Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Dunmer in Skyrim.

Dunmer in Online.

The Dunmer, more commonly referred to as Dark Elves in the rest of Tamriel, are the dark skinned elves originating from the province of Morrowind.[1] Known to be strong, intelligent, quick, aloof, and reserved, but considered by some to be ill-fated. Dunmer mostly keep to themselves, most Dunmer natives of Morrowind harbor a bitter distrust and disdain for other races, considering themselves superior.[2]

By game[]


Dunmer card art from The Elder Scrolls: Legends.

Main article: Morrowind

The province of Morrowind, formerly known as Resdayn, is located in the northeastern corner of Tamriel. It is composed of two main parts: the mainland and the island of Vvardenfell, which are separated by the Inner Sea.[3] The mainland has always harbored the capital of Morrowind; it being Mournhold (also called Almalexia) for much of its history, but moved to Blacklight in the Fourth Era due to the Argonian invasion that destroyed most of the southern region of Morrowind.[4] The mainland also harbors very different climates and types of vegetation; ranging from swamps and forests to the Deshaan Plains and the Velothi Mountains.[1] The island of Vvardenfell, on the other hand, is generally comprised of ash wastes due to the presence of the Red Mountain, and until the Red Year was largely inhabited by the Ashlander tribes, and members of the Tribunal Temple and three of Morrowind's five Great Houses: Hlaalu, Redoran and Telvanni.[5]

In the Third Era the Tribunal's representatives, the Temple, were the major political force in Morrowind, with the five Great Houses (Dres, Hlaalu, Indoril, Redoran and Telvanni) coming right after. After the events of the Nerevarine and Red Year the Tribunal has been killed and overthrown,[6] although the Temple still has a lot of influence over Morrowind's affairs, having reverted to worship of the Daedric Princes Mephala, Boethiah and Azura.[7] Until the end of the Third Era Morrowind was nominally ruled by King Hlaalu Helseth from the city of Mournhold,[6] with real governance in the hands of the Grand Council.[8] however, given the destruction of Mournhold in the Red Year and House Hlaalu's fall from political favor,[9] it is not likely that this is still the case.

Its cities (many of which are almost completely destroyed following the eruption of Red Mountain in 4E 5) include: Vivec, Mournhold, Balmora, Sadrith Mora, Ald'ruhn, Blacklight, Necrom, Narsis, Tear, Gnisis, and Port Telvannis.


Most Dunmer have red, glowing eyes with skin tones varying from somewhat greenish and the more common gray to the occasional light blue. They are known to be strong, intelligent, and quick, however, they are also said to be ill favored by fate[2]. Both male and female Dunmer have a height similar to most of the human races. This means that they are generally taller than their Bosmer cousins and shorter than the Altmer.

The current form the Dunmer take was changed from that of the Chimer by Azura, as a curse for the actions of the Tribunal in either using Kagrenac's Tools, or murdering Nerevar.[10][11] The Chimer were very similar in appearance to the Altmer, having golden skin.[source?]

Maramal's conversation with Dinya Balu in the Temple of Mara demonstrates that Redguards and Dunmer are cross-fertile.


The Dunmer were once the Chimer (Changed Folk, or Changed Ones), who were several clans of mer who Boethiah convinced to abandon the customs and laws of the Summerset Isles, and follow the prophet Veloth in a great exodus to Resdayn.[12][13] At the time of exodus the exiles were also known as the Velothi. The term can be used in a general sense for the Dunmer as well, though after the exodus it generally carried a specific meaning referring to those who maintain the original nomadic lifestyle of Veloth's followers, rather than that of the settled Great Houses.[14]

The exiles settled in Resdayn and flourished, developing what is now known as Velothi High Culture, based on worship of the three Good Daedra and respect for the House of Troubles and the new customs. The ruins of Dunmer Strongholds that dot Morrowind are attributed to this period.[15] On their arrival, they found the Dwemer already settled there, and much of the early history of Resdayn is of Chimer-Dwemer conflict.[6]

Disunity allowed the Nords to conquer Morrowind and rule for many years until fighting of their own in an event known as the War of Succession allowed the Chimer and Dwemer, led by Indoril Nerevar and Dumac Dwarfking, to form an alliance against the Nords, and oust the occupiers, creating the First Council.[6][11]

Azura's curse and the Chimer's transformation[]

War ultimately erupted between the Dwemer and the Chimer, over religious differences that had their root in the Dwemer's use of the Heart of Lorkhan.[8][11] This culminated in the Battle of Red Mountain, which resulted in the disappearance of the Dwemer and the annihilation of their House Dagoth allies.[8] Nerevar dies soon after the battle, either from wounds sustained in the battle,[16] or was murdered by the Tribunal, three of his closest advisors.[11]

The Tribunal's actions, either in using the tools to become gods,[10] or in murdering Nerevar, caused Azura to curse the Tribunal and the Chimer people, turning their skin to ash and their eyes red, making them the Dunmer.[11]

Red Year[]

Main article: Red Year

After the fall of Baar Dau and subsequent eruption of Red Mountain destroyed much of Morrowind,[17][18] many Dunmer fled to Skyrim as refugees. Many eventually settled on the island of Solstheim, which was given to them by the High King of Skyrim at the time.[19] Many more fled to Windhelm, the seat of the Stormcloaks resistance against the Empire of Tamriel. They live there in the Gray Quarter.[20]

Before the cataclysm that lead to the mass exodus of Dunmer, several of the faithful of Azura received visions of the eruption of Red Mountain. Setting out for Winterhold, these Dunmer built the Shrine of Azura in Skyrim. The only remaining member of this group is Aranea Ienith.[21] In the months after the cataclysm, many Dunmer started to return home to rebuild,[18] only to be met by an invading force of Argonians.[22]


Dunmer architecture as it is seen in The Elder Scrolls Online.

There are two major cultural groups among the Dunmer: the Great Houses, and the Ashlanders.

Great Houses[]

Main article: Great Houses

The Great Houses have their origins in ancient Velothi tribes, and function effectively as political parties within the Morrowind polity,[23] as well as controlling much of the trade and local administration in the province.[1][6]

Representatives from each of the Great Houses form the Grand Council, which has ruled Morrowind since the late First Era.[24] The Houses themselves also have ruling councils, which enforce House policy and conduct.

Great Houses that have been referenced in the games to date are House Dagoth, House Dres, House Hlaalu, House Indoril, House Redoran, House Sadras and House Telvanni. All but House Dagoth and House Sadras had a stake in Morrowind's governance for most of its history. House Dagoth was destroyed following the events at the Battle of Red Mountain,[24] while House Sadras replaced House Hlaalu following the Red Year.[25] During the time of Resdayn in the First Era, the Dwemer were also accorded the status of a House, referred to as "House Dwemer."[24]


Main article: Ashlander

Ashlanders claim to be the direct descendants of the Aldmeri peoples who followed the prophet Veloth into the lands now called Morrowind.[26] They live in camps of small, mobile huts, herding guar, and hunting wildlife for meat and hides. Ashlanders claim it is their right to raid settlements and other tribes for plunder and slaves. The Ashlanders worship their ancestors and are led by their Ashkhan, or warchiefs, and are counseled by the arcane wisdom and prophecies of their wise women.[27]

The Ashlander culture is an anachronistic survival of the ancestor worshiping tribal culture from which the Great Houses emerged. They see the worship of living Dunmer, the practice of the Tribunal Temple, as an abomination.[28] The Nerevarine Cult can be seen as such an ancestor cult.


Ashlander worship[]

The ancient Velothi acknowledged Boethiah, Mephala and Azura as their primary figures of worship, with ancestor worship also a prominent feature.[29][28] Sheogorath, Mehrunes Dagon, Malacath and Molag Bal are acknowledged as the "House of Troubles," testing figures to not be worshipped but dealt with caution.[29] Following the Tribunal's apotheosis, the Great House Dunmer began to worship the Tribunal, with only House Dres openly still worshiping the Daedra.[30]

However, the Ashlanders remained worshipers of the Daedric Lords Boethiah, Mephala, and Azura; this has caused many conflicts between the Temple and the Ashlanders. Another core facet of their belief system is the prophecy involving the Nerevarine, that is meant to save the native Dunmer from outlanders.[28]

Following the fall of the Tribunal and the establishment of the New Temple, Daedra worship was restored among the House Dunmer, and Ashlanders regarded as guardians of the "true way."[7]

The Temple[]

Tribunal period[]

Main article: Tribunal Temple

The Tribunal Temple was dedicated to the worship of the three god-kings of Morrowind known as the Tribunal. The Tribunal is composed of the goddess Almalexia, the god-poet Vivec, and Sotha Sil. It was the dominant religion in the province of Morrowind, until after the Red Year.[7]

According to the temple, the three Daedra that recognized the divinity of the Tribunal were Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. These three Daedra are known as the "Anticipations" because they share the same aspects and spheres as each member of the Tribunal. Each Daedra is an anticipation for each of the Tribune; Azura is the anticipation of Sotha Sil, Boethiah is the anticipation of Almalexia, and Mephala is the anticipation of Vivec.[31] The House of Troubles did not acknowledge the divinity of the Tribunal, and therefore continued in their role as testing figures and tricksters, and their worship was forbidden by the Temple.[32]

As well as worship of the Tribunal and veneration of the Anticipations, the Temple encouraged a pantheon of saints whose example should be followed in order to live a virtuous life.[33]

The New Temple[]

After the events of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Sotha Sil and Almalexia were killed, and Vivec disappeared.[6] This caused a crisis of faith among the Dunmer people, and the Dissident Priests, formerly persecuted, rose to control the Temple. Ultimately, the Temple went back to worshiping the Daedric Lords Boethiah, Mephala, and Azura, styled as "the Reclamations," as they reclaimed their proper place of worship. Almalexia, Sotha Sil and Vivec were relegated to the status of saints within the new pantheon.[7]


Main article: Dunmeri

Dunmeri is the common language of the Dunmer. It is descended from Aldmeri, the language of the first elves, and written using the Daedric alphabet.[source?]

Notable Dunmer[]