The UESPWiki – Your source for The Elder Scrolls since 1995
Featured Article
Type Province
Continent Tamriel
Appears in Arena, Dawnstar, Shadowkey, Skyrim, Online
Nation: Skyrim
Capital: Windhelm (until 1E 420), Winterhold (city) (unknown),
Solitude (as of 4E 201)[nb 1]
Native Populace: Nords
Founded: Circa 1E 143
Official Language: Tamrielic
Head-of-State: High King
Currency: Septim

Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, is a cold and mountainous region also known as the Old Kingdom, Mereth, or the Fatherland,[1][2] or Keizaal in the dragon tongue.[3] Many past battles have given it a ravaged appearance and many ruins.[1][4] Though currently inhabited primarily by Nords, the Elves who they replaced had resided there since time immemorial.[1][4] The sovereign, the High King of Skyrim, is chosen by the Moot, a convention of jarls.[5] A jarl is a regional ruler chosen through heredity and, rarely, through right of arms.[5][6] The High King typically rules until death, though acts of dishonor, particularly the appearance of cowardice, can lead to the recall and reconsideration of the Moot.[5][7] Since the Pact of Chieftains was signed in 1E 420, the Moot does not give serious consideration to anyone but the High King's direct heir unless one is not available.[1]

Copy of a map of Skyrim dating to the late First Era


Morrowind lies to the east over the Velothi Mountains, Cyrodiil is south beyond the Jerall Mountains, Hammerfell (and the latest incarnation of Orsinium) is to the south and west, High Rock is past the Druadach Mountains to the west, and the Sea of Ghosts runs along the province's long northern coastline. Skyrim holds four of the five highest mountains in Tamriel (the Red Mountain being the only one outside Skyrim). Much of the northern half of Skyrim is cold and covered in snow. However, the southern regions of the province are relatively mild.[6]


The Nords long ago divided the province into nine geopolitical regions known as holds, each of which has a ruling jarl. Each hold is a large area of land roughly equivalent to a county in Cyrodiil, each individually governed by a jarl who maintains court in the hold's capital city. There are nine of them in total: Haafingar, Hjaalmarch, The Pale, Winterhold (region), Eastmarch, The Rift, Whiterun, Falkreath, and The Reach.[8]

Winterhold, Eastmarch, The Rift, and The Pale lie to the north and east of the province and are known as the Old Holds and remain isolated from the rest of Tamriel, both geographically and politically. In contrast, the western hold of The Reach has historically been more cosmopolitan and members of all the races of the continent have made their homes there.[1]



The Pale

Lore:The Pale


Lore:Winterhold (region)






The Reach

Lore:The Reach

Whiterun Hold

Lore:Whiterun Hold

Lake Ilinalta

Falkreath Hold

Lore:Falkreath Hold

The Rift

Lore:The Rift

Solstheim circa 3E 427


Although the history of the island of Solstheim is somewhat complicated, there was a time when it was considered a part of Skyrim.[9] The Skaal, an offshoot tribe of Nords, inhabit the northeastern corner of the island.[10][11] In 3E 433, the Nords of Skyrim launched a successful campaign to claim the whole of Solstheim.[12] In 4E 16, the High King of Skyrim formally gave the island to Morrowind as a refuge for the Dunmer after the events of Red Year.[9] The northern half of the island is snowy and mountainous. The southern half was originally covered in coniferous forests, but after the Red Year it was transformed into an ashland similar to those seen in Morrowind.[10][11]

Bleakrock Isle

Bleakrock Isle

Bleakrock Isle, also considered a part of Skyrim, is a small, snowy island in the Sea of Ghosts between Windhelm, Blacklight and Solstheim. A small populace of the Nords inhabited the Bleakrock Village until they were driven from the island by the Daggerfall Covenant in 2E 582. It is unknown if the island was resettled afterwards.[13]

Illustration of a typical Nord male


Skyrim's history is mostly that of the Nords. The Nords believe the sky, Kyne, breathed life into them at the summit of the Throat of the World, which is now considered the tallest mountain in Tamriel (the Red Mountain was acknowledged as the tallest before its eruption during the Red Year).[14][1][15] While historians tend to portray Ysgramor as the first Nordic settler of Skyrim, ushering in concurrent waves of immigration from Atmora, this is not the case. While their exact origins are unknown, the most widely accepted theory is that the early Nedic peoples (a now extinct culture) settled in Skyrim after arriving from Atmora well before the arrival of Ysgramor, and from there spread to the rest of Tamriel.[16]

