Skyrim:Castle Volkihar

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This article is about the dungeon portions of Castle Volkihar which contain enemies. For the portion of the castle inhabited by the Volkihar vampire clan, see Volkihar Keep.

Castle Volkihar
(view on map) (lore page)
Added by Add-On Dawnguard
# of Zones 4
Clearable No
Respawn Time 10 days
Level Min: 10
Death Hounds, Feral Vampire, Frostbite Spiders, Gargoyles, Skeevers, Skeletons
Important Treasure
The Aetherium Wars
De Rerum Dirennis
A Hypothetical Treachery
The Red Kitchen Reader
Vampire Royal Armor
Console Location Code(s)
DLC1VampireCastleDungeon01, DLC1VampireCastleDungeon02, DLC1VampireCastleZCell1, DLC1VampireCastleZCell2
Northwest of Solitude
Special Features
# of Alchemy Labs 3
# of Arcane Enchanters 1
# of Cooking Pots/Spits 1
Castle Volkihar

Castle Volkihar is a large fortress on an island far west of Solitude, north-northwest of Northwatch Keep. The dungeon portions of the castle, which contain enemies, include four zones: Volkihar Undercroft, Volkihar East Tower, Volkihar North Tower, and Volkihar Ruins.

Though you can travel to the island immediately upon installing Dawnguard, the dungeon areas of the castle are initially inaccessible. You must progress far enough in Dawnguard's main questline to gain access to these parts of the castle. From Castle Volkihar's fast travel arrival point, make your way along the shore to the left of the fortress to find the exterior of the Undercroft. You'll find an inlet on the northern side of the island which is obviously unused by the current inhabitants of Volkihar Keep.

[edit] Related Quests

[edit] Exterior

Undercroft Exterior

You'll find an abandoned dock with some small wrecked ships and crumbling ruins around the area. Up the stairs, there are four skeletons patrolling along the high ground. These skeletons carry tempered weapons, and are much stronger than regular skeletons. Deep below the harbor is a sunken ship with a chest which contains gold and occasionally gems. You will need to use a waterbreathing effect, via potion or enchantment, to reach it. Make your way to the very top steps for the entrance to Volkihar Undercroft, which becomes unlocked during Chasing Echoes.

[edit] Volkihar Undercroft

Volkihar Undercroft
Entrance at Castle Volkihar
Exit to Volkihar Courtyard
Volkihar Undercroft

Upon entering (at door A on the map), you are greeted immediately with a skeever. Make your way past it and pick up some loose gold pieces from the floor. Turn around the corner to see two wooden doors to the north. The one on the right opens to a small balcony which can be used for stealth attacks on those in the room below. Open the larger door on the left to enter the large room consisting of two paths on either side of the collected water, once used as a water cistern. Fight the five death hounds scattered around the room, as well as their feral vampire leader (she does not respawn after your first time through).

After dealing with them, cross to the east side of the room for some coffins containing minor loot in the corner and a trapped chest in an alcove along the wall. The path to the west is barred by a closed drawbridge, so head up the stairs to the north, and turn the corner to find an alchemy lab ahead on the left, along with a pair of vampire gauntlets and a few ingredients and potions on the shelves to the right. The room ahead contains a copy of the Destruction skill book A Hypothetical Treachery as well as a copy of The Aetherium Wars. Grab the coin purse on the shelf to the left of the standing coffin, and use the lever to the south to drop the draw-bridge needed to continue on. Go back down the stairs and enter the area to the west which is now accessible.

You'll find yourself at a four-way intersection. Only the left and right forks are accessible at first, and if Serana is with you she will tell you to take the left. If you veer to the right path instead, you'll find a skeleton and a skeever, as well as some bear traps and the ramp leading up from the spike-trapped water below the bridges if you happen to fall. Continuing on to the path on the left from the intersection, you will pass three hanging spike traps that cause damage if touched before coming to a room littered with piles of bones, containing three more death hounds. Take care of them and continue up the stairs to find a couple wardrobes with some low-level potions and poisons, two salt piles, and leather strips on top.

