|Appears in||Arena, Dawnstar, Shadowkey, Skyrim|
Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, is a cold and mountainous region known as the Old Kingdom, Mereth, or the Fatherland. Many past battles have given it a ravaged appearance and many ruins. Though currently inhabited primarily by Nords, the Elves who they replaced had resided there since time immemorial. The sovereign, the High King of Skyrim, is chosen by the Moot, a convention of jarls. A jarl is a regional ruler chosen through heredity and, rarely, through right of arms. 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. 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.
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).
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, Eastmarch, The Rift, Whiterun, Falkreath, and The Reach.
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.
Eastmarch is the eastern hold of Skyrim, and one of the four known collectively as the Old Holds. As its name suggests, it lies against the province's eastern border, close to the Dunmeth Pass, the only passage to and from Morrowind in the area due to the high and rugged Velothi Mountains. Windhelm is the only sizable city in the otherwise rural province due to the expansive hot springs which dominate the hold. Darkwater River winds north from Lake Geir into this treacherous hot spot, where it meets the White River which then drains into the Sea of Ghosts as it passes Windhelm. River Yogrim also joins with the White River before it ends at the Sea of Ghosts. It drains Lake Yogrim, which lies west in the hold known as the Pale.
 The Pale
The Pale is a northern boot-shaped hold of Skyrim, one of the four known collectively as the Old Holds. The hold is a barren realm covered by vast fields of ice and snow, some scattered mountains, and some pine forests. It stretches from the center of Skyrim all the way to its northern coast. Lake Yogrim marks the eastern corner, while the capital Dawnstar is a busy port found along the northern coast. The hold's distinctive boot shape is due to it curving around the mountain range which forms its border with Winterhold.
Winterhold is the northernmost hold in Skyrim, and has weather to match. The Sea of Ghosts is off its northern coast, Eastmarch is to the southeast and Dawnstar is to the south and west. The College of Winterhold is the most notable feature of the hold, which was spared even though the Great Collapse tore down most of the city around it. What remains is a meager village, technically the hold's capital city, near the entrance to the College.
Winterhold consists of snowy coasts, as well as an even snowier mountain range which marks the border between Winterhold and the Pale, and some of the northern border to Eastmarch. Between the mountains and the sea to the east lies an ice plain, where the elements are at their harshest, and life at its most scarce. Rock and ice shelves form the barrier between Winterhold and the sea to the north and east, dotted occasionally with shingle beaches.
Hjaalmarch, or Hjaalmarch Hold, is a lowland coastal hold in Skyrim. Roughly half the hold is a foul-smelling marsh, south of which is the capital and only settlement Morthal (although some farms dot the tundra). The region is veined with waterways that empty into the Sea of Ghosts, and the southern and eastern mountains near its borders further isolate the area.
Hjaalmarch is home to the "Karth delta", also called the "Mouths of the Karth, where the mighty Karth River and the smaller River Hjaal empty into the Sea of Ghosts through a variety of intricate channels. The Deathbell flower is known to be abundant throughout the swamps. Many ruins dot the hold, including the legendary Labyrinthian. Combined with the fog that surrounds the marshes and the creatures that stalk the land (Wispmothers purportedly originated here), Hjaalmarch is considered one of the more mysterious holds in Skyrim.
Haafingar, or Haafingar Hold, is a relatively small, mountainous, coastal hold in northwestern Skyrim. Its capital is the famed city of Solitude, and the two are sometimes treated as one and the same. Solitude is perched atop a large rock outcropping towering high above the end of the Karth River and the massive Karth delta. However, Haafingar is far more than just Solitude. The Karth River allows for a great deal of commerce in Solitude and the town of Dragon Bridge (mostly in timber and fish), and the long coastline with the Sea of Ghosts is littered with frozen shipwrecks and treasures. The mountain ranges are filled with caves and ruins where bandits and creatures make their homes. The hold shares borders with two other holds, the Reach to the south and Hjaalmarch to the southeast, and the province of High Rock borders it to the west. The mountains of Haafingar are only the tapered end of the Druadach Mountains, an enormous range of jagged mountain peaks to the south which rise up among the clouds of the Reach.