In ancient times, Skyrim was ruled by the malevolent Dragon Cult. This early society revolved around the worship of dragons through intermediaries known as dragon priests, who ruled as gods above men. Sometime in the late Merethic Era, the mythical Dragon War saw the overthrow of the Dragon Cult when Alduin, Akatosh's firstborn, was defeated atop the Throat of the World. The veneration of animals gods was eventually replaced by the Eight Divines.[17]

The many mountain ranges in and around the province resulted from unknown cataclysms in the Dawn Era.[4] The only known relic from this time is the Skyforge, an ancient, powerful, and still-active forge built into the living rock in modern-day Whiterun. Who built it remains a mystery, but the Elves feared it, and this led the invading Atmorans to claim it for themselves.[18]

The Aldmer and Snow Elves occupied Skyrim until the late Merethic Era, when the final wave of Nordic immigration from Atmora, led by Ysgramor, finally established Nordic supremacy in modern-day Skyrim.[1][16] Settlers from Atmora crossed the Sea of Ghosts and made landfall here many times, often clashing with those who had already established themselves.[4][16] These early settlers called the land "Mereth", after the Elves that roamed the untamed wilderness. While the Nedic peoples were generally peaceful, the arrival of Ysgramor and the proto-Nords sparked a long, antagonistic chain of conquests that ultimately expelled the Elves from Skyrim.[17][1] The instigating spark of conflict was the infamous Night of Tears, where the Elves attacked the human settlement of Saarthal. According to Imperial scholars, the Elves realized that this newer race could outpace their relatively stagnant own. Others posit that the human inhabitants had discovered a powerful artifact, the Eye of Magnus, that the Elves desired.[6] Nonetheless, Ysgramor escaped the carnage, returning to Skyrim with his now legendary band of Five Hundred Companions, slaughtering the Elves and establishing man as the foremost race in Skyrim.[1] Ysgramor's clan expanded their territory, and it continued to expand and contract by winning and losing territories in Morrowind and High Rock during the First Era.[1][4][19] Elven rule of Skyrim is thought to have ended under the reign of King Harald (1E 143 - 1E 221), though pockets of Snow Elves hid away in the wilderness.[1]

In the years after 1E 420, however, the Dwemer of Clan Kragen migrated into Skyrim from Resdayn, following in the footsteps of Clan Rourken's exodus. Clan Kragen founded the city of Arkngthamz, which flourished despite constant attacks from the Nords. The success of Arkngthamz encouraged other Dwemer clans to settle in Skyrim, and these joined with Clan Kragen to form a loose alliance of four city-states that were considered unassailable. Clan Kragen's presence eventually extended further west into the Dragon's Teeth Mountains, where they carved out an even larger bastion called Arkngthamz-Phng.[20] The prosperity of Skyrim's Dwemer city-states was relatively short-lived, as the discovery of rich deposits of Aetherium and the creation of the Aetherium Forge immediately shattered the alliance and launched decades of internal conflict. With the Dwemer distracted and weakened, the Nords under High King Gellir finally conquered the squabbling city-states in only three years, though the Dwemer would return a century later and reclaim their former holdings.[21] When the entire Dwemer race disappeared around 1E 700, they left behind the Falmer, Snow Elves who they had allowed to take refuge with them and then twisted into rebellious slave monsters.[22] They remained under the ground, occasionally making forays to the surface and creating legends among the Nords of their presence and malevolent intent.[1][22]

After the assassination of High King Logrolf in 2E 431, a dispute over the succession resulted in Skyrim's division into two independent kingdoms. It began when Jarl Svartr of Solitude challenged the legitimacy of Logrolf's heir, Freydis, and a Moot was convened. Although Freydis was accepted by the Crown of Verity, a magical artifact crafted to test the worthiness of potential rulers of Skyrim, and named High Queen in Windhelm, a partial Moot held in Solitude declared Svartr to be High King. From then on, Skyrim was divided into two kingdoms. In the east, Freydis and her successors ruled over the Rift, Eastmarch, the Pale, and Winterhold (region), while in the west, Svartr and his successors ruled over Falkreath, Whiterun Hold, Hjaalmarch, and Haafingar.[23][oog 1] This schism persisted at least until the time of the Three Banners War in 2E 582;[24] Eastern Skyrim fought in the war as a member of the Ebonheart Pact, while Western Skyrim remained neutral.[25] At that time, the Reach did not belong to either kingdom and the Reachmen had banded together under the Despot of Markarth, who allied himself with Mannimarco.[17][oog 1]

