Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

For other uses, see Winterhold.
"This bleak, snow-blown hold in the northeast corner of Skyrim is utterly inhospitable. Perhaps the mages at the College of Winterhold chose to make their home there because they knew they would be left largely alone."

Winterhold or the Winterhold is a region located deep within the frozen north of Skyrim, located in the northeasternmost portion of Skyrim, it is one of the nine holds that make up the entire province. Winterhold is the epitome of Skyrim, perfectly representing the frozen wasteland that Skyrim has been personified by the other nations. Winterhold was where the First Empire of Nords originated, from leaving Atmora in the far north.

By game[]



Western Winterhold[]

The Frostflow Lighthouse watches over Winterhold and the Sea of Ghosts.

The reaches of Western Winterhold are barren, virtually void of living beings, only the dying wolf packs and the demented Falmer Elves live in this frozen wasteland. This region has a massive mountain range that separates this area with the Pale in the west, on the other side of the mountain. There is a barren dirt road leading into the Dwarven ruins of the Pale and the lightly-forested area of Western Winterhold. The only settlement is the Frostflow Lighthouse, located on one of the highest peaks in Western Winterhold. There are other stone structures in the general area, albeit abandoned because of the cold area, with the nearest settlement being Dunstad, which is far as it is.

Central Winterhold[]

The Excavation Site of Saarthal circa 4E 201.

Central Winterhold is where the once grand-city of Saarthal was located, along with other Ancient Nordic structures, like the Tomb of Ysgramor and Ironbind Barrow. These original settlements were buried by the unforgiving snowstorms of Winterhold with Saarthal for example being buried deep in the snow for years. Mount Anthor, in the south is where many pilgrims from the eastern province of Morrowind, to see the beautiful Shrine of Azura. It was built by the immigrants from Morrowind who left the province due to the disastrous event known as the Red Year. Mount Anthor was also the site of a great battle that led to the end of the War of Succession.

Eastern Winterhold[]

Shipwrecks are common in the Sea of Ghosts and the Winterhold Glaciers.

The eastern portion of Winterhold consists of the northeastern Skyrim coast and the many uninhabited islands throughout that part of the Sea of Ghosts. Eastern Winterhold is more easily distinguished from the rest of Winterhold, due to the mountain range that starts from the northeastern Lake Yorgrim to northwestern Winterhold City. This area of Winterhold is more populated when compared to the rest of the region. The city of Winterhold, as well as the College of Winterhold, are located in the northernmost point of the mainland, overlooking the Sea of Ghosts. Southwards is the Whistling Mine, an isolated mine with several miners is located in between Winterhold City and the Yorgrim Crossroads. The Winterhold Glaciers is home to several shipwrecks that perish in between cities.


Blackreach is a large extensive cave that goes as far as Wrothgar.

The area known as Blackreach is a large vast cave, which houses ancient settlements dating back to the Merethic Era and the time of Dwemer. The gates to Blackreach are virtually impossible to find; records indicate that there are three dwarven cities throughout the Old Holds that have tunnels leading into Blackreach. But these towns are said to be riddled with Dwarven Animunculi and the demented Falmer. According to mage groups in Winterhold, there is an Elder Scroll located somewhere in Blackreach, one that the Moth Priests of Cyrodiil have yet to find. Blackreach is the home to several creatures including Chauruses, Giants, and even rare plants like the mythical Crimson Nirnroot.



Ice Wolves are common throughout the frozen north of Skyrim and Wrothgaria.

Wolves are some of the most common predators of Tamriel and are at their most dangerous in the frozen wastelands of Winterhold. Wolves travel in packs and tend to live in caves or ancient ruins found throughout the area. Because of how rare the life is the region, wolves are desperate scavengers that hunt for anything wandering the region. The Ice Wolves are a much stronger breed of wolves that have more tolerance for the blizzards and icy water, making them the alpha of certain packs. The Ice Wolf has white fur, giving them the environmental advantage for hunting. Wanders must be wary and to stay on the road, rather than exploring off the path. But the road is rather straightforward, from the Pale to the city of Winterhold.

Ice Wraiths[]

The Ice Wraith is a serpentine creature that floats wistfully throughout the air and is extremely dangerous. Ice Wraiths are long and slither through the air, the fangs of a wraith are rather important when it comes to preservation and consumption. Merchants traveling would use the Ice Wraith fangs to preserve the food they carry or use the essence from the fang to gain resistance to the frozen snow. Ice Wraiths are very prominent throughout the Old Holds, specifically in the Pale and the Winterhold region, more so in the latter. Wraiths are commonly found throughout the Sea of Ghosts, including the Serpentstone Isle, north of Winterhold City. The best way to combat them is to use Fiery Destruction Magic, which is obvious considering their name. They can dash into the air and kill a passerby instantly.

