be answered, except for one vision that Dany has in the House of the Undying on CoK, pg. 527. In this scene, Dany sees Rhaegar and Elia standing over their newborn son Aegon. Rhaegar says that Aegon is the ‘prince that was promised,’ and his is the ‘song of ice and fire.’ Then, he enigmatically adds, ‘There must be one more...the dragon has three heads.’ The first two heads are evidently Rhaenys and Aegon. It’s possible that in whatever prophecy Rhaegar read, he thought that he needed to father a child off a Stark to produce the third head and the ‘song of ice and fire.’ Without further information we cannot speculate more, though. For a more indepth discussion of the topic, see the ‘Who is Azor Ahai reborn? Is he the same person as the Prince Who Was Promised?’ topic.


In conclusion, we have several tempting possibilities for Jon’s parents. It seems that the Ashara-Eddard rumor was just that, a rumor. The Eddard-Wylla scenario seems a likely possibility until one looks at the massive amount of evidence for the Rhaegar-Lyanna theory. If Jon’s mother is Lyanna, it seems likely that Wylla was in on the secret. If Jon’s mother was Wylla, then Eddard evidentally had some other secret lie in his past that he was hiding. As GRRM has promised that Jon’s parents will be revealed in a later volume, we will just have to patiently wait for the answer.