Containers are objects capable of storing other objects. Containers are found throughout Skyrim and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The storage capacity of a container is not dependent upon its size or shape and it can store nearly an unlimited number of items. However, the items initially found inside most containers are determined by the type of container.
Most containers in the game are subject to reset, that is, they clear out all the contents after a certain period of time and are reset to their initial state. Most containers reset after about a week of game time, however, examining the contents of the container causes the countdown to start over. A container could be made to never reset simply by opening it once every 5–6 days or so. Any items left in a container that has reset are lost forever.
Note: Containers marked with a * can only have items placed on or in them with a Physics Carry.
Barrels can be found almost everywhere. They typically contain 1–5 food items or alchemy ingredients. A variant of the standard barrel are ones that contain alcoholic beverages, such as the Black-Briar Mead. Fish barrels, another unique variant, can be found in the Riften Fishery. Some barrels are called Thief Caches, used by the Thieves Guild to hide weapons, lockpicks and other things their fellow thieves would need. Mead Barrels can be found in Cragslane Cavern and on Solstheim in the Dragonborn add-on. They have the same texture as a normal barrel and can be interacted with the same way. The only difference is that they have a bottle of Nord mead inside them.
Birds' Nests can be found in many different locations all across Skyrim. They are usually found between large rocks and trees, and aren't usually seen out in the open. Some may be found in cities behind corners of buildings or on the edge of the town wall. Whiterun is one example of a town containing a nest. Occasionally, nests can be found indoors—for example, there are two inside Dustman's Cairn, and one can be found on top of your homestead in the Hearthfire expansion.
Birds' Nests can contain:
Usually the largest storage containers found and they normally contain items of higher value than other containers. Chests can vary in appearance depending on their location. As chests are the "best" containers available, the term "chest" is often used for any storage container found within a dungeon. Chests may be locked or trapped, but never both. The one exception is the locked and trapped chest inside Pinewatch, in the room with the Unusual Gem.
All chests have a generally rectangular box shape. The exception to this are Falmer chests constructed out of chaurus chitin and these have a distinct appearance but are still recognizable as a chest.
A Legend of Zelda style Chest appears only by using the Amiibo on the Nintendo Switch edition.
These are found in almost all houses. They typically contain clothing items, charcoal, rolls of paper, tankards, and, in some cases, gold.
Some dead bodies (mostly encountered in crypts and catacombs), only act as containers. A varying amount of gold can be found on them when searched. However, if you see a resting Draugr carrying a weapon, expect a fight with it. A list of such containers are:
- Desiccated Corpse – Found in the dens of frostbite spiders
- Desecrated Corpse – Only in Kilkreath Ruins and the Throat of the World
Not a full container per se, but can hold weapons. Items are placed into them (See below) and the glass case can be closed. They are typically found in some purchasable properties or Jarls' residences. Objects placed inside display cases by the player can sometimes spawn outside of them, if the area is re-loaded afterwards. This is similar to how items placed by the player on tables, seats or in bowls can be found on the floor as though leaping out of their containers upon re-entering a house. If using PSVR, players can reach inside the case without unlocking it, allowing for them to grab the item without opening the case.
To place an item in a display case:
- Open the display case.
- Drop the item.
- Look at the item, and hold down the select/activate button. The item will now float in front of your camera. (You can release the activate button)
- Move the item to the display case you want to store it in. Position it to your liking.
- Press the activate button again.
- Close the display case.
These are found in almost all houses. They typically contain clothing items.
End Table *
These are found in almost all houses. They typically contain items of clothing, or sometimes food or gold.
These are found nearly everywhere. They typically contain 1–5 food items or ingredients.
Quite rare, but can typically be found in upper-class housing, such as Proudspire Manor. Also available during the Dark Brotherhood quest to slay the Emperor. Safes can be created in a homestead with the Hearthfire add-on.
Strongboxes are used primarily for Thieves Guild missions. With the various add-ons they can also serve as:
- Dawnguard caches in The Elder Scrolls V: Dawnguard
- Furniture items in homesteads in The Elder Scrolls V: Hearthfire.