Dwarven Animunculi[]

Dwarven Centurions are found deep within the ruins and Blackreach.

The Dwemer had strongholds found throughout the northern provinces of Tamriel, ranging from the ruins of Bthzark in Stros M'Kai to the Galom Daeus in Vvardenfell and Winterhold was no exception. The ruins of Alftand and Mzinchaleft were just examples of the many Dwarven strongholds that existed in Skyrim. These ruins hold the secrets of the Dwarves, and because of this, the ruins are infested with the machinations the Dwemer designed to keep intruders out. The Dwarven Spider is the basic construction worker of the ruins, they watch over the ruins and repair any broken pipe or leakage found throughout the catacombs. The Spider can produce electricity and spread to other machinations. Once defeated, and if they hold electricity, they dispel a discharge that can severely damage someone. The Dwarven Sphere is the general guardsmen of the ruins, the sphere can move very quickly and come equipped with a Dwarven Crossbow and a Dwarven Sword attached to one of their arms. Perhaps the most deadly animunculi found in the ruins is the Dwarven Centurion, a gigantic robot powered by the searing steam of the ruins. They have doubled the size of the tallest Altmer and can truly pack a wallop. The Centurion can disperse large sprays of steam that can burn the armor off anyone. Their left arm comes equipped with a large axe that can break a wall down with a mighty swing. Best avoid the Dwarven Ruins if you value your life.


The most inhospitable regions in Tamriel hold the most secrets, right under the nose of the common-folk. The Wispmother is one such entity, feared by the denizens of both Winterhold and Morthal. Wispmothers always take the form of a ghostly woman (sometimes appear in Elven form), surrounded by an eerie mist and tethered rags. They occasionally inhabit the inner tunnels of Blackreach and other areas throughout Mount Anthor. Many scholars have different opinions about the Wispmother, members of the Synod claim that Wispmothers are an elemental entity in a similar vein to the Elemental Atronachs or a Spriggan. Another scholar named Sadren Sarethi believed that the Wispmother is a variety of lich-dom, where a mortal becomes an immortal and corrupted version of themselves. Notable liches include Mannimarco and Suturah. Victims of the Wispmother turns into a Wisp, ghastly orbs of light that act similar to a Will-o-the-Wisp found in Cyrodiil. Wisps are always surrounding the Wispmother and are always protecting them when harmed.[1]


The Falmer were the original denizens of Skyrim.

The Falmer was once the original denizens of Skyrim, with ancestors dating back to the Summerset Isles, and by that extent, to the continent of Aldmeris. After the Night of Tears, the Atmorans began a purge against the Falmer, leading to many of them to relocate or resist with little results. The Snow Prince was defeated by the Atmorans at the Battle of the Moesring, located on the island of Solstheim. The ones that had relocated sought help from the Dwemer living in Skyrim and Blackreach. Untrusting towards the Falmer, the Dwemer tricked the Snow Elves into consuming toxic fungi that caused them to grow blind, even affecting their future kin. The modern-day Falmer are corrupted and goblin-esque creatures who live in the ruins of the Dwarven Cities and even Blackreach. Falmer depends on the Chaurus, large grotesque bugs that spit poison and have hardened shells. The Falmer makes weapons, armors, and housing out of the Chaurus, and lucky for them, the Chaurus breed millions of eggs. The only few aspects of Falmeri Culture that remain in modern-day Skyrim are ruins found in West Skyrim and somewhere near the Reach.[2]


The Fungal Anomalies throughout Blackreach and the underground caverns of the Old Holds.

Winterhold is a frozen wasteland with a lack of living organisms, but the underground has more secrets than anyone knows on the surface. But beginning with the surface, the Sea of Ghosts coastline has a wide variety of life, ranging from the many fishes of the Padomaic Ocean and the flora of the coast. The Nirnroot is truly a unique plant, giving off a light hum and a glow that makes it obvious amidst the violent blizzards. The Nirnroot grow mainly in West Skyrim, but a unique type of Nirnroot grows in Blackreach, it is called the Crimson Nirnroot, which is more powerful than the normal Nirnroot. This Nirnroot has been sought after by Alchemists from Skingrad to Lilmoth. At one point, the First Aldmeri Dominion had possession of a sample in their city of Marbruk. Blackreach houses other bizarre flora, ranging from large versions of Glowing Mushrooms and thick vines that envelop around the ruins. These Mushrooms tower over the Dwarven Ruins and emit a powerful glow that brightens up the dark chasms of Blackreach. The area around Mount Anthor grows other plants, albeit sparsely throughout the mountain range. One of the most commonly seen plants are the Snowberries, which are helpful in surviving the winter.