Orc strongholds dot the wilderness; many Orcs were escorted into Skyrim by the Imperial Legion following the sacking of Orsinium in the early Fourth Era.[26] Besides the Orcs, the Elven population has also increased due to the Red Year of 4E 5, when natural disasters in Morrowind sent many Dunmer fleeing into eastern Skyrim.[27][28] Following the Great War, Thalmor officials hunted for and persecuted Talos worshippers, thus bringing some small measure of Elven rule back to Skyrim.[6][29] While these smaller creatures vied for dominance over the millennia, the giants have been largely ignored (and often protected by law).[6]


The Jagged Crown

The political structure of the Elves who first inhabited Skyrim is unknown. When the Atmorans first migrated to Skyrim, before the Dragon War of the Merethic Era, the Dragon Priests of the Dragon Cult held roles on par with kings, but the Atmorans recognized relatively secular chieftains as their leaders.[1][30] Ysgramor is the first known human ruler of Skyrim.[31] His progeny would continue to rule after his death; King Harald, the 13th of his line, is considered the first "historical" ruler.[16][32] Since Harald's time or even before, the High King traditionally wore the Jagged Crown, though it was lost with King Borgas in 1E 396 until its rediscovery in 4E 201.[6] A new symbol of rulership, the Crown of Verity, later called the Crown of Freydis, was crafted to determine the worthiness of potential rulers following the death of Olaf One-Eye, but has not been seen beyond the Second Era.[23] Known High Kings and their reigns are listed below:

  • Pre-Schism
    • Harald (1E 143 - 1E 221)[33]
    • Hjalmer (1E 221 - 1E 222)[16][34]
    • Vrage the Gifted (1E 222 - 1E ?)[34][35]
    • Borgas (1E ? - 1E 369)[36]
    • Olaf One-Eye (1E 420 - 1E 452)[33]
    • Kjoric the White (1E 452 - 1E 478)[23][nb 2]
    • Hoag Merkiller (1E ? - 1E 480)[nb 3]
    • Wulfharth (1E 480 - 533)[33]
    • Gellir (1E ? - 1E ?)[21][nb 4]
    • Hale the Pious (1E ? - 1E ?)[37]
    • Erling (?E ? - ?E ?)[38]
    • Logrolf (2E ? - 2E 431)[23][39]
  • Schism[nb 5]
    • Rulers of Eastern Skyrim
      • Freydis (2E 431 - 2E ?)[40][23]
      • Mabjaarn Flame-Hair (2E ? - 2E 572)[23]
      • Nurnhilde (2E 572 - 2E 572)[41][24]
      • Jorunn the Skald King (2E 572 - 2E ?)[42][13]
    • Rulers of Western Skyrim
      • Svartr (2E 431 - 2E ?)[23]
      • Svargrim (2E ? - 2E ?)[43]
  • Post-Schism
The stone and timber buildings of Winterhold
The Blue Palace of Solitude


Nord architects are masters of creating structures that last for generations, with designs that can be found from Bruma to Solstheim dating over 3,000 years old.[1][17] Many ancient Nordic ruins built into the mountains dating back to the Merethic and First eras remain standing throughout Skyrim.[6] They are towering, foreboding structures of black granite. Some were settlements and temples from when the Nords lived under the rule of the Dragon Cult and after; others are burial tombs for the honored dead. Most modern buildings in Skyrim are built partly underground to conserve heat, and are made with stones, with wood used only for support, and roofs of straw. The Nords are known as masters of lumber construction, and these houses are essential to keep in heat in the freezing climate.[1] Some Nord wells are known to have spikes attached to the bottom of buckets to crack through ice.[17]

