Skyrim Quest Walkthrough: Elder Knowledge


An Elder Scroll will hold the knowledge Paarthurnax requires in order to send you back in time to learn the Dragonrend shout from the ancient Nords who used it to vanquish Alduin thousands of years ago. He doesn’t know where to find one, but suggests some people who might.


Go and ask either Arngeir the Greybeard monk or Esbern the Blade archivist where you might find an Elder Scroll. Both will point you in the same direction: to the College of Winterhold. Travel to the city of Winterhold when you are ready to continue with this quest.


When you get to the entrance to the college, the mage standing guard at the entrance will ask you to demonstrate your magical power by casting a magic spell. You can oblige her if you want, or you can tell her you’re a dragonborn and demonstrate one of your shouts, which will result in her granting you admittance to the college.


Once inside the college, speak with the librarian, an Orc named Urag gro-Shub, who tells you of a man who knows much about the Elder Scrolls. Travel north to find Septimus Signus at his outpost, using your map to guide you. He will tell that an Elder Scroll can be found within an ancient, Dwemer ruin, and give you two items which will function as keys later on.


The Dwemer ruin Septimus spoke of is known as Alftand. It is a very large complex that is also the gateway to Blackreach,  a tremendous underground cavern. There are many side objectives within Blackreach, so this quest can be quite a lengthy one.


Within Alftand and Blackreach you will face two particularly dangerous enemies: Steam Centurions and Falmer.  Steam Centurions are the most powerful of the Dwemer constructs, and were designed in the form of a large armored warrior, with a hammer on one arm and a spring-loaded spike in the other, and they can vent superheated steam at a distance. Falmer are the near-mythical Snow Elves, once thought to have been hunted to extinction by the ancestors of the Nords. They now live deep underground and have devolved into primitive, disfigured, violent remnants of their former selves. Both of these enemies are capable of making this quest nigh-impossible if adequate preparations are not made.


The easiest way to attack this lengthy and troublesome mission is to prepare yourself for a multitude of difficult battles. So make sure you’re well stocked on food, potions, scrolls, and anything else you think you’ll need. Also buy any spells that look useful from the wizards in the college before you depart (the Clairvoyance spell can come in handy when navigating Blackreach). Definitely take a follower with you.


First, you must make your way through Alftand. It is a large dungeon with a lot of fighting, but it will always be evident where you have to go. Eventually you will come to a door, which you will walk out of to encounter a small group of Falmer. Kill the Falmer, and on each side of you will be two staircases. Walk up the staircase, and you will find a lever which controls the gate below.


On the other side of the gate you will find a Dwarven Centurion, which can prove to be a challenge to low/mid level characters. After you destroy it, proceed up some more stairs where you will encounter two people who will attack you. It is possible to have these two people attack each other AND the centurion. They will finish of the centurion together, then fight each other to the death, leaving you can kill whichever one is left. You can alternatively use the sphere given to you by Septimus Signus on a mysterious table to reveal another staircase which allows you to avoid the two people.


Finally, you will arrive in the vast underground cavern of Blackreach. This is a very difficult place to get through if you’re at a low level. There are many Falmer and Dwemer robotics. A quest marker will be present on your map, and it will look like it’s telling you to visit a mountain range, but Blackreach is VERY LARGE. The marker is IN Blackreach. It will take a while for you to trudge your way through. Follow the cobblestone path to the right. If you’re looking to avoid confrontations with enemies, avoid the buildings, as they seem to contain the greatest concentrations of enemies here.


When you reach the marker, you will find the Tower of Mzark, which seems to be some sort of an observatory. Look around the big Dwemer containment structure to find a little podium with buttons on it. The order in which the buttons need to be pressed seems to be different for everyone, but it will often work to do this: press the third button (assume they are numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4 from left to right) until the second button lights up. Then continue to press the second button until the first lights up. Press the first, and the Elder Scroll will be revealed (if that process doesn’t work, just play with the buttons until you get it right. It sometimes takes only five minutes to figure out the combination). Pick up the transcribed Lexicon and the Elder Scroll. Now use the elevator-like structure to get out of Blackreach.


WARNING: Attempting to read the Elder Scroll will inflict temporary blindless upon your character.


Take the Elder Scroll to Paarthurnax atop the Throat of the World when you’re ready to proceed with the quest.


42 Responses

  1. jon says:

    if you’re in the middle of the staff of magnus mission you can not continue with the main mission.

  2. jon says:

    If your in the middle of the staff of magnus mission you cannot continue with the main mission

  3. Noah says:

    Im confused, Im at the “Observatory” right now and for some reason, I can only press 2/4 of the buttons. Any help?

    • jim says:

      press the button closest to the center until the 2nd to the left button lights up, and then do the same until the farthest left button lights up.

      • Aerion of truefeather says:

        this all helped i did as instructed, but nothing happened and ive learned to stick around and try other things and look at everything and press everything in case i missed something, so i reloaded the point at were im gonna press buttons and once again followed the main instructions above, and after i pressed no.2 button no.1 button lights make sure you press no.1 button to get the machine to lower the scroll for you, i think i even pressed it twice (cant quite remember) but the above instructions work cheers guys.

  4. kurtis says:

    i did it all with no problem, got the elder scroll, tried to read it… i went blind… now im not blind but when i use the elevator i see outside, but i cannot get out of the elevator, what happened??

  5. Derek Quinn says:

    I am at black reach – I killed everything but I find myself walking around circles – can anyone help??
    Thanks Derek

    • Luther says:

      You need to head for the Tower of Mzark. There should be a quest marker to take you there, if there isn’t search the wiki for: Tower of Mzark. It should help you find it.