Make your way through the tunnel ahead to find yourself blocked off by some spiderwebs. Clearing the webs on the right will uncover a locked chest, and the webs ahead will lead to a room guarded by a giant frostbite spider. Pull the lever ahead to lower the second drawbridge at the four-way intersection from before. If you open the wooden door on the west side of this room, you'll find yourself on a ledge overlooking the room littered with bones. With at least two words of Whirlwind Sprint or using the Vampire Lord Bats ability, you can cross the gap in front of you, where you'll find a skeleton and two coin purses, as well as a chest to the far end. Without using the shout, you can drop down to the room and jump to reach the chest by looking through the lattice of the railing. Either way, backtrack to the four-way intersection and use the newly dropped bridge to make your way to a door leading to the Volkihar Courtyard.

[edit] Volkihar East Tower

Volkihar East Tower
Door: Volkihar Courtyard
Volkihar East Tower

From Volkihar Courtyard, you can access Volkihar East Tower by climbing up some steps to the eastern door. It consists of only one room filled with rubble, crushed skeletons, and no enemies. At the very top of the steps at the northernmost stairs, a skeleton can be found crushed below some rubble, with various gems and gold littering the ground and steps in front of his hand, as if fallen or thrown at the time of his death. From the bottom of these steps, look behind the rubble to the west for a chest with minor loot. There is nothing else of note in this tower.

[edit] Volkihar North Tower

Volkihar North Tower
Door: Volkihar Courtyard
Volkihar North Tower

Volkihar North Tower is the larger of the two towers in Volkihar Courtyard, accessed via the door atop a set of steps on the north side. Proceeding straight from the door will lead to a small ledge overlooking the main room which can be easily used for stealth attacks on the enemies below. Take the stairs to the east which lead down to a small room containing one skeleton, and continue to the main room to fight two more, plus a gargoyle which awakens when it detects you. Along the west wall to the right of the fireplace is a set of shelves containing a loose gem, and a chest with some minor loot can be found in the northeast corner. Up the steps to the far north, you'll find a locked chest on the back wall. Head back to the smaller room to the east to unlock a wooden door and grab two gold ingots, a gem, and an unenchanted necklace held by a skeletal hand. If you return to the ledge overlooking the main room, you can reach an alcove to the immediate left with one word of the Whirlwind Sprint shout or using the Vampire Lord Bats ability to loot another chest amongst the rubble. There is nothing else of note in this tower.

[edit] Volkihar Ruins

Volkihar Ruins
Door from Volkihar Courtyard
Valerica's Study
Door to Volkihar Balcony
Volkihar Ruins

Volkihar Ruins cannot be accessed until you complete the moondial puzzle in Volkihar Courtyard during Chasing Echoes (see quest page for details). The door from the courtyard can be found by taking the spiral stairway at the moondial itself. Upon entering (at door A on the map), climb the steps to the dead end ahead and grab the two coin purses on the shelves to your right. You'll need to use the pull chain on the left wall in order to raise the false door in front of you. This will lead to a kitchen-like room containing only some minor ingredients and a cooking pot. Take the east staircase and open the wooden door to find a large dining room containing several skeletons. They are initially sitting around the table, but will awaken when you are detected, so fight your way through them. There is nothing notable up the stairs to the north, so take the stairs at the south end instead.

Continue straight ahead through some cobwebs, and fight the gargoyle at the end of the following room, avoiding the spike-lines along the way. The hallway to the east is a dead end, so take the hallway to the right, grabbing the leather strips from the nearby table just before opening the wooden door. Continue through to fight a couple skeletons in the next room, and open the locked wooden door on the left which leads to a small closet containing some loose gold coins, a couple lockpicks, a soul gem, and some leather strips, as well as the coin purse hidden inside a cast iron pot. Proceed up the heavily lit stairwell leading southeast and defend yourself against a gargoyle and a skeleton archer before grabbing a sapphire, some loose gold coins, and a potion from the table directly across from the gargoyle's corner. Head up the stairs and turn the corner to find a staircase and locked wooden door ahead. Behind the door is a small ledge overlooking the room you just left with a chest containing leveled loot. Take the stairway up to a small room with a desk and bookshelf holding nothing but some low-value books and a piece of leather. Open the door and take care of the two skeletons in the following hallway, which contains two long narrow chests on the wall to the right. Head up the stairs to find yourself overlooking another dining room, smaller than the last. Cross the dining room and climb to the room at the other side to fight three more skeletons and another gargoyle. You'll find yourself cut off by a portcullis, so use the pull chain on the southeast wall to raise it and continue through. Head up the crumbling stairway, taking care of a skeleton along the way and the gargoyle at the top.

