Most dungeons in Skyrim are pretty long affairs. There are traps, a puzzle or two, a substantial amount of enemies to put down, followed by a big boss fight at the end. But some dungeons are short, sweet, and to the point. One such dungeon is Yngol Barrow.
Resting place to the eldest son of Ysgramor, Yngol slumbers alone. There will be no draugr minions impeding your way through this crypt and to its’ prize. But don’t think that this means it will be an easy score. Yngol doesn’t take kindly to visitors, and the son of one of Man’s most legendary heroes is not someone you should take lightly.
If you have the courage, step inside Yngol’s Barrow and search for the treasure within.
- Level 20+
- Companion and summoned minion (Ideally Flame Atronach)
- Bow and arrows or ranged spells
Ashore in a Sea of Ghosts
For whatever reason, the game doesn’t even mark the quest related to Yngol Barrow as a miscellaneous quest. Regardless, it’s still a quest you can complete, and a simple one at that. Enter, explore Yngol Barrow, and leave with your life.
The Helm of Winterhold
Jarl Korir of Winterhold wants you to acquire the ancient Helm of Winterhold so that he may bolster his reputation amongst the leaders of the other Holds. Ygnol Barrow is one of the possible locations you may visit to retrieve the helm.
Rings of Blood Magic
If you have gone down a particular path during the Dawnguard storyline, you will have the opportunity to complete the Rings of Blood Magic sidequest and earn two powerful rings. These rings will be in random locations, one of which may be Ygnol Barrow.
Another Dawnguard sidequest that may send you to Yngol Barrow is Ancient Power. But instead of looking for enchanted rings, you’ll be looking for vampire remains.
Fetch Me That Book!
Resident College of Winterhold librarian Urag gro-Shub will send you to dozens of possible locations to retrieve books to add to the College’s collection. Yngol Barrow may be one of them.
- Helm of Yngol
- Ebony weapon (Potentially)
- Song of Hrormir (Two-Handed skill book)
- Hanging moss
- Notes On Yngol Barrow
Yngol Barrow is a moderate distance northeast of Windhelm. You can get there by traveling from Windhelm Stables.
Getting to Yngol Barrow
Fast-travel to Windhelm, then head out front to the stables. Take the path left from there and start hiking.
Along the way, you will pass several farms. I highly recommend that you stop in and harvest the wheat, snowberries, and chicken eggs that you find here. There will also be a ton of snowberries along the path to the Barrow. You should make out with 25 wheat and 50+ snowberries by the end of this quest (If you don’t have the Green Thumb perk).
Soon after passing the third farm, you’ll come across an intersection where you can see the Barrow’s symbol on the compass due north from here. You may or may not run into a snow bear in this area, but this will likely be the only hostile you meet on the way. Take the left road and follow it down to the beach. Yngol Barrow will be on your right.
You can see that some offerings and a copy of Yngol and the Sea-Ghosts were left outside. Read this book if you want to learn about Yngol’s unfortunate fate.
Prepare yourself before making your way inside the Barrow.
The Puzzle of Yngol Barrow
As soon as you step inside Yngol Barrow, you’ll notice that this isn’t your average Nordic ruin. Half of it is your standard icy cavern. I hope you packed your mittens.
Make your way deeper into the Barrow, and soon a mysterious ball of light will pop out of one of the coffins and begin to follow you. You will accumulate more and more of these “followers” as you progress through Yngol Barrow. Don’t worry; they’re noisy but harmless.
Eventually, you’ll stumble into a room with several animal emblem pillars in each corner. You know what that means; time for a puzzle.
Loot the body of the unfortunate scholar up ahead and read his book Notes On Yngol Barrow. One of the last pages will give you hints on how to solve the puzzle:
Man in his throne, so should he be
Whale in the sea, so should he be
Eagle in Sun’s Sky, so should he be
Snake in the weed, so should he be
The trick to solving this puzzle is paying attention to the environment, not the pillars themselves.
