Bear Island is a large island in the Bay of Ice, north-west of Deepwood Motte and Winterfell. It is somewhat remote and is a cold, windswept island of forests and hills where the people mostly live in wooden villages and townships. Crofters tend to live inland, but most of the people live along the coasts and feed off of fish. Bears live in the forests, and give the island its name and the ruling house its heraldic symbol.
Bear Island is somewhat poor in resources, but its people hold it to be a beautiful land of ancient trees, flowering thorn bushes and creeks .
Bear Island is the stronghold of House Mormont, stalwart supporters and allies of the Starks. According to history, the island was ruled by House Woodfort until the Iron King of the Iron Islands invaded and conquered the island. The Woodforts were destroyed. However, the Ironborn were unable to hold the island and were eventually forced to abandon it. The King in the North, Rodrik Stark, won the island in a wrestling match and gave it the Mormonts, at that time loyal vassals of the Starks, for their stalwart service.
The Mormont castle (unnamed so far) is actually a wooden longhall, surrounded by an earthern palisade. There is a carving on the gate of the Mormont keep depicting a woman holding a babe in one arm and a battleaxe in the other, to represent the fact that whilst the men of the island would be away fishing, the women would have to defend home and hearth against Ironborn raiders, or wildling forces crossing over from the Frozen Shore to attack The North. This has given the women of Bear Island a fierce reputation, and female warriors are commonplace there, unlike other areas of Westeros, especially The South, where they are almost unknown.