Choose between taking the locked door ahead or using the pull chain to open the gate directly across from the gargoyle; you'll eventually end up in the same place regardless of your choice. If you go through the gate, you'll have to backtrack to gain access to the other path, so go through the door for full exploration. You'll find yourself in an armory containing several ancient Nord weapons, a few enchanted leveled weapons, and four minor potions. Raise the gate at the end of the room using the pull chain nearby to find yourself in the upper area overlooking a large chapel room in ruins. If you had taken the gate, you would have immediately entered the lower chapel area. Either way, there are several skeleton enemies on both levels of this area, so take care of them. Use caution, as some of these skeletons may be hidden around corners or on the other level, out of your line of sight. Using stealth, you may be able to bypass many of the skeletons below, though there is a chest down to the southeast, behind a divided wall next to a fallen statue. When you're done here, cross the bridge that spans above the chapel to continue to the next area.

Through yet another door is a room containing some skeletal remains on a table in the center, a chest on the southwest wall, and a potion on the northwest wall. The next two doors lead to the main gargoyle hall. Once here, three gargoyles will awaken intermittently. If dispatched quickly, you can fight them individually, but they can easily gang up on you. After defeating the gargoyles, grab some minor loot from the center table, and the set of royal vampire armor sitting on a wardrobe to the south between two standing coffins in the corner. To the southeast, you'll see a draft coming from the ground beneath two candlesticks on either side of the wall ahead. Activate the candlestick to the left to raise the fake wall, and follow through here past a winding staircase, eventually leading to Valerica's Study (point B on the map).

[edit] Valerica's Study

Valerica's study is a large room containing two levels, with a large circular space in the center surrounded by candles (opens up as a portal to the Soul Cairn during Chasing Echoes). After the death of Lord Harkon, Valerica will again take up residence here if you inform her of his demise.

The lower level includes an alcove to the southwest used as a small library. The bookshelves contain many ruined and low-value books, as well as Valerica's journal. On the wall to the left of this alcove is a table holding an alchemy lab, two samples of bone meal, some finely ground bone meal, and a dragon bone (the only location in the game where you can find a dragon bone without first killing a dragon). On the shelves to the northeast of the lower level, you'll find many alchemy ingredients, including a sample of Berit's ashes and a daedra heart; other ingredients are listed below. You can also find the Alchemy skill book De Rerum Dirennis, the Sneak skill book The Red Kitchen Reader, and two lockpicks. On the southeast wall, there are two long, narrow chests on either side of a table which hold some soul gem fragments and a dagger.

Lower Level Ingredients (one sample unless otherwise noted)

Head up to the upper level via some stairs on the southeast wall to find five soul gems (two black), some soul gem shards, and a number of soul gem fragments. Continue up the steps for another alchemy lab in the east corner and an arcane enchanter in the north corner. There are many ingredients on the upper level as well, lining shelves and tables on the northeast and northwest walls, plus two potions. The ingredients found here include one each of the rare small pearl and pearl; other ingredients are listed below. Also on the upper level is a small balcony with a "portal vessel" used during the Chasing Echoes quest. When the portal to the Soul Cairn opens up, stairs will lead down from this balcony to the portal at the center of the room. The portal remains open permanently after it is initially opened up.

Upper Level Ingredients (one sample unless otherwise noted)

Finally, the door on the southwest corner of Valerica's study (point C on the map) leads to "Castle Volkihar Balcony", which is added to your in-game map as a fast-travel point during your first time through. This allows quick access to the room, as well as the Soul Cairn. After Valerica's return, a potion of blood will be available on the upper level desk.

[edit] Notes

  • After completing Dawnguard's main questline on the Volkihar side, it is possible to repair the path to the Volkihar Courtyard inside Volkihar Keep by talking to Garan Marethi. This repair is free of charge and adds a convenient entrance door to the courtyard for quicker access to all dungeon locations.
  • The vampire royal armor that is located in the room with the three gargoyles in Volkihar Ruins is one of the few places that this armor can be obtained, and since this area respawns, this is the only location where you can get multiple copies of this rare and valuable armor.[verification needed — Is this really the only location where it respawns?]
  • If the Dawnguard eradicate the vampires who control the castle, picking up any items in the castle will still count as stealing.

[edit] Bugs

  • If you return to Volkihar Ruins via the courtyard entrance and pull the very first chain again, the door will close with no way of re-opening it except by reloading a previous save or exiting/entering the area.

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