How to Complete the Elder Knowledge Quest in Skyrim (2024)

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A guide to locating & retrieving the Elder Scroll

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Last Updated: May 30, 2023

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  • Locating the Elder Scroll
  • |
  • Retrieving the Elder Scroll
  • |

The Elder Knowledge is one of the main-line quests featuring many different locations including Blackreach, the vast underground city filled with glowing mushrooms, and Falmer. You will explore many new locations and reveal a ton of Skyrim as you try to locate the Elder Scroll. To start this quest, you must complete the Throat of the World and speak with Paarthurnax.

Part 1

Part 1 of 2:

Locating the Whereabouts of the Elder Scroll

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  1. 1

    Start the quest by accepting the task from Paarthurnax. You can start this quest by speaking with Paarthurnax, located at the Throat of the World. Paarthurnax will reveal the history of the Dragon War. The Nords used the Elder Scroll as their last resort to banish Alduin. What they didn’t know was it simply sent Alduin forward in time, postponing the inevitable threat. In order to locate the Elder Scroll, you will need to speak with Esbern or Arngeir for further information of its whereabouts.

  2. 2

    Speak with Esbern or Arngeir. It doesn’t matter who you decide to speak with when looking for information on the Elder Scroll. Both Esbern and Arngeir will point you towards the College of Winterhold as a place to start finding more on the whereabouts of the Elder Scroll. You can locate Esbern outside of the Sky Haven Temple east of Markarth. Arngeir can be found at High Hrothgar either reading, meditating, or sleeping. Your quest book will update and tell you to find more about the Elder Scroll at the College of Winterhold.


  3. 3

    Visit the College of Winterhold. Once you visit the college, head to the Arcanaeum, which can be found as soon as you enter the college to the right, where you will see a door leading downstairs to the Arcanaeum. You will need to locate Urag gro-Shub in the Arcanaeum.

  4. 4

    Talk with Urag gro-Shub. You can usually find Urag gro-Shub sitting on a chair at the back of the Arcanaeum reading a book. Speak with him and mention the Elder Scrolls. Urag will find you two books written about the history of the Elder Scrolls. Read the two Elder Scroll books and speak with Urag again, mentioning that the Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls is incomprehensible. Urag will mention the book was written by an expert on the Elder Scrolls named Septimus Signus. He will tell you that the last known location this expert was seen at was the Septimus Signus’s Outpost.

    • You can avoid visiting the College of Winterhold altogether and just visit Septimus Signus’s Outpost. There is no disadvantage or change in the questline by skipping the College of Winterhold as you can visit anytime you would like.[1]
  5. 5

    Go to Septimus Signus’s Outpost. The outpost can be found just north of the college in an glacier. Once there, climb down the ladder and make your way into the single room where Septimus is located. Septimus can be seen working on a large Dwemer Box.

  6. 6

    Speak with Septimus and ask him about the Elder Scroll. Septimus will mention that the Elder Scroll is located deep within Blackreach, a massive underground city. Septimus will hand you an Attunement Sphere, which is required to get into Blackreach as well as a Blank Lexicon used to unlock the Elder Scroll.

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Part 2

Part 2 of 2:

Retrieving the Elder Scroll from Blackreach

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  1. 1

    Head to Alftand. In order to gain entry to Blackreach, you must first head to Alftand, which is an ancient Dwemer Ruin located southwest of Winterhold. Before entering these ruins, it must be considered that the enemies within are very strong and can be difficult for weaker players. It is recommended that you are at least level 20 and have a weapon skill of 50 or greater.

    • When entering Alftand, you will need to travel the large glacial tunnels and follow them until you reach the Dwemer Ruins. When you come across the barred door, proceed towards the passage that heads up a ramp to the west. Continue heading north until you reach two Dwarven Spheres. You will have to kill both of them before moving on. Head through the door and up to the Dwarven Spider-infested route heading south. As you make your way through the passages, you will make your way to the Alftand Animonculory.
  2. 2

    Travel through the Alftand Animonculory. Within the Animonculory, you will find Falmer nests, which you will have to fight through. When you are hidden to enemies, you will produce double the attack amount you would compared to being seen. Combining this with a bow is a fantastic way to get through this portion of Alftand.

  3. 3

    Fight your way through the Alftand Cathedral. You will come across two Falmer and eventually a Dwarven Centurion. The best way to take the Dwarven Centurion out is through continuous sneak attacks with a bow. The higher your sneak skill is, the harder it will be for the Dwarven Centurion to find you. After you have dealt with the Centurion, you will come across Sulla and Umanan arguing with each other. You can either kill these two or sneak past them as they are busy arguing. After they finish arguing they will attack each other, the winner will seek to attack you.

    • Their argument gives you plenty of time to avoid them altogether. You won’t need to sneak around them if they are still arguing as they are completely busy. Insert the Attunement Sphere into the Dwarven Mechanism, which is located in the center of the room where Sulla and Umanan are located. This will open a stairway below in the floor and unlock the passage to Blackreach. Both Sulla and Umanan will be too busy arguing to notice what you have unlocked it!
  4. 4

    Enter Blackreach and locate the Dwarven Elevator. As soon as you enter Blackreach, head left to a Dwarven Elevator, which will lead to the surface. Once you reach the surface, you will unlock the location on your map so you can fast travel in and out of Blackreach. It is important to unlock the gate with the lever to your right, or else you won’t be able to get into Blackreach this way. Once the gate above is open, you can head back down to search for the Elder Scroll.

  5. 5

    Make your way to the Tower of Mzark. Follow the quest marker to the Tower of Mzark. You will come across various enemies, including Falmer and Dwarven Centurions. You can either fight these beasts or sneak by. Once you reach the Tower of Mzark, you can locate the Elder Scroll inside.

  6. 6

    Locate the Oculory and active it. You can find the Oculory through the door in front of you and up the ramps to your left or right. Make your way up to the Oculory controls and insert the Blank Lexicon into the controls.

  7. 7

    Solve the puzzle and retrieve the Elder scroll. The controls have the Lexicon Receptacle (where you insert your Blank Lexicon) and four positioning buttons. The two pedestals to the Receptacles left are the currently activated buttons. Press the tallest of these two pedestals until the pedestal with the blue button begins to glow. The two pedestals control the ceiling lens array. Start by pressing the tallest of these two pedestals twice until the left pedestal begins to glow. If you press this button too many times, you will have to start over. Press the newly glowing pedestal, which will make crystal lens to descend from the ceiling. This will cause a crystal to open up and reveal the Elder Scroll.

  8. 8

    Pick up the Elder Scroll. As soon as you acquire the Elder Scroll, you will complete the quest leading to the next quest, Alduin’s Bane.

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Community Q&A


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  • Question

    How do I start Dark Brotherhood missions?

    How to Complete the Elder Knowledge Quest in Skyrim (19)

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    The quest Innocence Lost gets you to kill Grelod the Kind. The quest is started in Windhelm, and Grelod is in the orphanage at Riften. Do not worry about stealth; you get no bounty for attacking her. After this quest, the player will receive a letter saying, "We know." Go to sleep; you will wake up in an abandoned cabin, where you are forced to kill one of three hostages. After this, you have access to the Falkreath Sanctuary, where you can get both large targets and smaller targets by speaking to the NPCs.

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