Skyrim Quest Walkthrough: The Golden Claw


As you walk into the Riverwood Trader in the town of Riverwood, you witness Camilla and the shopkeeper having an argument. When you talk to the shopkeeper, Lucan Valerius, he tells you that he is having some problems with bandits who recently broke into his store. The robbers were seemingly interested in only one thing: an ornamental dragon claw made of solid gold.


Tell him you will attempt to track down the bandits and retrieve the claw for him. He has some coin coming in from a recent shipment and offers it to you as a reward if you recover the item.


He tells you that to find those bandits, you should head to Bleak Falls Barrow, a location to the  north west of town. Camilla offers herself as a guide, although Lucan insists she accompanies you no further than the edge of town.


Follow her to the the place at the edge of town, and after she departs, follow the sign posts or use the map to travel further up the mountain to Bleak Falls Barrow. Watch out for bandits on the way.


You eventually come to the old Nord tomb with bandits standing guard outside. There is a guard tower nearby with a chest of gold at the top of it. Somewhere in the area will be an arched door that leads down into Bleak Falls Temple. After entering the dungeon, you come first to a chamber in which two bandits standing around a campfire can be heard talking about a Dark Elf who headed down deep into the barrow a while ago. When you’re done with them, head down the stairs.


Pass by some spider webs and burial earns to come to a ceremonial entrance room. A closed portcullis blocks your path, and the lever nearby is currently inactive. In alcoves on the left wall are three short, three-sided stone pillars with animal carvings on them. Approach them and investigate and you’ll find they can be spun round to reveal each of their three sides and three animal carvings of a hawk, a whale and a snake.


You have to rotate these pillars so that the correct combination of symbols are showing in order to enable the lever that opens the portcullis. Clues to the correct combination can be found etched on carved stone heads elsewhere in the room: snake, snake, whale. Rotate the pillars to display those animals in that order, and use the lever to open the portcullis and continue into the dungeon. Don’t pull the lever for any other combination of symbols or you’ll set off a dart trap.


In the next room make sure you find the Thief book that will increase your pickpocket skill, then continue down the spiral stairway and you will eventually reach some thick cobwebs blocking your path. Cut  them down with your weapon and step into a room wherein lies a Giant Frostbite Spider. After it’s dead, walk over to the far wall to find a Dark Elf imprisoned within a web, but still alive and crying for help.


This is Arvel the Swift. Talk to him and he will ask you to cut him free. Ask him where the Golden Claw is. He says he has the claw on his person and talks about how it can  unlock a treasure chamber deeper in the dungeon called The Hall of Stories, and says he will show you how to do this if you release him. If you ask him to hand over the claw first, he says he can’t because he can’t move his hands. Cut him down with your weapon.


As soon as he’s free he runs off to get to the treasure first and claim it for himself. Chase him down, kill him and take the Golden Claw off his corpse.  You can also pick up his journal and read it for clues about the secrets of this dungeon. Your new objective, now that you have the claw, is to find the treasure within Bleak Falls Barrow.


Keep on heading through the dungeon, killing skeletons and anything else you encounter on your way. Be careful of a pressure pad on the floor that will trigger a swinging gate trap.


Eventually you will come to the illuminated entrance to Bleak Falls Sanctum. Open the sanctum doors and journey onward, fighting enemies along the way until you come to the iron door leading to the Hall of Stories. The hall is a long corridor  with intricate carvings adorning the walls on either side and an ornate door at the far end.


The locking mechanism on this door consists of a central keyhole surrounded by three discs that rotate when you activate them. Each disc has three animals plated into its surface. The idea is you rotate the discs to display a specific combination of images before inserting the Golden Claw into the central keyhole to unlock the door.


Examine the claw close up in your inventory to see the combination engraved upon it. Rotate the discs so that the bear, moth and owl appear on the outer, middle and inner rings respectively, then use the claw to open the door.


Note: If the glyphs are not rotating, reset the puzzle by going back out through the bridge and out of the door and then come right back in again. This should reset the puzzle and rings should turn again.


You are now in the barrow’s final chamber: some sort of ceremonial burial grotto with a great crypt at its center. Head over the the far wall and examine some glowing blue glyphs. They will say ”word of power, force unrelenting force”. Reading these glyphs will teach you one of the words of power that comprise the Dragon Shout ability Unrelenting Force. This ancient knowledge is the secret of Bleak Falls barrow.


As soon as you’re finished reading the glyphs on the wall, the crypt in the center of the chamber will open and a Draugr Lord will come forth and attack you. Kill this final guardian and loot his corpse to acquire an item called a Dragonstone, which you will need for one of the quests in the game’s Main Quest.