The bottom left pillar has light shining above, symbolizing the eagle in the sky.
The top left pillar is surrounded by grass, symbolizing the snake in the weed.
The top right pillar has a pseudo-waterfall behind it, symbolizing the whale in the sea.
And last but not least, the skeleton on the throne represents the man in his throne.
Pull the lever after setting the pillars to their proper animals, and the gate will open. If you put in the incorrect code, the slowest poison dart trap in history will activate (And never stop).
Before we go further, there’s one item that needs addressing.
The Coral Dragon Claw
To reach the end of Yngol’s Barrow, you first need to get your hands on the Coral Dragon Claw. There are two ways of obtaining it:
Speak with Birna in Winterhold
Head inside Birna’s Oddments and speak with the shopkeeper Birna. Ask her if she gets much business out here, and listen to her tell her story and how she only got a few bad deals.
Ask her about it, and she will tell you about the seemingly useless Coral Dragon Claw she bought from a traveler. She tells you that the person she bought it from said it would be worth a fortune to whoever returned it to Yngol Barrow. Birna doesn’t have a death wish, so she never tried.
Birna has no use for the claw and offers to sell it for 50 gold. Speaking with her about it also marks Yngol Barrow on your map. Birna also asks you to let her know if the claw ends up actually being worth something.
Head Straight For Yngol Barrow
Visiting Birna is optional, and you can go straight to Yngol Barrow instead. If you do this, then a Coral Dragon Claw will be on a pedestal behind the gate you just unlocked.
Be advised that if you go down this route or come here when a radiant quest is active, Yngol’s Shade will not be here. Instead, the final boss will be a draugr death overlord or unmasked Dragon Priest. You will fight plenty of those in other dungeons across Skyrim, so I suggest starting this unmarked quest through Birna so you can take on the ghost of Ysgramor’s son.
Now, let’s get back to the quest.
Retrieving the Helm of Yngol
After unlocking the gate, continue deeper into the Barrow. You’ll come across a chamber with a bridge going to the other side. Head down into the water on the right side of the bridge to loot a submerged chest and burial urn. Proceed through the next gate and harvest all the hanging moss from the crypt walls.
Hanging moss is an excellent ingredient for creating valuable power potions with your Alchemy skill. Take the right path to continue forward and pick the Adept-locked door at the end of the room. Inside is a chest with random loot, a couple of burial urns, and some more hanging moss.
There’s also a somewhat hidden steel greatsword fit between the chest and burial urn on the right side.
In the next frozen room is a randomized greatsword surrounded by 15 snowberries. The berry smoothies tonight are on Yngol. Pick all of this up before heading into the next crypt area.
Watch out for the pressure plate trap on the floor leading into the crypt, as it will spring a spiked gate trap that hits very hard. An easy way to avoid it is to trigger it, then run past it as it swings back up. Inside the crypt are a desiccated corpse and another randomized loot chest. Grab what you can before you and your army of light balls proceed to one of Skyrim’s many claw doors.
Claw doors all work the same, and solving the puzzle just requires examining the Coral Dragon Claw in your inventory. Snake, wolf, then moth is the correct code.
If you have any minions to summon, bring them out now.
Yngol Barrow Boss Fight
As soon as you step inside this final crypt, the boss of Yngol Barrow will appear. Assuming you obtained the Coral Dragon Claw from Birna, Yngol’s Shade will attack you.
Yngol’s Shade is worthy of being a boss. He will be significantly stronger than you unless you come here late in the game. He can use the Frost Breath, Unrelenting Force, and Disarm shouts and carries a powerful melee weapon (If you come here at level 20+, it’s almost always an Ebony weapon). I suggest putting your companion and summoned minion between you and him. While he is distracted by them, flank him from behind.
If a head-on confrontation is too hard or you’re trying to clear out Yngol Barrow very early in the game, there’s an alternative way of dealing with him. The exit to Yngol Barrow also functions as a half entry point into Yngol’s final chamber.