The Jarl's Longhouse of Winterhold has been the Seat of Power for years.

For the longest time, the city of Winterhold has been the capital of Skyrim until the city was obliterated due to the disastrous events called the Great Collapse. During the time of Ysgramor, the capital of Skyrim was the city of Windhelm, alongside the Yorgrim River leading into the Sea of Ghosts. Ever since the time of the Alessian Reforms in the first era, to the times after the Void Nights in the fourth era, Winterhold has always been the capital of Skyrim and the seat of power for the region. Leaders of Winterhold are known as the High King, who for the most part, have been named that title by birthright. Unless the last High King dies with any heirs, a moot is conducted which determines the next High King among the current Jarls of Skyrim. Borgas, was the last High King of the Ysgramor Dynasty and was a loyal ally of the Alessian Empire, the First Empire of Cyrodiil. Borgas would later be killed in Valenwood, and the War of Succession ravaged the province since many Jarls wanted the power of High King. When the Crown of Verity chose Olaf One-Eye to be the High King, the war ended.[3][4]

Winterhold has had influence and interventions from the Empires of Cyrodiil and other groups originating throughout the Old Holds. As mentioned before, Borgas was loyal to the Alessian Empire, which resulted in his demise at the hands of the Wild Hunt. In the late years of the first era, the Winterhold Rebellion had caused the city-state to be divided into two factions, one opposing the ruler. Reman Cyrodiil II became the Emperor of the Second Empire, he had intervened in the dire state of Winterhold and created an agreement to bring it back to its original state. In the third era, Ulfe Gersen was a Baron living in Winterhold at the time and was presumingly the leader of Winterhold. To establish a relationship with Winterhold, Morihatha Septim married Gersen while her brother, Uriel Septim V was ruling over the Empire. There have been two examples where Winterhold has allied with the Old Holds to achieve a common goal. In the second era, Winterhold was a member of the Ebonheart Pact, an alliance with Morrowind and Black Marsh. Representing Skyrim was Jorunn the Skald-King, who originated and ruled from Windhelm. In the fourth era, Winterhold was a member of the Stormcloaks, a rebellious group against the Mede Empire and their allies, the Third Aldmeri Dominion.[5][6]


The Shrine of Azura is one of the largest statues found throughout Skyrim.

Because Skyrim has been staunch supporters of the Empires of Cyrodiil, the main religion that Winterhold has worshipped is the Nine Divines. Unfortunately, it is unknown which Divine that Winterhold had temples dedicated to since there have been no real depictions of Winterhold as a fully-established city. But the Nine Divines is not the only religion worshipped in the Winterhold, with the sudden migration of Dark Elves into Skyrim, many of them had brought their culture and religion not to stray away from their roots. Before the disastrous Red Year, Azura guided her followers out of Vvardenfell and brought them into Skyrim and to that extent, the Winterhold region. In thanks for this foresight, the Dark Elves built a Shrine to Azura on the uppermost peaks of Mount Anthor, and news spread about this site, causing many Elves to migrate towards this monument.[7]

The Ancient Nordic Pantheon was the main religion of Skyrim during the time of Ysgramor and years later. Even after the modern-day Nordic Pantheon became as big as it is today, several groups throughout the province still follow the Ancient pantheon their great ancestors have brought from Atmora, one of these groups is the Ternion Monks who operate out of Eastmarch. The Pantheon worships the animals of the region, animals deriving from the sea and some deriving from land. The Ancient Nords worshiped creatures such as the Whale, or the Dragon, and this is evident upon traversing ruins such as Saarthal or Skuldafn. According to legend, the Whale represents Stuhn of the modern Nordic Pantheon and that the bridge between Sovngarde and the Hall of Valor are made out of the bones of a massive Whale.[8]


Merethic Era[]

Across the Sea of Ghosts; The Tale of Ysgramor[]

Ysgramor led the Atmorans to the province of Skyrim.

