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The Mechanism can only be activated with an Attunement Sphere that can be obtained during the quest "Discerning the Transmundane." Once activated, the Mechanism rotates and unlocks a stairwell beneath it that leads to the ancient Dwemer ruins of Blackreach. These Mechanisms seem to be the only way to access Blackreach.
A similar-looking Mechanism can be found north of Winterhold, inside Septimus Signus's Outpost. This Mechanism unlocks a large Dwemer lockbox which contains the Oghma Infinium, the artifact of the Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora.
- A Dwemer scholar, Thelwe Ghelein, managed to decipher the ancient Dwemer phrase "FalZhardum Din" that he found on several of these ornate metal frames. It translated to "Blackest Kingdom Reaches," which of course alludes to Blackreach.