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Under Saarthal

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Under Saarthal is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

The quest serves as the second quest in the College of Winterhold's quest line. Tolfdir meets the whole class outside the ruin, before they start the expedition.


  1. Meet Tolfdir outside Saarthal.
  2. Follow Tolfdir.
  3. Find Arniel Gane.
  4. Use the Saarthal Amulet to escape the trap.
  5. Follow Tolfdir.
  6. Tell Tolfdir about the vision.
  7. Follow Tolfdir.
  8. Find danger within Saarthal.
  9. Talk to the Arch-Mage.


Saarthal excavationEdit

Tolfdir's class meets outside the ruins of Saarthal before beginning an academic exploration of the ruins. The Dragonborn may travel there with the other students as a group, and they will help deal with any bears or trolls encountered on the way. 

After some touring inside, Tolfdir will ask the Dragonborn to find Arniel Gane (one can simply run ahead to the quest marker and speak to Arniel without waiting for Tolfdir).

The Dragonborn must now find several artifacts, one of which is the Saarthal Amulet. The others are very small and hard to see, but clearly marked on the quest indicator as long as they are taken before the Amulet, or else the quest markers will disappear. The artifacts do not have to be returned to Arniel and can be kept.

Retrieving the Saarthal Amulet will trap the Dragonborn. Escape can be achieved by equipping the amulet and casting any spell (Shouts such as Unrelenting Force are also effective) on the tablet from which it originally came. (Tolfdir will approach outside the trapped area and suggest using the amulet if the Dragonborn should try to return to Arniel.) The tablet will break into pieces, revealing a passage and removing the blocking gates.

Tolfdir will then take the lead. When he gets to the room at the end of the passage, there will be a vision sequence, which only the Dragonborn will be able to see. After talking to Tolfdir about the vision, the Dragonborn will have to deal with draugr that appear from the three coffins in the room. The draugr can be killed with little or no risk of injury using archery; Tolfdir cannot be killed, so an effective tactic would be to shoot the draugr attacking him. If Tolfdir is knocked down the draugr will likely switch their attacks to the Dragonborn until Tolfdir gets up again.

The Dragonborn should then follow Tolfdir to a barred gate in a room. The lever to open the gate is on the right; the room beyond holds more draugr to be dealt with. Tolfdir will pass through the middle coffin into a large room where four draugr will arise from their wall crypts. The Dragonborn will help Tolfdir slay all of them (again, good Sneak and Archery can help the Dragonborn remain unnoticed and unharmed).

The two chains, one on each side of the gate, open the way to the next area.

Saarthal itselfEdit

There are a number of inconveniently placed traps that have the potential to provide a great deal of problems for some of the Dragonborn's followers, especially dogs. Most are pressure pads, so they can be avoided with some caution. The swinging pendulums are also difficult for followers to navigate, so keep healing spells handy or be ready to wait.

Ideally the Dragonborn should proceed alone, killing draugr as necessary. In a large room, there is a draugr, a rune trap, and two more draugr. An effective tactic would be to kill the first draugr and get the attention of the next two, so that when they approach, the trap can be triggered to damage them.

Pillar Puzzle 1Edit

After several more rooms and traps, there will be a door on the second floor near a broken coffin. Beyond there is a puzzle with six different movable pillars. The correct position for each pillar is shown on the wall directly behind and above them. This fact could easily be missed if the Dragonborn were not up close to the pillars. The Candlelight spell (or Night Eye) makes them easier to see. Once the pillars are properly set, the lever can be activated to open the gate.

In the next room there are two wooden ramps. As the Dragonborn nears the top of either one, a Draugr Deathlord, Draugr Wight or Draugr Scourge (level dependent) arise. An effective tactic would be to lure the draugr back to the pillar puzzle room and shut the gate. The Dragonborn would then be able to shoot arrows at the enemy whenever it appears from around the corner. Alternatively, a high Sneak skill and a potion of invisibility could be combined to sneak through the door near the top of the ramp, and close it. Provided the Dragonborn were quiet, the draugr would almost certainly remain unaware. There is a chest and other items to loot here. Beyond an iron door, there are two rune traps to pass. Activating either trap using a shout or magic will make noise and attract the draugr, while walking over the traps will not. The first rune trap can be easily avoided by walking around it, while second rune trap in the doorway can be jumped over without taking any damage. Passing over the second trap means the draugr is ultimately evaded.

Pillar Puzzle 2Edit

Solution spinning puzzle pillar

There are four pillars that give you the solution to the spinning puzzle pillars ahead. The second pillar on the left should be turned to whale first (because it turns the other three with it.) Then, the first pillar on the left should be turned to snake (that will turn the two on the right.) Next, the second pillar on the right should be turned to eagle (that one will turn the last one.) And finally, the first one on the right should be turned to whale.

