Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Detect Dead is an Expert-level Alteration spell in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


Detect Dead detects the undead, corpses and reanimated bodies in a similar fashion to the Detect Life spell. The spell creates a mist that travels through walls and surrounds undead.


  • Detect Undead, like Draugr in caves and mines.
  • Spot hostile corpses before they animate.
  • Search for dead enemies that have not been looted.
  • Search for dead townspeople after a dragon or vampire (only in Dawnguard) attack: if there are any, one can reload the game.

Spell tome[]



  • Weight: 1 WeightIcon
  • Value: 600 Gold
  • See Spell Tome for a complete table of spell tomes, their descriptions, and their values.



  • The Spell Tome lists the spell as "Detect Undead," but in the magic inventory, it is listed as "Detect Dead."
  • This spell can be very useful for finding bodies to loot after combat. It will not, however, work for remains that are not actually bodies, such as Automatons, ash piles, bird corpses, Dragon Priest husks, dragon skeletons, ice piles, and daedra.
  • This spell can also be very useful for speed-leveling Alteration, or speed-leveling in general. First, equip gear with a total of 100% or more Fortify Alteration enchantments (to reduce the spell's magicka cost to zero). Enter a place with a few undead to detect, such as Whiterun's Hall of the Dead (three skeletons, who do not wander much). Ready the Detect Dead spell in both hands, and tap down the cast buttons, and wait.