 The Reach
The Reach is the large southwestern hold of Skyrim; it gives way to High Rock to the west and Hammerfell to the south, though exactly where has changed over the course of history and various wars. Near the southwestern corner, the capital Markarth, formerly a Dwemer stronghold, is built into the living rock of the Druadach Mountains, which are replaced by the Jerall Mountains near the hold's southeast corner. The Karth River begins in the southern region and drains the mountains, running like a deep gouge through the middle of the hold. The peaks of the Druadach range lie to the west of it, and high bluffs typically rise on the east leading to grassland and tundra.
The hold is inhabited by Nords and the native Reachmen, who are primarily of Breton descent. They are known for resisting foreign rule by using ancient magic and an intimate knowledge of the landscape to their advantage in guerrilla warfare and espionage tactics. An Orc stronghold could be found in the steppes of the mountains in the south of the hold in the Fourth Era, and there have been several settlements over the years along the Karth, such as Karthwasten and Old Hroldan.
 Whiterun Hold
It borders six of the other eight holds in Skyrim, the exceptions being Winterhold and Haafingar. Giants are often seen traversing the landscape while herding mammoths to grazing areas or back to their camps. Surrounding the capital, Whiterun, are fertile plains dotted with farms that supply the food for much of Skyrim. The other notable settlements in the hold are Rorikstead and Riverwood.
 Falkreath Hold
Falkreath Hold is a southern hold in Skyrim along the border with Cyrodiil and Hammerfell. It's the second southernmost hold in Skyrim, after the Rift. The capital is Falkreath; the abandoned settlements of Helgen and Neugrad Watch are also located here. Home of Skyrim's famous Pine Forest, Falkreath Hold is covered in a fine mist that makes the land seem without season. The mountains rising above Falkreath are well above the snow line, striking a stark comparison to the rest of the hold. The most distinguishing geographic feature is Lake Ilinalta, which covers a large portion of the central region and acts as the source for the White River.
 The Rift
The Rift, the southeastern hold of Skyrim, is a temperate region northwest of the intersection between the Velothi Mountains and the Jerall Mountains. It is one of the four holds known collectively as the Old Holds. The capital city of Riften is on the shores of Lake Honrich, which is drained by the Treva River and Lake Geir. Its relatively mild climate allows for thriving agriculture.
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).
The many mountain ranges in and around the province resulted from unknown cataclysms in the Dawn Era. 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.
The Aldmer and Falmer occupied Skyrim until the late Merethic Era, when the final wave of Nordic immigration, led by Ysgramor, finally established Nordic supremacy in modern-day Skyrim. Settlers from Atmora crossed the Sea of Ghosts and made landfall here many times, often clashing with those who had already established themselves. They often lived in harmony with the Aldmer, though they sometimes clashed.
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. Elven rule of Skyrim is thought to have ended under the reign of King Harald (1E 143 - 1E 221). However, the Dwemer remained in their underground cities and in massive underground caverns like Blackreach, while on the surface pockets of Snow Elves hid away in the wilderness. The Nords often tried to battle with the Dwemer, but rarely had any success. When the Dwemer disappeared around 1E 700, they left behind the Falmer who had taken refuge with them, who they had twisted into a monster race of rebellious slaves. They remained under the ground, occasionally making forays to the surface and creating legends amongst the Nords of their presence and malevolent intent. Orc strongholds also dot the wilderness; many Orcs were escorted into Skyrim by the Imperial Legion following the sacking of Orsinium in the early Fourth Era.
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. Following the Great War, Thalmor officials hunted for and persecuted Talos worshippers, thus bringing some small measure of Elven rule back to Skyrim. And while these smaller creatures vied for dominance over the millennia, the giants have been largely ignored (and often protected by law) as they herded mammoths throughout the province.
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 Mythic Era, the Dragon Priests of the Dragon Cult held roles on par with kings, but the Atmorans recognized relatively secular chieftains as their leaders. Ysgramor is the first known human ruler of Skyrim. His prodigy would continue to rule after his death; King Harald, the 13th of his line, is considered the first "historical" ruler. Since Harald's time or even before, the High King wore the Jagged Crown, though it was retired with King Borgas until recent times. High Kings after Harald include:
- Hjalmer (1E 221 - 1E 222)
- Vrage (1E 222 - 1E ?)