IMPORTANT: Do not leave this dungeon without the Dragonstone as you’ll only have to come back for it later if you do.


Climb the steps on the chamber’s left side and pull a handle to open a hidden door that leads out in Skyrim. Leave this dungeon, go back to Riverwood and return the Golden Claw to Lucan the shopkeeper. He’ll give you a reward of some gold coins.


57 Responses

  1. Miles says:

    I think it’s “Bleak Falls” not Black Falls.

  2. says:

    Oh yes so it is. I’ve corrected it now. Thank you.

  3. Jeremy says:

    What if you dont catch him? Does that mean I’m just stuck and have to start over??

  4. says:

    I assume you mean Arvel the Swift? As I understand it, if you don’t catch up with him and kill him, he gets killed trying to fight the first group of Draugr warriors he runs into after running away from you, and you can then just take the Golden Claw from his corpse.

  5. Rhys Griffiths says:

    actually if you keep following him he stops, turns around and tries to fight you (event though he has basically no hit points)

    • says:

      Really? Whenever I’ve done it and have let him run on ahead of me the Draugr have killed him. Perhaps he doesn’t turn and fight you unless you’re within a certain proximity to him?

      • Jonny says:

        I am not sure if this is true. I think that when you are cutting down the web that Arvel is stuck in, you might have also strikes Arvel as well, ‘provoking’ him to then retaliate and start fighting you. You only need 2 strikes to cut down the web.

  6. ryver says:

    whats the combination in the lastpart before you fight the draugr lord? i read the glyphs and nothing is there

    • says:

      This is the combination, just as it is engraved onto the Golden Claw itself, which by this point you should have in your inventory:

      Bear (top row)
      Butterfly (Middle row)
      Owl (Bottom Row)

      If you’re still stuck see this video.

  7. vee says:

    glyphs will not turn even after reset I have tried repeatedly what should i do?

    • Tazzy says:

      I’m having a similar problem. After several restarts, I still cant get the pilars/glyphs to rotate. Can’t believe a brand new game would have a glitch like that right off the bat.

  8. Adventure on Meth says:

    yo, i gots a quickie..

    i did this quest and all that, happy ending, BUT i then stole the claw again from the dealer, but got myself cought later in the game by a guard. i chose to pay the penalty, he took the stupid 2 gold coins but he also took the CLAW since it was reported stolen…
    this would all be fine, if i could steal it again.. where is it now, if not by the soldier or the dealer..

    please help me with this..

    signed, ThePoiPoi

    • e3o says:


      I don’t think it will appear again anywhere but I also don’t know for sure, but I’ve killed all the people in Riverwood (except the cannot die npc) when i was doing the 7th Main Quest: A Blade In The Dark, because I was a vampire… at first I didn’t realize that this vampire sick will bring me any trouble, but suddenly when I arrived at Riverwood, everyone and the guards pull out their sword and I figured “What the hell!?”, at first I thought it was a part of the main story, but I’ve already saved my game before I realize that it was because I was a vampire….

      Now I’m doing the side quest mission for curing vampirism, but I don’t know what time should I wait at the place, can anyone help…

    • JB says:

      in the guards barracks there should be an evidence chest beside your personal item chest where your stuff goes when your in jail, check there

  9. Bob says:

    What is a strategy to kill the draugr? Please I’m really stuck!

    • ryan says:

      Use fire on them its like their weakness.

      • JB says:

        Silver weapons are VERY effective against the undead

      • bruce says:

        I can’t seem to kill the big bad Draugr to get the Dragonstone. I try to use fire, but keep running out of Magic force, and by the time it recharges, he owns me…Any suggestions?

        • Luther says:

          Use the incline on the side of the raise section with the tomb. Jump up and down it so he has to run around to get to you.

        • blackrose says:

          lol if you are to stuck try turning the settings down to novice you can always turn it back up later
          it is in your gameplay setting i belive but not sure it been a few days since i have played

  10. Incredible doper says:

    Use fire.

  11. Ashlie says:

    What level should I be before I attempt this quest?

    • says:

      This quest was designed for early levels. For many its the first dungeon they go to after the bit in the Keep at the start. Attempt it whatever level you’re at. You can find followers in the town of Riverwood to take with you in case you need some support.

  12. lewisnorthfield says:

    yeah… i used a carriage to visit most of the cities. i didnt do bleak falls barrow but i paid a guy 500 coins to help. is this bad?

    • Luther says:

      Hiring a follower is fine, although I find it’s better and cheaper to help someone so they follow you rather than paying them. When you get to a point like my character where you have tens of thousands of gold and nothing to spend it on then you could hire them but I wouldn’t advise wasting money on them. It’s much better and probably easier to get a housecarl.