"Exactly when the Nords first crossed the ice-choked Sea of Ghosts from Atmora, their original homeland, is uncertain."
Imperial Geographic Society[src]

Civil war has plagued the northernmost continent of Atmora, resulting in many civilians to evacuating the region, to greater prospects in the south. Departing from the city of Jylkurfyk in Southern Atmora, Ysgramor and several thousand Atmorans traveled across the Sea of Ghosts and landed on Hsaarik Head on the Broken Cape of Winterhold. After arriving onto Hsaarik Head, the Atmorans built the city of Saarthal, which is located southwest of modern-day Winterhold city. The immigrants called the new region, Mereth, due to the Snow Elves inhabiting the area. The Atmorans and the Snow Elves live together in harmony as more travelers from Atmora came to Mereth, further establishing Saarthal. When the Atmorans were building Saarthal, they discovered an ancient artifact with tremendous magical abilities. Ysgramor knew that this object would be sought after, and so he had the artifact buried deep within in Saarthal, much to the dismay of the Snow Elves. The events that followed bring about the end of the Snow Elves and usher the Age of Man.[3][9]

The Fall of the Snow Elves; the Night of Tears[]

A Snow Elf wearing traditional Falmeri Regalia in the ruins of a Snow Elven Temple.

"But where the story of the ancient snow elves ends, that of the current-day Falmer begins. For when the snow elf host was shattered on that fateful day, it did not simply disperse - it descended. Into the earth, deep underground."
Ursa Uthrax[src]

This ancient artifact that the Atmorans had hidden away had peaked the interest of the Kingdom of Snow Elves, to the point where they would betray their new brothers in the cold. The Night of Tears is an event that would go down in history as the beginning of the Snow Elves' demise and ultimate extinction. The Sack of Saarthal ended with the deaths of several thousand Atmorans and it caused the remaining defense under Ysgramor to return to Atmora, to rally a counterattack. Ysgramor looked over at his wonderous city of Saarthal, burning to the ground by the dastardly Snow Elves, it was said that he cried tears of pure of Ebony, which was fashioned into the legendary axe known as Wuuthrad. The journey back to Skyrim was known as the Storm of Separation, which caused the death of Yngol, the eldest son of Ysgramor. Saddened by his death, Ysgramor built a tomb located on the Yorgrim Estuary and built the modern-day city of Windhelm afterward.[3][10]

First Era[]

The Reign of Borgas; the War of Succession[]

The Jagged Crown was lost, along with High King Borgas.

"Upon the murder of King Borgas by the Wild Hunt, the Moot's failure to appoint the obvious and capable Jarl Hanse of Winterhold sparked the disastrous Skyrim War of Succession..."
Imperial Geographic Society[src]

Throughout the years, the First Empire of the Nords have expanded their territory beyond the province of Skyrim, to the western point of High Rock, to the Nibenay, and to areas throughout the region of Resdayn. The High King, the leader of Skyrim, reside in the city of Winterhold, which is located northeast of the ruins of Saarthal. High King Vrage the Gifted was the one who paved the way for this great empire and his descendants soon followed. The Ysgramor Dynasty eventually ended with the reign of High King Borgas, who resided in Winterhold. At the same time, the Alessian Empire was prominent in Cyrodiil and the Nords of Skyrim were considered a part of this empire. Borgas was a firm believer in the Alessian Order and the teachings of Marukh. When he realized the province of Valenwood did not follow the Alessian Religion, he created a joint war with the Wood Elves, which resulted in his death. The Bosmer initiated the Wild Hunt, an ancient ritual which devolved the Bosmer into a feral and primitive state of mind, causing them to go berserk on the Nords and Alessians. Borgas would die, and his body was seemingly lost. In reality, Borgas and the Jagged Crown were taken back to Skyrim and buried in the ruins of Korvanjund, on the outskirts of the Pale, near the township of Dunstad Grove.[3][11]

The Tale of Olaf One-Eye; Battle atop of Mount Anthor[]

Numinex's skull perched above the throne of Dragonsreach.