- Borgas (1E ? - 1E 369)
- Olaf One-Eye (1E 420 - 1E 452)
- Kjoric the White (1E ? - 1E 478)
- Hoag Merkiller (1E ? - 1E 480)
- Wulfharth (1E 480 - 533)
- Hale the Pious (1E ? - ?d)
- Freydis (2E ? - 2E ?)
- Jorunn the Skald-King
- Istlod (4E ? - 4E ?)
- Torygg (4E ? - 4E 201)
Many ancient Nordic ruins built into the mountains dating back to the Mythic and First eras remain standing throughout Skyrim. 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 above the wood. The Nords are known as masters of lumber construction, and these houses are essential to keep in heat in the freezing climate. Nordic designs are also seen in Bruma and Solstheim.
Skyrim's frigid environment still supports a great wealth of flora, notably its many pine forests. 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.
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. Slaughterfish and other types of fish glide through the rivers and lakes. Other common beasts roam the wilderness, and rumors abound of less common ones like werewolves and wispmothers. Many of them, such as hagravens and luna moths, yield body parts used in alchemy. Ice wraiths and other creatures are hunted in the mountains by young traditional Nords as rites of passage. Undead draugr still guard the ruins of the province. 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.
 See Also
- The Aetherium Wars by Taron Dreth — A treatise on the collapse of Dwemer city-states in Skyrim
- Amongst the Draugr by Bernadette Bantien, College of Winterhold — Discoveries about the draugr and their link to the dragon cults
- Annals of the Dragonguard by Brother Annulus — Chronicles of the Dragonguard in the late First Era
- Atlas of Dragons by Brother Mathnan — A glossary of Skyrim's dragons
- The Bear of Markarth by Arrianus Arius, Imperial Scholar — An account of Ulfric Stormcloak's short-lived independent reign over the Reach.
- Before the Ages of Man by Aicantar of Shimerene — Chronicles the major events of the Dawn and Merethic Eras
- The Betrayed by Engwe Emeloth — Translated from Falmer Text by Calcelmo of Markarth
- Biography of the Wolf Queen by Katar Eriphanes — A history of the unambiguously evil Queen Potema, the so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude
- Brief History of the Empire by Stronach k'Thojj III, Imperial Historian — A description of events in the history of the Empire
- Cats of Skyrim by Aldetuile — A brief treatise on the few felines that can be found in Skyrim.
- Children of the Sky — Description of the Nords
- The City of Stone by Amanda Alleia — A mercenary's guide to Markarth
- Deathbrand — A Pirate's Tale
- Dragon Language: Myth no More by Hela Thrice-Versed — A lengthy thesis on the ancient language of the dragons
- The Dragon War by Torhal Bjorik — A religious text describing the primordial war between men and dragons
- Dunmer of Skyrim by Athal Sarys — A proclamation of Dunmer supremacy in eastern Skyrim
- Dwemer Inquiries by Thelwe Ghelein, Scholar — A series of scholarly essays on the elusive Dwemer
- Fall from Glory by Nithilis Lidari — Theories on the weakening of the Skyrim Thieves Guild
- The Falmer: A Study by Ursa Uthrax — A study on Falmer, recounting their war with the Dwemer
- Five Songs of King Wulfharth — A summary of five epic songs of King Wulfharth, plus an apocryphal song of the Tribunal, Dagoth-Ur, and Indoril Nerevar
- Frontier, Conquest by University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344 — Details the presence of humans in Tamriel prior to the original Nordic conquests thought to bring humans to Tamriel
- A Gentleman's Guide to Whiterun by Mikael the Bard — A bard's description of life in the city of Whiterun
- Great Harbingers by Swyk the Long-Sighted — Chronicle of some of the leaders of the Companions
- Herbalist's Guide to Skyrim by Agneta Falia — A description of alchemy ingredients found in Tamriel's northernmost province, Skyrim.
