Elder Scrolls
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For other uses, see Winterhold.

Winterhold is a former major city which is located in northern Skyrim. It is the capital city of the hold of the same name. Once a great capital rivaling Solitude in power and importance, Winterhold is now little more than a shell of its former self due to the Great Collapse.[1] The only surviving fort in the hold is Fort Kastav to the south.


First Era

Origins and Establishment

Legends claim that the city was made during the First Era, when Arch-Mage Shalidor built the city of Winterhold with a whispered spell. Whether Winterhold was actually built with magic is unknown, as it could be a hyperbole of Shalidor's power.[2]

War of Succession

In 1E 369, High King Borgas of Winterhold was killed during the Wild Hunt. This plummeted Skyrim into the War of Succession, which broke apart the First Nordic Empire.[3] Jarl Hanse, the ruler of Winterhold, was supposedly the most capable candidate for High King at the time and that the Moot's failure to appoint him eventually led to the war.[4]

Winterhold Rebellion

In 1E 2804, an event called the Winterhold Rebellion took place in protest of the forced conscription which was being imposed on the populace. The following year, the city was sacked.[5]

Third Era

Golden Age

During the third century of the Third Era, Baron Ulfe Gersen ruled over Winterhold.[6] He "brought considerable wealth and influence"[6] with Morihatha Septim when they married, which enabled them both to help Uriel Septim VI with his political struggles against the Elder Council.[6] Also during the Third Era, it was said that the people of Winterhold favored the use of Axes that were "six feet in length."[7]


In 3E 399, the final year of the Simulacrum, the Eternal Champion, with the help of the Winterhold Mages, rediscovered the location of the Labyrinthian, a structure constructed by the Archmage Shalidor almost 4000 years prior.

Fourth Era

"You know Winterhold used to be the seat of power in Skyrim? Now it's a shell."

The Great Collapse

Main article: The Great Collapse
Winterhold Seal

In 4E 122, a seemingly never-ending series of storms lashed out at the northern coast of Skyrim, eventually causing most of the city to erode alarmingly fast and be washed away into the Sea of Ghosts. This event is now known as the Great Collapse.

Strangely, the College of Winterhold was unaffected, remaining firm on a now freestanding spire of rock. This has led some to believe that the mages in the College of Winterhold were experimenting, and that this was the cause of the Great Collapse. Many inhabitants of Winterhold, both mages and magic-fearing Nords, were forced to abandon the city, and those who remain still eye the College with suspicion. Alternate theories regarding the Great Collapse are held by some, however; one is that it was a result of the eruption of the Red Mountain volcano in Vvardenfell, which was not felt until years after the actual incident.

Regardless of the genesis of the Great Collapse, it is certain that since that time, the population of Winterhold has continued to dwindle. Other than the College, only a handful of buildings still stand. What remains of the town’s economy is based around serving the needs of the College. As such, Winterhold has become something of a haven for mages in Skyrim, a safe refuge from distrustful Nords.

Since the Great Collapse, the city (or what's left of it) has suffered an economic downturn. Before the catastrophic event, the city flourished culturally due to refugees from Morrowind who, far from burdening the eastern city, brought with them new ideas, enriching the city's culture and stimulating its old mercantile spirit. Scholars from all over Tamriel have descended on the county since it became home to the Ysmir Collective, a library rescued from destruction in the east, and the cornerstone of academic life at the College of Winterhold.[8] Yet after the The Great Collapse and the event known as Red Year, relations between the populace of Winterhold and its Morrowind immigrants began to sour. Winterhold's large population of dark elves was driven out by Nords convinced they were involved in evil magic.[9] Many Dunmer mages chose to stay at the College rather than relocate however, much to the displeasure of the Winterhold Nord populace.[10] In the past few decades, many of the other Jarls of Skyrim began to disregard the opinions of the Jarl of Winterhold.[11]

Winterhold sunset


Scholars from all over Tamriel have descended upon the hold since it became home to the Ysmir Collective, a library rescued from destruction in the east and the cornerstone of academic life at the College of Winterhold.[8]


Due to a lack of residences caused by the cataclysm, it is not possible to purchase a house in Winterhold. Even with the Hearthfire DLC, Winterhold remains the only hold where it is not possible to purchase property. The Dragonborn will have to enroll at the College of Winterhold, which will entitle the Dragonborn to a dormitory within the College. Completing the entire College quest line will confer upon the Dragonborn the position of Archmage at the College, and thus ownership of the Archmage's quarters.

After encouraging Ranmir to settle his debts with innkeeper Dagur at The Frozen Hearth Inn, the beds in the rooms on the left hand side of the inn are available to use for free. It is permanent and can easily substitute as a house, although there is not as much space.

Points of Interest


Birna's Oddments




Jarl's Residence



College members

Tolfdir 01

Tolfdir, Master Alterer.


  • Birna – Owner of Birna's Oddments
  • Dagur – Owner of The Frozen Hearth Inn

Ruling class

Other citizens

Becoming Thane of Winterhold

TESV Banner Winterholdcity

The banner of Winterhold.

Korir, Jarl of Winterhold, honors the Dragonborn with the title Thane of Winterhold, after performing certain duties in the service of the Hold. It is first required that the Dragonborn recover the Helm of Winterhold from a random location before the Jarl recognizes their worth as a potential Thane.

Duties the Dragonborn may perform to become Thane:


  • The guards in Winterhold do not carry shields.
  • If the guards outside the city limits are killed, they do not re-spawn.
  • Winterhold is the only Hold to have a prison outside its capital city.
  • When there is a snow storm in Winterhold, using the shout Clear Skies may not make the weather more clement.
  • Winterhold and Morthal are the only cities to not have blacksmiths.
  • Winterhold is the only city to not have an alchemist.
  • Both Winterhold Imperial Camp and Winterhold Stormcloak Camp are closer to other hold capitals than the city of Winterhold itself. Winterhold Imperial Camp is closer to Dawnstar, and Winterhold Stormcloak Camp is closer to Windhelm.