"Using the awesome powers of the Dragon language, Numinex and Olaf engage in an epic shouting duel atop Mount Anthor. So forceful are their words, they are said to shatter the stone and split the sky."
Adonato Leonetti[src]

The death of High King Borgas caused animosity throughout the Holds of Skyrim. Borgas was the last of the Ysgramor Dynasty and had no heirs to inherit the throne. The Moot had failed to recognize Jarl Hanse of Winterhold to be the next High King, resulting in the War of Succession. This conflict caused many of the territories that the Nords had conquered to dwindle down to the modern-day province of Skyrim. The conflict officially ended with the Pact of Chieftains in 1E 420, giving the Moot a more admirable job. It has only been used in similar crises where the High King died without heirs.[3]

As the War of Succession raged on in the province of Skyrim, a powerful Dragon named Numinex has rampaged over the region, burning villages and terrorizing the denizens. Because of the war, Numinex was given free rein since the Jarls were focused on fighting each other, rather than beating a common foe. Jarl Olaf One-Eye of Whiterun decided to take it upon himself to defeat Numinex and traveled to his lair on the highest peak of Mount Anthor. Numinex and Olaf fought each other valiantly, each using the power of the Thu'um to defeat one another. Numinex was finally subdued and taken to Dragonsreach, the seat of power in Whiterun. The people of Whiterun were astonished yet impressed by Olaf's trophy, because of his battle, Olaf was named the High King of Skyrim and ended the War of Succession. But some people doubted Olaf's vigor, one such person was Svaknir, a bard who wrote King Olaf's Verse, a book portraying Olaf as a liar and a deceiver.[12][13]

Chronicles of the Dragonguard; the Winterhold Endeavor[]

Sky Haven Temple, located in the Reach.

"For the next two centuries the Dragonguard protected the Reman Dynasty, defending the Emperors with abilities said to have been learned from the Dragons themselves, which persisted in Akavir far longer than they did in Tamriel."

During the reign of Emperor Kastav of the Reman Empire, the Kastavian Empire has had problems with the cities of Skyrim, specifically with the city of Winterhold and the Hold of Winterhold. The Dragonguard of Sky Haven Temple have been used by the Emperor to enforce his ideas into the denizens of Winterhold, putting the faction in a difficult position. In 1E 2804, the Winterhold Rebellion had occurred and despite the Dragonguard's sworn oath to protect the people of Skyrim, were not given to suppress the rebellion. What made matters worse was when the Emperor cut supplies to the Dragonguard, but lucky for the group, they had an arrangement with the local Reachmen, giving them sufficient resources.[14]

In 1E 2805, the Dragonguard had denied an Akaviri man named Kalien a spot in the Dragonguard, which made him furious. In retaliation, Kalien sacked the temple and traveled to the city of Winterhold, besieging it with his powerful magic, this event would be known as the Sack of Winterhold, and it severely brought down the trust both the Dragonguard and the Nords had established for years. But when Kastav stepped down as Emperor, Reman Cyrodiil II gave the Dragonguard, a boost in popularity for being the honor guard for the Emperor, during his trip into Skyrim. When Reman traveled to Winterhold, he was able to negotiate a truce with the rebellion; he was able to instate a leader that managed to rule over Winterhold without any bloodshed. Through Reman II's funding, the Temple was rebuilt with a stylish wall known as Alduin's Wall and the Blood Seal of Sky Haven. Reman II would even visit the wall, to bask in its glory.[14][5]

Second Era[]

The Kingdom of Eastern Skyrim[]

The Old Holds became nations under the reign of Queen Freydis.

"Though Freydis, wearing the Crown of Verity, was named High Queen in Windhelm, a partial Moot in Solitude chose Svartr as High King. Thereafter the West Kingdom was ruled by Svartr and his successors, while the East Kingdom was ruled by the heirs to Freydis, who renamed the Crown of Verity in her honor."
Taleon Mythmaker[src]

During the reign of the Akaviri Potentate, the province of Skyrim was under the rule of High King Logrolf was assassinated by an unknown assailant. With Logrolf's passing, many people felt that Queen Freydis of Windhelm should assume the throne and the Crown of Verity did, in fact, choose her as the next heir, but this would come with controversy. Svartr of Solitude claimed that Freydis was an illegitimate heir to the throne and that a Moot should be conducted to determine an actual usurper. The Moot had chosen Jarl Svartr to be the High King, contrary to what the Crown of Verity had chosen. This event caused a divide between the Nords of Skyrim with the denizens of West Skyrim joining Svartr in his Kingdom of Western Skyrim and the citizens of Eastern Skyrim joined Freydis in her Kingdom of Eastern Skyrim. Eastern Skyrim consists of the Old Holds, which includes the region of Winterhold. Winterhold joined the Eastern Kingdom of Skyrim and would do so for several years since the Old Holds and a unique bond.[4]

The Battle of Stonefalls & Ebonheart Pact[]

The Banner of the Ebonheart Pact.