- Herbane's Bestiary by Herbane — A guide to some of the creatures you may encounter while exploring Skyrim
- Holdings of Jarl Gjalund
- The Holds of Skyrim — The official guide of the Imperial Legion to Skyrim and its holds
- Imperial Report on Saarthal by Heseph Chirirnis — A report from a Mages Guild Scholar assigned to Imperial Archaeologist Sentius Floronius
- The Legendary Sancre Tor by Matera Chapel — An attempt to chronicle the rise and fall of Sancre Tor
- Lost Legends by Talsgar the Elder, Archivist of Winterhold — A collection of less well-known folk tales from Skyrim's past
- A Minor Maze — A brief history of Labyrinthian
- Night of Tears by Dranor Seleth — An inquiry into the cause of the Night of Tears
- Nords Arise! by Anonymous — Stormcloak's recruitment essay calling for rebellion against the Empire
- Nords of Skyrim by Hrothmund Wolf-Heart — An essay professing the finer qualities of Nords
- Notes on Yngol Barrow — A scholar's transcription of ancient Nord writings in a Skyrim barrow
- Of Crossed Daggers by Dwennon Wyndell — The story of Riften's fall from grace
- On the Great Collapse by Arch-Mage Deneth — A letter from the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold to the Jarl following the Great Collapse.
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition/Skyrim by Imperial Geographical Society
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition/Skyrim by Imperial Geographical Society
- Scourge of the Gray Quarter by Frilgeth Horse-Breaker — A complaint on the presence and behavior of the growing Dunmer population of Skyrim
- Shadowmarks by Delvin Mallory — A list of symbols members of the Thieves Guild leave behind for each other
- Skyrim's Rule by Abdul-Mujib Ababneh — A Redguard explains Skyrim's political system
- Songs of Skyrim: Revised by Giraud Gemaine, Historian of the Bards College, Solitude — A compilation of popular songs in Skyrim
- Songs of the Return — Parts of the traditional legend of Ysgramor and his Five Hundred Companions
- Varieties of Faith... by Brother Mikhael Karkuxor — An expansive list of the pantheons and associated divine spirits of Tamriel's dominant cultures.
- Walking the World, Vol XI by Spatior Munius — A comprehensive description of the city of Solitude
- Watcher of Stones by Gelyph Sig, Thane of Bjorin — Musings by the Thane of Bjorin about Guardian Stones
- The Windhelm Letters by Reylia — A series of letters written in the Second Era from a woman in Windhelm to her husband in Solitude
- The Wolf Queen by Waughin Jarth — The life story of Queen Potema
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- ^ Provinces of Tamriel
- ^ a b c d e Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Throat of the World: Skyrim — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- ^ a b c Skyrim's Rule:-An Outsider's View — Abdul-Mujib Ababneh
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Events of Skyrim.
- ^ a b Sybille Stentor's dialogue in Skyrim.
- ^ a b The Holds of Skyrim:
A Field Officer's Guide
For Use by Officers of the Imperial Legion
- ^ Children of the Sky
- ^ a b Loading screen in Skyrim.
- ^ a b Songs of the Return-Volume 7-The Tale of the Jorrvaskr
- ^ a b c Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation: A Social History of Cyrodiil — University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344
- ^ The Legendary City of Sancre Tor — Matera Chapel
- ^ The Aetherium Wars — Taron Dreth
- ^ a b The Falmer: A Study — Ursa Uthrax
- ^ The Infernal City — Greg Keyes
- ^ The Red Year — Melis Ravel
- ^ Dunmer of Skyrim — Athal Sarys
- ^ Nords Arise! — Anonymous
- ^ The Dragon War — Torhal Bjorik
- ^ Songs of the Return
- ^ The Anuad Paraphrased
- ^ 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.
- ^ 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.
- ^ a b c d Herbalist's guide to Skyrim — Agneta Falia
- ^ Horker Attacks — Heidmir Starkad
- ^ Lost Legends of Skyrim — Talsgar the Elder, Archivist of Winterhold
- ^ Herbane's Bestiary — Herbane
- ^ Amongst the Draugr — Bernadette Bantien, College of Winterhold
- ^ Dragon Language: Myth no More — Hela Thrice-Versed