Dustman's Cairn is located southeast of Morthal and south-southeast of the Labyrinthian. The entrance is blocked until the The Companions quest, "Proving Honor" has been activated. From Whiterun, head west past the Western Watchtower until reaching Fort Greymoor, then head north until locating it.
The first room contains Battle of Sancre Tor, a skill book that increases Two-Handed, along with a novice locked chest. The dungeon will begin with the Dragonborn fighting draugr. Once reaching the part where the Dragonborn gets locked in by pulling a lever, the Silver Hand will show up and surround Farkas, who will transform into a Werewolf and slaughter them all. Proceeding through the dungeon, they will now face a mix of Silver Hand and draugr.
Eventually, the Dragonborn will come to a large room with a locked iron door, the key for which is in the chest in the same room. The room immediately preceding this room has a locked wooden door (adept) that has some ingredients inside. Through the iron door a few skeevers will be encountered. There is also an alchemy lab. A passage off this room will lead to a spider's lair with a giant frostbite spider and a regular frostbite spider.
Next, pass through a waterfall and walk across some catwalks to run into some draugr. Walk through the next passage containing draugr crypts and come to an iron door. Through this door is an altar room with the fragment of Wuuthrad for the Companions quest "Proving Honor" and also a word wall which contains one of the words of power for the Fire Breath shout. Grabbing the fragment causes the draugr in the room to attack. There are several urns and a chest in the altar room. To exit the dungeon, take the stairs to the upper level in the altar room and go through the opening in one of the coffins. This leads to a secret passage exiting at the beginning room.
The Word Wall romanization and translation (word of power bolded):
"QETHSEGOL VahRUKIV KiiR JUN JAFNHAR WO LOS AG NahLaaS Naal YOL DO LOT DOVah LODUNOST"
(This) stone commemorates (the) child king Jafnhar who was burned alive by (the) fire of (the) great dragon Lodunost.
- Word of Power, "Fire, Fire Breath", in the last room.
- Battle of Sancre Tor, a two-handed skill book in the first room on a table.
- Shard of Wuuthrad (quest item)
- At the end there will be several waves of draugr. It is possible to short-circuit this ambush by attacking the coffins in the walls to bring them out one at a time before taking the fragment.
- This location is locked to the Dragonborn prior to "Proving Honor." For a list of locations unlocked by quests, see Dungeon Lock Outs.
- The name comes from the Nordic expression for draugr, "dustman."
- This location is one of the very few locations in the game in which birds' nests are found indoors.
- It is possible to access Dustman's Cairn without joining The Companions. To enter the rest of the ruin, enter and deal with the Draugr that emerge from the coffins, then face the stone wall next to the first coffin on the left. There should be decorative urns near the base. This is the "exit" one uses when completing "Proving Honor," but can also be glitched through with a Wooden Plate pressed up to it and running (or using Whirlwind Sprint) to phase through the door. Once on the other side, pull the lever to lower the door and let any followers through. Head down the tunnel until transported to the next area, which is actually the boss room. A Draugr with his back to you is resting in his coffin. Attack him to make him exit out the front, which will leave the coffin empty and able to be phased through with a wooden plate. Once on the other side, kill him to make the coffin lid pop open, allowing followers to enter the room. To the left is a normally inaccessible Word Wall for Fire Breath and some leveled healing or magicka potions on the table before it, as well as a Fragment of Wuuthrad, which should not be picked up, as it is a quest item and will be stuck in the inventory. While there are Draugr in most of the coffins in the room, there are only one in each, instead of the many during the Companions quest. All loot is intact, as well as most enemies, though not nearly as many Silver Hand as found in the quest. Most doors are able to be opened, barring the double door that leads to a room full of Silver Hand members. In order to access this room, the door needs to be phased through with a wooden plate, though the Silver Hand on the other side will notice and become hostile. Note that the Dustman's Cairn Key, which opens said door, does not appear in the chest in the room, meaning that it cannot be unlocked. The small area where Farkas transforms into a werewolf and the short tunnel beyond cannot be accessed, as the lever that opens the grate does not work. In order to leave, one needs to go back the way they came, including glitching through the key-locked doors again. On can also use the console command
tlcto enter and explore, but are still barred by the same grate.
- However, the cairn cannot be reset if console commands were used to enter before the quest was activated, thus forcing one to reload to an earlier save in order to continue the Companions questline.
This section contains bugs related to Dustman's Cairn. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- When doing the Companions quest for the search of the shard of Wuuthrad, there is a graphical bug near the ending of the dungeon. The walls might flash blue, then when the Dragonborn leaves, everything is pitch black. Quitting and restarting the game fixes this.
- Right next to the first wooden door in Dustman's Cairn is a pot in a small alcove. If walked into, the Dragonborn phases through the ground and will fall for a short time before being dropped back at the beginning where the Dragonborn first entered the room.