College of Winterhold Quest: Under Saarthal

Did we miss anything in this section? Is there something we didn't discover? Let us know!


You'll receive this quest at the conclusion of the quest First Lessons.


This quest will take you to Saarthal, which you'll find to the southwest of the College of Winterhold. When you get there, you should find Tolfdir addressing some students near the entrance. If Tolfdir and the students aren't there yet, then you might need to run some errands because it will take them a while to walk over from the College of Winterhold.

Inside the Saarthal Excavation, Tolfdir will give you a brief history of the site, and he'll warn you that it isn't "entirely secured" yet. Then he'll direct you to locate Arniel Gane, who has been cataloguing the college's finds during the explorations. You'll find Gane to the northwest (#1). He'll ask you to search for some magical artifacts -- three Enchanted Rings and an Ancient Amulet -- which you'll find nearby (#2).

However, when you grab the Ancient Amulet, gates will close behind you, locking you into a small room. To escape, you'll need to wear the Ancient Amulet (now called a Saarthal Amulet), which will cause a resonance with the part of the wall where the amulet had been hanging. If you then cast any Destruction spell at the wall, it will break open, revealing a secret passage leading to the north. The gates behind you will also open, allowing Tolfdir to join you.

Tolfdir will then accompany you as you explore the secret passage. A short ways in (#3), the world will go fuzzy, and Nerein of the Psijic Order will appear. Nerein will warn you that there are dangers ahead, that you'll be judged, and that you'll need to prevent some sort of disaster. Then he'll disappear. Tolfdir won't see any of this, but he'll be intrigued by your vision.

As you and Tolfdir continue on, you'll get attacked by some draugr. Tolfdir will assist you in these battles, but he'll provide more distraction than actual damage. Then just before the exit from the area (Exit A), Tolfdir will get distracted by some draugr coffins, and he'll decide to stop and study them while you scout ahead.

Inside Saarthal, you'll have to fight more draugr, but you'll also come to two puzzle rooms:
  • In the first puzzle room (#4), you'll find a locked gate, a lever, and six stone pillars. To get the door open, you'll need to turn the pillars to the correct symbols and then pull the lever. You can spot the correct symbol for each pillar by examining the wall behind it (the Candlelight spell might be helpful for this). On the northern side of the room the correct symbols are (from west to east) eagle, snake, whale. On the southern side of the room the correct symbols are (from west to east) whale, eagle, eagle.

  • In the second puzzle room (#6), you'll find a locked gate, a lever and four stone pillars. This room works just like the first puzzle room -- you'll need to turn the pillars to the correct symbols and then pull the lever to get the door open, and you'll find the correct symbols located just above the pillars -- but this time turning some pillars will move other pillars, making the puzzle more complicated. To solve the puzzle, start with the eastern pillars, since they'll also move the western pillars, and then turn the western pillars, since they won't move anything else. The correct symbols are (clockwise starting at the northeastern pillar) snake, whale, eagle, whale.
Past the puzzle rooms, Tolfdir will rejoin you -- just in time to discover a strange glowing orb and get attacked by Jyrik Gauldurson (#7). Tolfdir will immediately rush over to the orb and do something to it to remove Jyrik's invulnerability, and that will leave it up to you to defeat Jyrik. Jyrik will always take damage from physical attacks, but he'll only take damage from one of the three types of elemental damage -- the one he isn't glowing with (so, for example, if he's glowing with frost and lightning then you'll only be able to damage him with fire). Jyrik's elemental invulnerabilities will change over time, so be sure to have a variety of spells ready.

After the battle, you'll find a Gauldur Amulet Fragment and a Writ of Sealing on Jyrik's corpse. Reading the writ will trigger the quest Forbidden Legend, assuming you haven't started it already. You'll also find the Staff of Jyrik Gauldurson on a nearby table.

When you talk to Tolfdir about what happened, he won't know what to make of it, but he'll decide that he should stay and watch over the orb while you report in to Arch-Mage Savos Aren at the college. You'll find Savos in the Arch-Mage's Quarters, which are connected to the Hall of the Elements. When you tell Savos about the orb, he'll thank you for the information, and he'll reward you with a Staff of Magelight.

1 - Arniel Gane

2 - Magic Artifacts

3 - Nerein

4 - First Puzzle Room

5 - Tough Draugr Battle

6 - Second Puzzle Room

7 - Glowing Orb and Jyrik Gauldurson

8 - Word Wall

When you get close enough to the Word Wall, you'll unlock the Word of Power for "Statue, Ice Form."

  1. Main doorway between the Saarthal Excavation and Saarthal.
  2. Back doorway between the Saarthal Excavation and Saarthal. You'll only be able to use this doorway to exit Saarthal.
  3. World exit.




Main Quests


College Quests


Companions Quests


Daedric Quests


Dark Brotherhood Quests


Imperial Quests


Stormcloak Quests


Thieves Guild Quests


Other Side Quests