After the reign of Ysgramor, Nord stonesmiths created a method of erecting igneous rock. Initially, these blocks were hewed from porphyry deposits, although by the Second Era, they were somewhat supplanted by hard-wearing granite and volcanic stone gathered from the eastern side of the province. Each block was slotted together without requiring seams or mortar, allowing huge walls, structures, and towers to be constructed with both ease and haste, even with irregularly-shaped stone. Many of these structures proved difficult for invaders to dismantle, such as the Old Fort, a royal bastion on Skyrim's northern frontier, which still stood in the mid-Second Era after being built in the time of the First Empire.[17][1]


Skyrim's Pine Forest
The Eldergleam

Skyrim's frigid environment still supports a great wealth of flora, notably its many pine forests.[15][45] Many of its plants and fungi are useful for alchemy, including bleeding crown mushrooms, the deathbell flower, jazbay grapes, and nightshade. Tundra cotton is not only used for making potions, but for making many of the fabrics for clothing and other purposes in Skyrim.[45]

A horker attack
Ice Wolf
Ice Wraith
Druadach Mountains
Frost Dragon
A peak in Eastmarch
A Nordic ruin
The Rift


The beasts of Skyrim are as diverse as they are dangerous. Horkers line the northern coast, posing a greater danger to hunters and fisherman, and ice wolves prowl in pairs all over the province.[6][46] Slaughterfish and other types of fish glide through the rivers and lakes.[6] Other common beasts roam the wilderness, and rumors abound of less common ones like werewolves and wispmothers.[47] Many of them, such as hagravens and luna moths, yield body parts used in alchemy.[45] Ice wraiths and other creatures are hunted in the mountains by young traditional Nords as rites of passage.[1][48] Undead draugr still guard the ruins of the province.[49] Of course, the most legendary "creatures" are the majestic and intelligent dragons, who have left their mark on Skyrim in more ways than one. Ancient structures dedicated to the Dragon Cult and "word walls" in the language of the dragons still dot the landscape.[6][50]

Notable Places

Bleakrock Isle
A small island northeast of Skyrim and south of Solstheim.
College of Winterhold
A famous school for Magic in the city of Winterhold.
A busy port on the northern coast and capital of the Pale.
Dunmeth Pass
The main pass and one of the few traversable roads leading through the Velothi Mountains between northwestern Morrowind and eastern Skyrim.
The capital of the eponymous hold is in southwestern Skyrim, close to the border with both Cyrodiil and Hammerfell.
Lake Geir
A lake in the western Rift.
Hsaarik Head
At the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape, it is the place where tradition holds that Ysgramor's Five Hundred Companions made landfall.
Lake Ilinalta
A lake in west-central Falkreath Hold, in the middle of Skyrim's Pine Forest.
Karth River
A western river running the length of Skyrim before emptying into the Sea of Ghosts near Solitude.
An ancient Nordic ruin. Named for the labyrinth built sometime in the First Era by Arch-Mage Shalidor, although the ruins themselves are much older, having been the city of Bromjunaar, the capital of the Dragon Cult.
The capital of the Reach is in the southwest corner of the province.
The fairly small, humble town of little economic or strategic importance is noteworthy as the capital of Hjaalmarch.
Pale Pass
A secluded pass through the Jerall Mountains on the Cyrodiil-Skyrim border.
The capital of the Rift, long a center for crime, lies close to both Cyrodiil and Morrowind.
An ancient Nordic city that was sacked in the Night of Tears, Saarthal is where the Eye of Magnus was found in the Fourth Era.
Sky Haven Temple
Fortress stronghold in the Druadach Mountains built by Reman Cyrodiil's Akaviri Dragonguard.
A city located in Hjaalmarch, abandoned sometime during the Fourth Era.
A major port city and capital of Haafingar.
Throat of the World
The highest peak in the province of Skyrim. Though once considered second to Red Mountain, it is now known as the highest mountain in all of Tamriel.
Treva River
A river at the center of the Rift. It flows from Lake Honrich to Lake Geir.
White River
The longest river in Skyrim, stretching from the south of the province to the northeast corner. Its source is Lake Ilinalta, north of Falkreath. It flows northeast to join the Sea of Ghosts past Windhelm.
A city in central Skyrim, and the capital of Whiterun Hold. Built at the spring of the White River.
The capital of Eastmarch lies close to the border with Morrowind. It's the famed location of the Palace of the Kings.
The capital of the eponymous hold was once quite prosperous, but was devastated in the Great Collapse in 4E 122.