  6. Blake says:

    Do you know if there are 2 Elder Scrolls. I had the librarian tell me were there was an Elder Scroll for the Discerning the Transmudane quest. If I go back to the Tower of Mzark, will there be another scroll.

    • Bambam620 says:

      The ‘Discerning Quest’ and the Elder Scroll Quest are concurrent…Bring the Lexicon with you (you get from Septis) and place it on the holder before you ‘push the buttons’…When you retrieve the Elder Scroll, your Lexicon has been transformed slightly…Remove it from the holder and proceed…

  7. Heather says:

    Help, i can’t get any of the buttons at the observatory to work

  8. Chad says:

    I go to the librarian in Winterhold who has the white marker above him and there is no option to proceed in the mission. I have completed the staff of magnus mission for the college already. Im not sure what I am missing. Any ideas?

    • Luther says:

      Go to the tower of mzark if you have already done the Ohgma infinium quest and collect the scroll from the observatory. If not go to where the scholar is north of Winterhold College.

  9. steve says:

    I get the dagnambed Lexicon but every time I try to return to Skyrim by pulling the lever the game locks up. Anyone know of a patch for this issue.

  10. Shirin says:

    I am in Alftand and the white arrow is right in front of me but I am facing a rock wall! The elevator to the glacial ruins is not far off so where the heck is this thing?

    • Luther says:

      Follow the glacial ruins to the end and you will find another elevator where their is a lever in the center of the floor. This will take you to the route to Blackreach.

  11. Hochspitz says:

    Once reaching Blackreath, it is very useful to straight away (after activating the bow machine) to head west, push button which allows you discover the Great Lift at Alfland. An easy way to go home and replenish supplies and be able to return at any time.
    Beware, though, there is an Elder dragon and a giant. Either kill, or sneak far away enough to be able to fast travel.

    • Nate says:

      Were you able to beat the elder dragon? Any helpful hints or suggestions?

      • d.k says:

        If u have trouble killing dragons go to sky haven temple and look for the room that has the blades katana’s on the wall that room should have a table with the Sword dragon bane which deals extra damage to dragons and deals shock damage to all other targets, it may give you the edge you need, there is also blades armor in the chest

  12. randy says:

    i’m at the controls,the cube is installed.but only the lights on the right are lite up.2hat do i do

    • garybutler77 says:

      Same here. Im totaly stuck with only two buttons on the right to use.

    • bambam620 says:

      Face the buttons…The Third one from the left (they are kinda seperated by something that isn’t a button) is the one you push first…When you push it, the thingee in the background moves a little…Keep pushing that third button a few times (It took me four or five times) until the button SECOND from the left lights up (actually it opens up so you can see more of it)…Now, push this button a few times until the FIRST button ‘lights up’…Push this button (I think I only had to push this one once), and the thingee in the background lowers and opens up, revealing the scrool…Walk back down and retrieve the scroll from the holder…Don’t forget to go back up and get your Lexicon off of its holder…Now go back down again to the exit…

  13. Hakim says:

    is it easy to fight steam centurions at level 23?

  14. Fus-Ray-Dah says:

    Omg me too!! Someone help!! Bug maybe??

  15. Fus-Ray-Dah says:

    Same prob as randy I meant

  16. leonardo says:

    you just need to press the third button from left on and on until the first button from the left uncovers, then press it. after that second button from left will uncover and you’ll press it

  17. Roach says:

    “Travel north to find Septimus Signus at his outpost, using your map to guide you”

    duh…im noob… do you have to do this underground?
    Or do i have to go to the town and go around the school to get to that north marker?

  18. miles says:

    okay i obviously have the lexicon but only the right 2 buttons are active im lost on where to get the orb “i think i need” for the other side…am i off track or just confused on what to do?
    i have have 2 attunement spheres but they dont apparently go to this machine to retrieve the elder scroll…

  19. Jerry says:

    Okay so I’m at Alftand however the arrow is on a rock of ice and when I go to the elavator I cannot open the door to use the damn thing, what’s the go?

    • Faustino says:

      Jerry, I hope you’ve moved on since October, if not, head down the walkways to find an entry below. You can only open the elevator door from the inside.

  20. Daver says:

    Big problem! I picked up the Inscribed Lexicon and then continued the quest to get the Ohgma Infinium, but didn’t know to look for the Elder Scroll when retrieving the Lexicon. So I went back to White Run and had some more adventures. Only later did I learn I should of got the Elder Scroll back at the tower and came back to the tower Mzark. I returned but no longer have the Lexicon (it was taken by ). So now I can’t reactivate the the gizmo to reveal the Elder Scroll. Are they gone. Hidden? I just don’t see them? Or are they no longer retrievable because I didn’t see them with I took the inscribed Lexicon? Any tips?

  21. Faustino says:

    Hi. At the end, the inscribed Lexicon appears, but there’s no sign of the Elder Scroll. I’ve tried pressing various buttons. I’m prompted to pick up the Lexicon, after which the buttons don’t work. Where does the scroll appear? Below the Lexicon? With the Lexicon? After it? I took the Lex to Septimus, but have a saved game in the Tower before pressing any buttons, I’ve gone back and tried again with no success. Thanks.

  22. Kyle says:

    Mine doesnt show the mission marker right ive looked on youtube and everyone elses is right, mine points at the lexicon and stays there and the buttons dont do anything, ive tried to load and it doesnt work.

  23. 123456789 says:

    I finished throat of the world,then I went to talk to Arngier, and all the Graybeards want to kill me. I left to go back out in the world, and now everybody wants to kill me! What’s up with that?

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