College of Winterhold
It was the capital city of the Seventh Empire of the Nords, which was established by Ysgramor. It was one of the first cities established by men in Tamriel. The Snow Elves destroyed this city in what is now known as the Night of Tears, and only Ysgramor and his two sons escaped during the carnage.
Later, the destruction of this city would be avenged when Ysgramor returned with his famed warriors, the Five Hundred Companions.  The famed enchanter known as Ahzidal heard of the arrival of Ysgramor and the Five Hundred, he went to them, and offered his services to him and his army. With steel imbued with powerful enchantments, Ysgramor, the Five Hundred Companions and Ahzidal began to hunt down the remaining Snow Elves across Skyrim and Solstheim, and a war would begin between the two races. The Five Hundred Companions eventually won, with the vast majority of the Snow Elves dying on the line of duty. Archaeologist Floronius discovered that the Snow Elves had an intricate understanding of the city's layout before launching their assault. The battle which destroyed Saarthal may have been over "The Eye of Magnus," which the Snow Elves held dear to their culture.
The Dragonborn visits this location with three other mage-apprentices after joining The College of Winterhold. First, they are instructed to help a fellow College of Winterhold scholar, Arniel Gane, to retrieve 3-4 enchanted artifacts (items and count vary with level and school of magic chosen) from various locations in the ruins.
Doing so, the Saarthal Amulet is discovered. When the amulet is worn and a spell is cast towards the door it opens to a burial chamber. Along with Tolfdir, the Dragonborn enters the room where they see a vision of Nerien, a member of Psijic Order. If the location is visited before "Under Saarthal", the door to the inner rooms remains locked.
Nerein warns that the The Eye of Magnus, an artifact found within must be obtained and protected by the College of Winterhold, because interested parties want to exploit its power. The Dragonborn and Tolfdir discover the device, and slay the Draugr protecting it. Afterwards, the Dragonborn rushes back to the college to warn Arch-Mage Savos Aren of the discovery.
Solving the puzzle
The puzzle with the rotating pillars is solved by discovering the animal symbol behind each pillar. This can be done by carefully looking at the wall while using a torch or casting Magelight or the Candlelight spell. However, if the Dragonborn has none of these, they will have to take great care not to get stuck behind a pillar or use a spell like flames (It gives off light). Both Spells can be bought from Tolfdir.
(The rotating pillars will switch some times when they do not activate them.) Starting from the room furthest from the lever, while facing the lever set the left pillar to bird and the right pillar to whale. For the second set of pillars, set the left pillar to snake and the right pillar to bird. For the last set of pillars, set the left pillar to whale and the right pillar to bird.
After stealing his father's amulet, Jyrik was entombed in Saarthal, bound by a Writ of Sealing. The Dragonborn destroys Jyrik and recovers his fragment of the amulet needed to reconstruct the original.
- One silver ore vein outside the entrance along the walkway.
- Two iron ore veins.
- One gold ore vein.
- Two quicksilver ores.
- One refined malachite in a bucket.
- Two orichalcum ingots in a bucket.
- Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson on the altar in front of the Eye of Magnus.
- Easy to miss apothecary's satchel containing random ingredients, under the central podium in the room where the Psijic vision occurs and the Draugr first appear.
- Ice Form Word Wall. (One word).
- Ruby amidst the rubble in the room with the first Deathlord.
- To the northwest of Saarthal, a dead, frozen Mammoth sticking out of a wall of ice can be found. Spears of Dwarven make are lodged in its body. Dwarven arrows can also be found. The Mammoth must have fallen down into a glacier and frozen solid after being killed by the ancient Dwarves, thousands of years ago.
This section contains bugs related to Saarthal. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:
- Followers may disappear upon entering the ruin.
- Player may not be able to rotate the pillars when trying to solve the puzzle. If this is the matter either reload the game to an earlier save, or just simply walk back and re-enter the area.
- The door may not open even when the pillars are in the correct position. Reload to a point prior to entering that area and replay to fix.
- It is possible to retrieve the amulet without retrieving any of the other artifacts.
- Players may not be able to enter because Tolfdir will not show up during the quest Under Saarthal.