  1. ^ While Solitude has been the seat of the High King and thus the capital of Skyrim for "centuries" prior to 4E 201 because of its importance to the Empire, Windhelm was the capital of the kingdom from the time of its founding by High King Harald at least until the collapse of the First Empire of the Nords in 1E 420. One of Skyrim's loading screens also mentions that Winterhold once served as capital, but does not specify when.
  2. ^ Rislav The Righteous states that Kjoric the White was killed eight months before certain events in 1E 478, placing his death either in that year or in 1E 477.
  3. ^ Hoag Merkiller was said to have died at the Battle of Glenumbria Moors, after which Wulfharth ascended to the throne. However, some sources place the date of the battle at 1E 480, and others at 1E 482.
  4. ^ Gellir could not have reigned any earlier than 1E 533. His chief accomplishment is the conquest of Skyrim's Dwemer city-states, and according to Arkngthamz-Phng, those city-states were not established until the decades after Clan Rourken founded Volenfell in 1E 420. Since the consecutive reigns of four other High Kings span the years between 1E 420 and 1E 533, Gellir could only have ruled sometime after 1E 533. The Aetherium Wars notes that the Dwemer reclaimed their lands "a century" after Gellir's conquests, and since the Dwemer had disappeared by 1E 700, it is likely that Gellir's reign occurred before the end of the 6th Century of the First Era.
  5. ^ Skyrim split into independent Eastern and Western kingdoms in 2E 431 amid a dispute over the succession. Freydis was proclaimed High Queen in Windhelm, and her successors (who include Mabjaarn Flame-Hair, Nurnhilde, and Jorunn the Skald King) ruled Eastern Skyrim. Svartr was proclaimed High King in Solitude, and his successors ruled Western Skyrim.

See Also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q PGE
  2. ^ Provinces of Tamriel
  3. ^ Odahviing's dialogue
  4. ^ a b c d e PGE
  5. ^ a b c Skyrim's Rule
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Events of Skyrim
  7. ^ a b Sybille Stentor's dialogue in Skyrim
  8. ^ The Holds of Skyrim
  9. ^ a b Loading screen in Dragonborn
  10. ^ a b Events of Bloodmoon
  11. ^ a b Events of Dragonborn
  12. ^ Rumors in Oblivion
  13. ^ a b Events of ESO
  14. ^ Children of the Sky
  15. ^ a b Loading screen in Skyrim
  16. ^ a b c d e Frontier, Conquest
  17. ^ a b c d e f EGT
  18. ^ Songs of the Return, Vol 7
  19. ^ The Legendary Sancre Tor
  20. ^ Arkngthamz-Phng
  21. ^ a b The Aetherium Wars
  22. ^ a b The Falmer: A Study
  23. ^ a b c d e f g The Crown of Freydis
  24. ^ a b Second Invasion: Reports
  25. ^ The Second Akaviri Invasion
  26. ^ The Infernal City
  27. ^ The Red Year
  28. ^ Dunmer of Skyrim
  29. ^ Nords Arise!
  30. ^ The Dragon War
  31. ^ Songs of the Return
  32. ^ The Annotated Anuad
  33. ^ a b c Plaque in Windhelm
  34. ^ a b The Daggerfall Chronicles
  35. ^ King Edward, Part X
  36. ^ A History of Daggerfall
  37. ^ On Oblivion
  38. ^ a b Walking the World, Vol XI
  39. ^ Crafting Motifs 4: The Nords
  40. ^ Oengul War-Anvil's dialogue in Skyrim
  41. ^ The Brothers' War
  42. ^ Jorunn the Skald-King (book)
  43. ^ Jakolar's Journal
  44. ^ The Wolf Queen, v8
  45. ^ a b c Herbalist's Guide to Skyrim
  46. ^ Horker Attacks
  47. ^ Lost Legends
  48. ^ Herbane's Bestiary
  49. ^ Amongst the Draugr
  50. ^ Dragon Language: Myth no More

Note: the following references are not found in-game. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.

  1. ^ a b Loremaster's Episode of ESO-RP