Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

For other uses, see Understone Keep.

The Understone Keep is the palace in which Jarl Igmund resides, in the city of Markarth in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.


Located high above the city of Markarth, Understone Keep is a gigantic Dwarven structure, now used as the city’s keep.

Much like the city itself, the keep is built upon the ruins of an ancient Dwemer city of Nchuand-Zel; relics of their machinery and automatons can be seen throughout.

The Castle Wizard, Calcelmo, has recently uncovered additional chambers. Both he and his nephew Aicantar, can be found here, leading an excavation effort of the ruins. The sheer size of the structure, and ability to be well guarded, negates some of the instability the location has recently suffered from.


Entrance to the Mournful Throne[]

The first time the keep is entered via the main doors, Thongvor Silver-Blood is having a heated discussion with Brother Verulus about the worship of the outlawed deity, Talos. At this huge intersection of stone and fire, head left to Nchuand-Zel’s entrance, or right to the Dwemer Museum or forward to meet the Jarl, who is guarded by both Markarth guards and Thalmor soldiers. Jarl Igmund sits on the Mournful Throne, usually with his Steward and Housecarl by him.
Outside, on the upper top of the stairs where Ondolemar and his guards like to stride about, are two stone tables. The one to the right (northwest) houses an Alteration skill book, Daughter of the Niben.


To the left (south) of the throne room are the kitchens. The two hounds around here are large but friendly. Inside, Voada, Rondach, and the short-tempered Anton Virane may be found. As would be expected, there is a large amount of food in here.

Jarl's Chamber[]

Igmund rests here, behind the large golden door to the left (southeast) of the throne room. If one is going to sift through his personal belongings, remember to try the ones on the stone shelf facing the subterranean river that dominates the rear of the chamber. The Conjuration skill book, The Warrior's Charge can be found here.

Understone Forge[]

This is located to the right (north) of the throne room. Moth gro-Bagol works here, while his sister Ghorza tends to the blacksmith forge outside. A blacksmith forge, grindstone, tanning rack, and workbench are available here.


Being in this area counts as trespassing. To the right (northwest) are bedrooms for the more important members of the Jarl’s counsel. Faleen’s room is to the right, with the large dinner table, a Key to Markarth Keep that opens the two other nearby doors, and the Jarl’s Quarters. Raerek houses the steward, a key, and his secret Talos-loving reading materials. Up the stairs is a third room leading to the Imperial War Room, where Legate Emmanuel Admand is overseeing the Civil War in this territory.

Markarth Wizard's Quarters[]

Unless approval has been received from Calcelmo, being in the following areas is also considered trespassing. Unless the Thieves Guild quest "Hard Answers" is active, the laboratory and tower are inaccessible.

Dwemer Museum[]

The Dwemer Museum showcases Calcelmo's collection of artifacts recovered from ruins across Skyrim. Only three guards patrol this area, keeping watch for intruders. This space is normally off-limits—the guards will aggressively arrest any trespassers here—but Calcelmo's permission to visit the museum can be attained in any number of ways; see the Thieves Guild quest page "Hard Answers" for details. The museum has the finest collection of Dwarven artifacts (weapons, armor, items, and books) in the entirety of Skyrim and the highest concentration of locked containers in any area of the game. There is even a small selection of Falmer items. To the south is an apprentice-locked gate leading to a small workshop with an Unusual Gem. To the northwest is a locked gate to a two-level storage room. Up the steps to the west is the laboratory door.

Calcelmo's Laboratory[]

This area is the main living and research quarters for Calcelmo and Aicantar, although they typically spend most of their time in the Keep, closer to the Nchuand-Zel Entrance. Most of this area is locked unless the Thieves Guild quest "Hard Answers" is ongoing.

Markarth Wizard's Balcony[]

The great balcony atop the keep connects Calcelmo’s laboratory to his tower, a separate structure off the main body of the Keep. There is a clear view of the city from here. One section of the balcony wall has broken away, exposing a path around the cliffside that ends in a waterfall, which can be reached by a jump.

Calcelmo's Tower[]

The tower has a lower-level entry hall, an upper-level office, and a massive stone relic containing a text in Dwemer and Falmer on the same granite slab. This stone is the key to Calcelmo’s current research, a secret he jealously protects.


Notable items[]

  • Bravil: Daughter of the Niben (Alteration)
  • The Warrior's Charge (Conjuration)
  • Assorted Dwemer metal pieces near the Nchuand-Zel Excavation Site entrance where Calcelmo is located. These pieces respawn after a few days.
  • Two "unlimited chests" that refill with items, at least one magical, inside the shadowy corners of Jarl Igmund's throne room down stage left and right. Some of the items within the chests will be labeled as stolen.
  • Outside of the Jarl's bedroom is a small stream. Following that downstream will lead to a chest and a few ingots inside a locked case.

Notable inhabitants[]



  • Once The Reach has been claimed by the Stormcloaks, Kottir Red-Shoal, the local commander of the Stormcloaks, will move into one of the rooms in Understone Keep. Thalmor soldiers also inhabit this room, and they never clash. Attacking the Thalmor agents will cause Kottir to fight for them.
  • According to the Skyrim Map, this is the furthest west location in all of Skyrim.
  • Despite being a keep, the music that plays inside is dungeon music instead of city music.



This section contains bugs related to Understone Keep (Skyrim). 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.
  • If "Hard Answers" has already been completed, the quest may be received again by entering the Dwemer Museum.
  • Fast Traveling directly to Understone Keep can sometimes cause a Markarth guard to randomly fling up into the air and fall to his death. This can also happen when exiting Understone Keep normally.