- East Empire Company Strongboxes in The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn.
Urn or Burial Urn
List of safe containers
The following containers will never reset, thus they are permanently safe to store items.
- All chests and containers inside purchasable houses.
- All containers in the Abandoned House in Markarth.
- The chest in Delphine's secret room inside the Sleeping Giant Inn.
- The end table and wardrobe inside the ruined Helgen Inn.
- The wardrobe in Riverside Shack.
- The end table located in the Alchemist's Shack.
- The Apothecary's Satchel located in the cellar of Anise's Cabin (and, by extension, the remaining containers within the house).
- All the containers located within Drelas' Cottage.
- The Arch-Mage's Quarters after completing the College of Winterhold questline.
- The chest at the entrance of Sky Haven Temple.
- The metallic chest at the top of Valtheim Towers.
- The ice runner chest in Broken Oar Grotto after the quest.
- The chest inside Idgrod the Younger's room, in Highmoon Hall, Morthal.
- All East Empire Company Strongboxes.DR
- Severin Manor, if one has completed Served Cold.DR
- All "wardrobes" and "bookcases" within the Volkihar Keep are safe for storage. Unless otherwise noted, the remaining containers respawn after ten days along with the rest of the keep.DG
- All the containers within plots on which homesteads are constructed.HF
- The Chest in Weylin's Room after purchasing it.
- The chest in front of High Hrothgar, where Klimmek's Supplies are to be placed for his miscellaneous quest.
All merchants in Skyrim have a corresponding chest that contains their wares. This chest is a physical item much like a regular chest, however it is typically hidden (often under the floor) and inaccessible in the game world. This is to prevent players from abusing the bartering game mechanic.
Items within the chest can only be viewed or obtained via the barter menus and the chest will refresh its items every two days.
Accessible merchant chests
In Dawnstar, to the north of Iron-Breaker Mine there is an accessible merchant chest underneath a small rock overhang. This chest belongs to Ahkari. Like all merchant chests, this chest should not be accessible, but its position is bugged. The items in this chest can be freely taken without the player being charged with a crime.
Similar to Ahkari's chest, Ma'dran's merchant chest is available for searching. It is located outside of Markarth behind the first stone wall on the right when traveling on foot towards Kolskeggr Mine. The items within can be taken freely with no repercussions, as well.
In the Blue Palace, the court mage's chest is accessible by using items such as plates, bowls or platters to go through the wall in the basement hallway. However, almost all items taken from this chest will be marked as stolen, thus can only be sold to Fences. The only way around this is to complete The Man Who Cried Wolf quest to clear the stolen tag.
Similar to the Blue Palace, there is also one accessible by items (as above) in the Ragged Flagon.
As well, using items mentioned above, Moth gro-Bagol's chest in Understone Keep is accessible. Taking items from this chest may sometimes cause the guards to arrest the player unless done while in stealth mode with high Sneak.
All chests in the Hall of Countenance and Hall of Attainment can be looted using a plate, platter, or bowl. The chests in the Hall of Countenance can be glitched to by going through the wall between the room with the dining table and the main area on the first floor. Furthermore, the chests in the Hall of Attainment can be glitched to from under the stairwell or from the far wall of Tolfdir's room. However, all items will have the stolen tag. Nonetheless, it is an easy way to learn the available spells, as the spell tomes are destroyed after reading.
Do Not Delete
The "Do Not Delete" chest is a scripted placeholder left in-game by developers to represent the total gold-value merchants can hold. This is the box that essentially "allows" an NPC to be a merchant. It does not contain anything, the only reason it exists is to allow the merchants to sell their items.
It isn't known why it is a chest, rather than a line of code within the game's programming. These are only deletable on PC. If deleted, most merchants will cease to function altogether, although it may sometimes "break" their shop menu, meaning it can be opened, but it does not work.
Do Not Delete chests function in a manner that is to the paintbrushes of Oblivion.