Elder Scrolls


47,245pages on
this wiki
Add New Page
Add New Page Talk6

Saarthal is an ancient Nordic tomb in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It used to be the capital of Skyrim and was built by Ysgramor, before it was sacked by the Snow Elves. It is the final resting place of Jyrik Gauldurson.


It was the capital city of the Empire of the Nords, which was established by Ysgramor. It was one of the first cities established by men in Tamriel. The Snow Elves destroyed this city in what is now known as the Night of Tears, and only Ysgramor and his two sons escaped during the carnage.[1]

Later, the destruction of this city would be avenged when Ysgramor returned with his famed warriors, the Five Hundred Companions.[2] The famed enchanter known as Ahzidal heard of the arrival of Ysgramor and the Five Hundred, he went to them, and offered his services to him and his army.[3] With steel imbued with powerful enchantments, Ysgramor, the Five Hundred Companions and Ahzidal began to hunt down the remaining Snow Elves across Skyrim and Solsthiem, and a war would begin between the two races. The Five Hundred Companions eventually won, with the vast majority of the Snow Elves dying in the line of duty.[2] Archaeologist Floronius discovered that the Snow Elves had an intricate understanding of the city's layout before launching their assault.[4] The battle which destroyed Saarthal may have been over the "Eye of Magnus," which the Snow Elves held dear to their culture.[1]


"What business do College mages have in a place like Saarthal, anyway? It's a place for Nord dead... not your weird experiments."
Hold Guard

Under SaarthalEdit

The Dragonborn visits this location with three other mage-apprentices after joining the College of Winterhold. First, they are instructed to help a fellow College of Winterhold scholar, Arniel Gane, to retrieve 4 enchanted artifacts from various locations in the ruins.

Doing so, the Saarthal Amulet is discovered. When the amulet is worn and a spell is cast towards the door it opens to a burial chamber. Along with Tolfdir, the Dragonborn enters the room where they see a vision of Nerien, a member of Psijic Order. If the location is visited before "Under Saarthal," the door to the inner rooms remains locked.

Nerein warns that the Eye of Magnus, an artifact found within, must be obtained and protected by the College of Winterhold, because interested parties want to exploit its power. The Dragonborn and Tolfdir discover the device, and slay the Draugr protecting it. Afterwards, the Dragonborn rushes back to the college to warn Arch-Mage Savos Aren of the discovery.

Solving the puzzleEdit

The puzzle with the rotating pillars is solved by discovering the animal symbol behind each pillar. This can be done by carefully looking at the wall while using a torch or casting Magelight or the Candlelight spell, or turning up the game's lighting via the Settings menu.

Activating certain pillars will rotate a number of the others. The pillar on the left closest to the door will turn all of the other pillars, the pillar on the left furthest from the door will turn both of the pillars on the right, the pillar on the right closest to the door will turn the pillar in front of it and the pillar on the right furthest from the door will not turn any other pillars. The pillars should be activated in descending order of how many other pillars will turn with them, and should be set to (in that order): whale, snake, eagle, whale.

Forbidden LegendEdit

After stealing his share of his father's amulet, Jyrik Gauldurson fled to Saarthal, and was eventually defeated in battle there and was entombed within Saarthal, bound by a Writ of Sealing. The Dragonborn destroys Jyrik and recovers his fragment of the amulet needed to reconstruct the original.


Notable itemsEdit



  • To the northwest of Saarthal, a dead, frozen Mammoth sticking out of a wall of ice can be found. Spears of Dwarven make are lodged in its body. Dwarven arrows can also be found. The Mammoth must have fallen down into a glacier and frozen solid after being killed by the ancient Dwarves, thousands of years ago.
  • Once cleared of enemies, the location remains cleared out, though the sound of the Eye of Magnus remains on its "pedestal."


This section contains bugs related to Saarthal. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  / XB1  ,  PS3  / PS4  ,  PC  / MAC  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person-anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
  •  360   Followers may disappear upon entering the ruin. They may also refuse to enter at all, remaining outside.
  • The Dragonborn may not be able to rotate the pillars when trying to solve the puzzle. If this is the matter either reload the game to an earlier save, or just simply walk back and re-enter the area.
  • The door may not open even when the pillars are in the correct position. Reload to a point prior to entering that area and replay to fix.
  • It is possible to retrieve the amulet without retrieving any of the other artifacts.
  •  360   The Dragonborn may not be able to enter because Tolfdir will not show up during the quest "Under Saarthal." Wait a few hours near the door and he should appear.



Start a Discussion Discussions about Saarthal

  • Jyrik Glitch

    2 messages
    • I was in the ruins and I used whirlwind sprint to get to a remote place, and then suddenly I phased through the wall and fell out of the world....
    • There are some spots in walls and floors with very small gaps in, with a bit of force (like Whirlwind Sprint) you can pass through them and out...
  • Is Saarthal the Fortress of Ice from Arena?

    5 messages
    • On top of that, Saarthal is west of Winterhold, not south.
    • Lore explicitly states that Saarthal was a nordic city built by Ysgamor and later sacked by the Snow Elves long before Shalidor was ever thou...

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki