Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Northwatch Keep is a partially-ruined fortress where the Thalmor are keeping Thorald Gray-Mane prisoner. In the Dawnguard DLC, the Icewater Jetty is located to the northwest of the keep.


The road to Volskygge (south of Northwatch Keep) leads to a seemingly dead end; however, there is an obscure path down the cliff, but it is easy to miss and will still require the Dragonborn to swim across an inlet; so the best route to get to Northwatch Keep is by following the shore from either the west or east. If traveling by means of the path, the Illusion spell Clairvoyance is helpful.


Upon arrival, the Dragonborn is greeted outside by a Thalmor soldier. He will tell the Dragonborn that they cannot enter the fort and that if they attempt to do so they will be met with violence. The Dragonborn cannot enter no matter who was sided with in the civil war and what rank they are. The only way for one to gain access to the keep is by force or the use of console commands.

The other prisoners can be released by picking Master locks, or flipping the levers in the room. However once freed, they just stand there. If their cell doors are open and a Northwatch guard attacks the Dragonborn then the prisoners will run out and help fight the guard. However, they will simply walk back to their cells after the guards have been defeated. Attempts to speak with them end with rude generic replies.


Missing in Action[]

Fralia and Avulstein Gray-Mane ask the Dragonborn to rescue Thorald Gray-Mane. The Dragonborn can choose to either rescue Thorald alone or with the help of Avulstein, Geirlund, and Vidrald.


Notable items[]



  • If one retreats far enough back after attacking the guards, they will cease to be hostile.
  • After clearing the keep in the quest "Missing in Action," Hold Guards will comment about the Thalmor having been "taken down a notch." The guards will also comment, "I heard you gave the Thalmor a black eye. You really know how to pick your enemies, don't you?"
  • The guards will not attack those in Beast Form. However, once inside, Thorald will attack anyone in Beast Form. For this reason, it is best to wait it out and revert to normal before making the final assault on the prison cell.
  • After completing "Missing In Action," Vidrald and Geirlund may be found in the courtyard.
  • If one visits Northwatch Keep before the quest "Missing in Action" is acquired, then Thorald Gray-Mane will not be in the prison where the Dragonborn can find him in the quest.
  • If the Civil War questline has been completed while siding with the Stormcloaks, the Thalmor seem to use this as a hidden retreat within Skyrim. They will prevent the Dragonborn from entering or even asking about Northwatch, claiming it to be "privileged information."
  • Once cleared of Thalmor, they do not respawn after a certain amount of time has passed; the area will remain cleared out.
  • Although the Thalmor have an intense dislike for the local Nords, within the keep there are copious bottles of Nord mead.
  • A key to the keep may be pickpocketed from the Orc shaman, Atub, at Largashbur.


This section contains bugs related to Northwatch Keep. 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  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , 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   If the Dragonborn goes with Thorald's brother to the keep, they do not seem to recognize each other and continue on as if one another is not there.
  •  360   If the prisoners are killed, they may disappear through the floor.