  13. LukeSummers says:

    Hi, I killed the overlord at the end of the dungeon, and for some reason I cannot loot the corpse – I assume it is supposed to bring up the option of ‘Press X to search body’ but there is no such option – or am I being stupid and is there another way to loot?

    • LukeSummers says:

      I have found out that this bug occurs if the dragur can’t see the player as it emerges from the crypt, and the way to solve it is to revert to a previous save – however, I first retrieved the golden claw and left the crypt having killed the dragur and not retrieving the dragonstone, meaning there are several saves, none of them prior to me opening the crypt – has anyone got any ideas of how I can correct this, or do I have to start over?

  14. Dillon says:

    The corpse disappeared… Any ideas on what to do?

  15. Vlad Taltos says:

    I was poisoned by the spider guarding the dark elf thief,and I don’t know how to cure myself of the poison. Please give me some help,as my character moves very slow due to the poisoning. Haven’t found a merchant who sells a potion to cure poison. Is there such a potion or a way to find a cure?????

  16. walo1971 says:

    does anyone know the sequence off the pillar in find queens freydis sword inside ansilvund

  17. Kilayne says:

    visit Whiterun, go to the temple and activate the temple stone to cure disease – think this may also work for spider poisoning

  18. kevo says:

    I can’t keep going..I have the claw and have made it to where the waterfall is but can’t find another way to go…need help

  19. Curtis Clayton says:

    nice one dude had real trouble with the puzzle door, was ever so reluctant to cheat lol

  20. ronny joris says:

    ik ben bezig met de afdeling Kill Lu’ah Al-Skaven in Ansilvund maar ik vind de combinatie niet van de pillars om het hek open te krijgen…kan u mij helpen?

    • Luther says:

      Het spijt me, we zijn slechts een Engels website en ik heb niet genoeg kennis van het Nederlands om je vraag te beantwoorden. Stel uw vraag in het Engels of zoek een vertaler.

  21. Austin says:

    Is a good weapon to use a iron battle axe?I used it through the whole level and it worked good.I strong attacked once the did it again and they died after a schematic.

  22. Obsidianraven says:

    Heya, just something I noticed when doing this quest, sometimes after I cut swift down I was unable to run after him as if the doorway was still blocked. The way I over came this was exsiting and reentering the place. Hope this helps

  23. ep says:

    If I go through without getting the dragonstone, do I have to go through the whole thing again?

  24. Sarah says:

    I got to the end of the dungeon… to the point where you have to rotate the story and I have the correct combination but for some reason it won’t let me use the claw to unlock the door :/ The only thing I can do is rotate the puzzle….I have also noticed that when I get to a certain part of the maze my TV screen(game related?)starts flashing blue like lightning and won’t stop…I can’t figure out why this is but I’m starting to get a head ache…. I activated the quest and went to the next town and got the official quest to find the dragon stone. I think I killed all the bandits outside…Rescued and killed the bandit inside and stole back the claw and journal and had no problem with the other puzzle but now the door refuses to open….I don’t get the message “Insert Key/claw” or whatever message you are supposed to get and the door doesn’t seem to acknowledge the correct combination. Like in a video I saw it showed the lock clicking or in some for acknowledging the code but it won’t work for me :/

  25. steven says:

    It took me over an hour to fibd this freaking guy with the claw cuz i let him run off…ive been circling thesr tombs for ever…only to find ive ran past him at least 10 times. He was against a pillar looking like the swinging spike door had got him. Im so upset rigjt now im about to just quit playing

    • bret says:

      your lucky you found him. ive been running around all over this place in every corner and crack and cant find the guy dead or alive…… he disappeared

  26. Lovely Wood says:

    it seems that when i went after the guy with the golden claw he went around the spike moving wall…. how do i deal with this problem?

  27. Amy says:

    How do I go back to get the dragonstone? I just exited Bleak Falls without it!

    • says:

      Just go back to the front entrance of the dungeon, go inside, proceed to where the Dragonstone lies, pick it up, then exit out the back entrance next to the boss chamber like you did the first time. You should still be able to find the front entrance to the dungeon using the marker on your map.

  28. Will says:

    The pillars won’t turn in for me!

  29. Will says:

    The pillars won’t turn in for me! Help!

  30. Ryan says:

    AHHHH! i think my game glitched.. because there is no corpes of the Draugr King for me to loot, only the objective marker.. does this mean i have to start the game over? or is there some way to restart the quest?

  31. Adam says:

    When cutting down the guy from the web just use fire, and fry him alive in the process. This keeps you from having to chase after him later.

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