"The Ebonheart Pact has forged an unlikely alliance between the far-flung nations of Morrowind, Skyrim, and Black Marsh, bringing together the Dark Elves, Nords, and free Argonians for their mutual defense. Thanks to the size of its allied nations and the distances involved, the Pact remains relatively free of inner strife and discord."

Several years later, Freydis' descendant, Nurnhilde ruled from the city of Windhelm and had two brothers, Jorunn, and Fildgor, both of which ruled alongside their eldest sister in the Kingdom of Eastern Skyrim. However, the Kamal of Akavir invaded the provinces of eastern Tamriel, first the Telvanni Peninsula, to the rivers of the White River. Windhelm was sacked by the Snow Demons, killing both Nurnhilde and their mother, Mabjaarn Flame-Hair were killed amidst the conflict. Jorunn, arriving from his travels, ventured to Windhelm and defended the city to the best of his ability. In dire need of help, Jorunn travels to the Throat of the World, to the monastery of High Hrothgar, to ask for help in this invasion. The Greybeards conjured Wulfharth out of Ash, to help Jorunn lead the assault on the Kamali. After pushing the army from Riften and Fort Greenwall, the Kamali was cornered in the region of Stonefalls, where he was attacked by the Argonians from the south, and the Dark Elves from the east. The battle became known as the Battle of Stonefalls, and the Snow Demons were ultimately defeated. Out of the conflict came the Ebonheart Pact, a grand alliance consisting of the Nords of Eastern Skyrim, the Dark Elves of Morrowind (except for House Telvanni), and the Argonians of Black Marsh. The Nords of Winterhold were present at the Battle of Stonefalls as well as the Ebonheart Pact foundation. Jorunn the Skald-King would be named the leader of the Pact and used the Great Moot, to settle ties with each of the provinces.[15][16][17]

Third Era[]

Winterhold during the Imperial Simulacrum[]

The City of Winterhold during the Imperial Simulacrum.

"Jagar Tharn fed Uriel's pride, and hiding behind the mask of an out-paced former master counselor, Tharn purchased the complete trust that led finally to Uriel's betrayal and imprisonment in Oblivion and Tharn's secret usurpation of the Imperial throne."
Rufus Hayn[src]

During the Imperial Simulacrum from 3E 389 to 3E 399, the Imperial Battlemage named Jagar Tharn impersonated Emperor Uriel Septim VII and casted both him and Talin Warhaft into the Deadlands, Mehrunes Dagon's plane of Oblivion. Jagar Tharn had a mighty staff called the Staff of Chaos which was the key to releasing Uriel and Warhaft from the Deadlands. To secure his control, he broke the Staff of Chaos into several pieces and hid them across the provinces in Tamriel. Tharn's apprentice, Ria Silmane caught wind of this and planned to tell the Elder Council, however, Tharn killed her with his vile magic. Ria Silmane's spirit sought the aid of a warrior also kept imprisoned by Tharn. Silmane help the warrior escaped and tasked them with finding the pieces of the Staff of Chaos throughout Tamriel. At one point, this warrior traveled to the city of Winterhold during their quest to gather the pieces. The warrior defeat Jagar Tharn at the Imperial Palace and freed both Uriel VII and Talin Warhaft, this young warrior was named the Eternal Champion.[18]

The region of Winterhold was undefined, and many settlements dotted the landscape or at least the general area. Winterhold was located on the northernmost cape of Skyrim, ideally, on the Broken Cape, it was somewhat close to the border. Smaller townships such as Amol, and Dunpar Wall existed in the area. Winterhold was ruled by King Erarne.

Winterhold Renaissance & the Migration from the East[]

The Arcanaeum houses the Ysmir Collective and brought scholars from all over.

"Winterhold, Solitude's ancient rival, has also experienced a renaissance of power and influence. Refugees from Morrowind, far from burdening the eastern city, have brought with them new ideas, enriching her culture and stimulating its old mercantile spirit"
Imperial Geographic Society[src]

During the waning years of the Oblivion Crisis in 3E 433, the city of Winterhold flourished with the Winterhold Renaissance. The Dark Elves of Morrowind migrated across the Velothi Mountains and lived in Winterhold and other parts of the Old Holds. The Dark Elves had fled the province of Morrowind, sometime after the Tribunal had departed from the living plane. With them, they brought their culture and arcane knowledge, further expanding the knowledge of magic to the Winterhold populous. A new collection was added to The Arcanaeum called the Ysmir Collective, which housed books from the destruction that befell the east, that caused the Dunmer to leave Morrowind. Even the Dark Elves of House Telvanni would frequent Winterhold, from places such as Sadrith Mora and Tel Vos. As time went on, there was a disdain interest towards the Dark Elves, causing tension between the Nords and the Dunmer.[19][20]

Fourth Era[]

Main article: Winterhold (Skyrim Hold)

The Great Collapse; The Destruction of Winterhold[]

Winterhold, in its current state, as of 4E 201.