Final battleEdit

After passing through the gate, Tolfdir will reappear. There is an Alchemy Lab in the north side of the room. Take caution, however, as there is also a poison dart trap trigger in the center of the floor. Through another iron door, in the final room, approaching the glowing will summon the draugr-shape of Jyrik Gauldurson. Initially, Jyrik is invulnerable, but after about 30 seconds, Tolfdir is able to weaken Jyrik by casting a spell on the glowing orb in the room, allowing the Dragonborn to deal damage. Jyrik can be a very difficult foe for a lower-level Dragonborn, as he knows a variety of Destruction spells, and wields an Ancient Nord War Axe with a frost enchantment on it.

Jyrik Gauldurson is powerful, on the level of a Draugr Deathlord. If the Dragonborn possesses good sneaking and archery skills, he can be defeated without risk. The Dragonborn should stay on the balcony, standing close enough to see the floor below without standing near the balcony's edge, and shoot Jyrik with arrows. He will run up to the balcony, but will only run along the edge and will fail to spot the Dragonborn; enough arrows and he will eventually perish.

Last stepsEdit

Jyrik's corpse bears a fragment of the Gauldur Amulet and the Writ of Sealing. The writ, when read, will start the quest "Forbidden Legend", if it has not been previously started. The Dragonborn should talk with Tolfdir to advance to the next stage of the quest (Return to the College). The Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson, which is on the altar, is an artifact worth collecting. Through the door behind the artifact and down to the garden is a Word Wall with the Dragon shout Ice Form, as well as a chest with leveled loot. Upon finally leaving Saarthal, the Dragonborn should travel back to the college to find the Arch-Mage (Savos Aren) and inform him of the discovery. The Arch-Mage will reward the Dragonborn with the Staff of Magelight, and the quest "Hitting the Books" will start.


Journal Entry

Tolfdir has decided to take us to investigate the ruins of Saarthal to explore the more practical uses of magic.

Tolfdir has asked the Apprentices to meet him at Saarthal, the site of an ongoing excavation by the College.

  • Objective: Meet Tolfdir outside Saarthal
  • Objective: Follow Tolfdir

In the College excavation at Saarthal, I've been asked to assist Arniel Gane with his work uncovering the ruins.

  • Objective: Find Arniel Gane

I've been asked to assist Arniel Gane in his work at the excavation in Saarthal by collecting enchanted objects scattered around the ruins.

  • Objective: Search for magical artifacts

While helping in the excavation in Saarthal by gathering enchanted items, I somehow triggered some sort of trap. It has revealed an unexplored section of the ruins, and Tolfdir would like me to follow him further in.

While exploring the excavation in Saarthal, I somehow triggered some sort of trap. It has revealed an unexplored section of the ruins, and Tolfdir would like me to follow him further in.

While following Tolfdir through an unexplored section of Saarthal, a vision from the Psijic Order has suggested that something has been set in motion by the exploration of Saarthal. Tolfdir should be warned.

  • Objective: Tell Tolfdir about the vision

While in an unexplored area of Saarthal, I received a vision from someone in the Psijic Order saying there's something dangerous in Saarthal. Despite this, Tolfdir wishes to forge ahead and has asked that I follow him.

  • Objective: Follow Tolfdir

During an expedition to Saarthal, I uncovered a new section of the ruins, and was warned by a vision from someone in the Psijic Order of danger within. Despite this, Tolfdir and I have explored further and found a strange orb buried deep within Saarthal. Tolfdir has asked that I take news of the discovery to the Arch-Mage.

  • Objective: Talk to the Arch-Mage

I've delivered word to the Arch-Mage that something interesting was found deep within Saarthal.

  • Quest complete


  • After completing the quest, Hold Guards will comment on how "Saarthal is a place for Nord dead, not the mages' weird experiments."


This section contains bugs related to Under 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.

Start a Discussion Discussions about Under Saarthal

  • Ok, how did Tolfdir get the eye to the collage?

    4 messages
    • Some form of teleportation seems logical. But no power in Skyrim suggests that such a thing is possible, at least, not without mods ;D Edit: ...
    • Defienitely teleportation, its the only way, also at the end of the questline the psyjic monks teleport it away.
  • Hitting the Books Quest Not Starting

    4 messages
    • please notice tough that my method above is a hack and untestetd and could prevent further progression so use it only if all else fails.
    • I have a Xbox 1 and hitting the books won't start even though savros aren gave me the magelight staff what can I do besides restarting...

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