Further east of Yngol’s Barrow along the coast is the door you’ll use to exit Yngol’s Barrow momentarily. You can also use this door to enter the Barrow.
You won’t be able to open the gate, but you’ll be able to attack Yngol or the generic boss enemy that spawns from this side of the gate. And they won’t be able to do anything to you. Use a bow and arrow or ranged magic spells (Summoned minions don’t work with this method) to take the boss down. You still need to head into Yngol Barrow from the front to collect your spoils, but this method ensures a safe and easy boss encounter.
Strangely enough, if you use this method, the inventory of Yngol’s Shade will instantly pop up as soon as you enter Yngol’s crypt, even if you fought a draugr death overlord or Dragon Priest.
Anyway, take down Yngol or the generic boss monster, and all those balls of light will dissipate into a blur of blinding blue light. Loot the boss chest for some randomized loot and a copy of Song of Hrormir. It’s a Two-Handed skill book and is always here. Loot the boss monster’s corpse for his weapon, and pick up the randomized battleaxe on the ground near the throne. Finally, take the Helm of Yngol from Yngol’s skeleton. Doing so will unlock the gate ahead, allowing you to leave Yngol’s Barrow.
Loot the chest at the base of the stairwell, then head up. Midway up the winding stairwell is an iron door that leads outside. Heading to the top of the stairs is pointless as it leads to a caved-in ceiling.
Take a deep breath of that cold, northern Skyrim air. You’ve emerged from Yngol Barrow victorious!
Is the Helm of Yngol good?
The Helm of Yngol is pretty good for the mid-game and great for the early game. It has an upper mid-tier base armor rating of 21 and is one of the few helms in the game with an elemental resistance enchantment.
Visually identical to the helms worn by draugr deathlords, it counts as a steel helmet, and you can use it as a steel helm replacement for the full armor set bonus. Strangely enough, despite being an enchanted helm, the Helm of Yngol benefits from the Advanced Smithing perk rather than Arcane Blacksmith.
Since you can cheese the final boss fight, the Helm of Yngol is a great way to get the Resist Frost enchantment for free early in your playthrough.
Question: Can you return to Birna and tell her about Yngol Barrow?
Answer: No. It’s one of Skyrim’s many oversights, and there’s no option to tell Birna anything about what happened with the Coral Dragon Claw you bought from her.
Question: Do we ever find out what those balls of light represent?
Answer: As far as I know, no. The most popular fan theories suggest they are Sea-Ghosts or the souls of Yngol’s men that died alongside him.
Question: Can you get the Coral Dragon Claw from Birna if you already got it from Yngol Barrow?
Answer: Yes, you can! Even though this seems like an item that would be one-of-a-kind, if you head to Yngol Barrow and get the Coral Dragon Claw from there, you can visit Birna and buy hers as well.
Question: Dragon Claws are useless after being used in their respective tombs/crypts, but they make excellent mantle pieces. Why settle for one Coral Dragon Claw when you can have two?
Answer: The only downside to this is that you won’t get to face Yngol’s Shade.
Yngol Barrow Guide: Conclusion
I love Yngol Barrow as it’s sort of a bamboozle dungeon. You go through it thinking that it must be harmless since there are no enemies around, only to come face-to-face with a son of Ysgramor who’s no slouch himself.
Part of me is disappointed that you cannot relay your success to Birna. Especially since she talks about the financial struggles she goes through as a shopkeeper in Winterhold, you would think there would be some option to help her out after returning from Yngol Barrow. But still, I definitely enjoy the tougher, one-of-a-kind boss fights that Skyrim has to offer, and Yngol’s Shade is a worthy opponent.
But let’s not mince words here; this dungeon takes no more than 20-30 minutes to clear. That’s definitely not enough to satisfy the adventurer in me, and I think I speak for most Skyrim players when I say that. So, let’s find some more dungeons to explore.
Until next time!