"And now, the storms that have wracked the coast of Skyrim for close to a year have finally broken, but at great cost to us all. This great collapse that has devastated Winterhold was unexpected, I assure you."
Arch-Mage Deneth[src]

With the passing of the Oblivion Crisis, there was a grown distrust with the Mages of Tamriel, even though they were in the forefront against the Daedric Armies of the Deadlands. With the already established hatred in the Dark Elves in Winterhold, the anger towards them had staggered, and racial tensions between the Dunmer and Nords were astronomical. But in 4E 5, the Red Year of Morrowind had left the province in ruins, specifically the sub-continent of Vvardenfell. When the Island of Solstheim was given to the Dark Elves by the then High King of Skyrim, many Dunmer left Skyrim to inhabit the town of Raven Rock.[21]

In 4E 122, the city of Winterhold was under the rule of Jarl Valdimar, who had a close relationship with Deneth, the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold. Around this time, the region of Winterhold was hit with a volley of tidal waves and other waves for about a year. What was significantly affected by the tidal waves was the city of Winterhold, where it finally gave way, resulting in a majority of the town being plunged into the waters of the Sea of Ghosts. Oddly enough, the College of Winterhold was unaffected by the Great Collapse, raising suspicion and even more animosity towards the College. The College had survived due to the powerful magic that the College instated around the whole structure What remained of Winterhold was a couple of buildings and minor ruined homes. The once great capital of Skyrim was reduced to a shanty town of its former self.[20][21]

A Land Divided; The Skyrim Civil War[]

The Skyrim Civil War ravaged the province.

"Untold numbers of Nords died defending the Empire against the Dominion. And for what? Skyrim being sold to the Thalmor so the Emperor could keep his throne! We're fighting because our own Jarls, once strong, wise men, have become fearful and blind to their people's suffering. We're fighting because Skyrim needs heroes, and there's no one else but us."
Ulfric Stormcloak[src]

In 4E 201, the province of Skyrim was ruled by High King Torygg and his wife, Elisif the Fair. The two ruled from the city of Solitude after the former capital, Winterhold was destroyed in an event called the Great Collapse. Torygg has ruled the Imperial Province of Skyrim in the aftermath of the Great War and the Markarth Incident, which was considered the catalyst of the coming Skyrim Civil War. Jarl Ulfric Stormcloak of Windhelm believed in the independence of Skyrim in a way that is just shy of treason. In the old ways, when one considers themselves a good High King, they would challenge the current one in a duel for the title. Ulfric traveled to Solitude to seek an audience with Torygg, to challenge his title. Before Torygg could react, Ulfric used the power of the Thu'um to shatter Torygg, killing him in the process. Ulfric escaped to Windhelm, and soon the Civil War commenced.[22]

Winterhold, along with the rest of the Old Holds joined the Stormcloaks in the city of Windhelm in Eastmarch. The leader of Winterhold for a while was, Korir, who was raised to hate and despise the College of Winterhold. Ruling from a broken city, Korir yearns for a Greater Winterhold and has a deep appreciation for the past of the former capital. At one point, Korir sought out the Helm of Jarl Hanse, the former Jarl of Winterhold after the death of Borgas. Sending an estranged warrior to find it, Korir was able to retrieve the Helm of Winterhold from the ruins of Skyrim.[23]

Deep within in the ruins of Alftand; the Elder Scrolls[]

The Elder Scrolls are scrolls that give insight into the future.

"The dov have words for such things that joorre do not. It is… an artifact from outside time. It does not exist, but it has always existed. Rah wahlaan. They are… hmm… fragments of creation. The Kelle… Elder Scrolls, as you name them, they have often been used for prophecy."
Paarthurnax, Grandmaster of the Greybeards[src]

Around the same time, the Dragon Crisis had occurred throughout the province of Skyrim. The Nordic God, Alduin the World-Eater returned in 4E 201, and the Last Dragonborn arose, as foretold in the prophecy described on Alduin's Wall. The Dragonborn revealed themselves to the denizens of Skyrim after defeating the Dragon known as Mirmulnir, saving the city of Whiterun from destruction. The Dragonborn traveled to High Hrothgar and spoke with the Greybeards, who guided the warrior to their grandmaster, Paarthurnax, who lives atop of the Throat of the World. Paarthurnax ordered the Dragonborn to find the Elder Scroll, the one that sent Alduin into the future.[24][25]

The Dragonborn traveled to the College of Winterhold and was told to meet Septimus Signus, a senile old man located in the frozen north of Winterhold, in the desolate glaciers. Signus would then have the Dragonborn travel to the ruins of Alftand, located in the middle of the Winterhold frost fields. Deep within Alftand, the Dragonborn discovered Blackreach and the Tower of Mzark, where they found the Elder Scroll nestled on a Dwarven pedestal. Taking the scroll, the Dragonborn returned to the Throat of the World, where they and Paarthurnax fought Alduin, only for him to retreat into Skuldafn and Sovngarde.[25][26]

The College's Excavation of Saarthal; the Eye of Magnus[]

The Eye of Magnus dates back to the Merethic Era and holds significance.

"The Nords found something when they built their city, buried deep in the ground. They attempted to keep it buried, but the elves learned of it and coveted it for themselves. I believe Ysgramor knew something of what the elves would find under Saarthal, and rallied together his people to keep the elves from gaining it. When Nords once again controlled Skyrim, this power was buried deep below the earth and sealed away."
Dranor Seleth[src]

In 4E 201, the College of Winterhold had weak ties with the denizens of Winterhold and had watchful eyes from the Thalmor, in the form of Ancano. The College was under the administration of Savos Aren, who is a Dark Elf and succeeded the previous Arch-Mage. Mirabelle Ervine was the Master Wizard of the College, almost like the principal of the College. The College had begun archaeological pursuits throughout the Winterhold region, with their eyes on the ruins of Saarthal. Tolfdir, the Master Alteration Mage at the time, conducted an expedition with his students, to learn about the Night of Tears and the Atmoran civilization in Saarthal. One of the students traveled deep into the ruins and was encountered by the Psijic Order, who told them about a powerful magical artifact deep within the ruins of Saarthal. The Student and Tolfdir traveled into the ruins and witnessed the Eye of Magnus, a large orb of magical properties that was guarded by the Draugr remains of Jyrik Gauldurson. Defeating the Draugr, the College took the Eye and left it inside the Hall of the Elements. Magic Guilds from all over Tamriel came to Skyrim, to view the eye, even Ancano of the Thalmor.[27]

Ancano of the Thalmor; the Eye of Magnus Incident[]

The Staff of Magnus can absorb tremendous amounts of power.

"The Staff of Magnus, one of the elder artifacts of Tamriel, was a metaphysical battery of sorts for its creator, Magnus. When used, it absorbs an enemy's health and mystical energy. In time, the Staff will abandon the mage who wields it before he becomes too powerful and upsets the mystical balance it is sworn to protect."
Yagrum Bagarn[src]

As time went on, the College studied the Eye, slowly learning the power that the Eye can possess and what the power can be used for. Ancano realized that the Eye could be used by the Third Aldmeri Dominion, to establish their rule over the provinces further. Ancano used powerful magic to harness the Eye, creating a barrier around himself, as he saps the energy from the Eye. The College attempted to break open the barrier and to defeat Ancano, but to no avail, not even Savos Aren nor Mirabelle Ervine were able to phase into the barrier. Savos tasked the student to find the Staff of Magnus, an Aedric Artifact originating from Magnus, the God of Magic. Ancano would disperse an explosion of magic from the Eye, killing both Mirabelle and Savos in the process and unleashing magical anomalies into Winterhold City. The College rushed into the town and saved the citizens from magical creatures. With knowledge of the staff, the student traveled to the distant region of Hjaalmarch, to the ruined city of the Labyrinthian, where they retrieved the Staff of Magnus from Morokei. With the power of the staff, the student broke down the barrier separating Ancano and defeated the Thalmor agent. The student became the Arch-Mage of Winterhold, with Tolfdir being the Master Wizard. The Psijic Order would take the Eye from the College and bring it back to Artaeum, where they would keep from mortal hands.[28][29][30]









  • Winterhold is one of the three regions in Skyrim to be named after their capital. The only other ones are Whiterun Hold and Falkreath Hold, both of which are in Skyrim.