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Nord Beliefs and Customs[edit]

Nord Afterlife[edit]

Noble Nord, remember these words of the hoar father: Fear not (the) specter of death, for he is (the) herald of glory and your guide to great Sovngarde.
—A Word Wall

Nords have believed their souls will travel to Sovngarde since even before they departed Atmora.[1][2] This realm lies in the heart of Aetherius, awaiting the souls of departed warriors. Nords who prove themselves in battle awaken in the realm after death.[3] Nords are judged not by the manner in which they lived, but the manner in which they die.[4] In the end, all valiant Nords can enter Sovngarde, despite dismemberment, decapitation or evisceration.[1]

The Hall of Valor is a massive stone mead hall located in Sovngarde in which Nord heroes are welcomed to be forever honored by Shor. The hall can only be accessed by crossing the huge Whale Bone bridge which is guarded by Tsun, the shield-thane of Shor. The hall can only be entered by defeating him in a challenge or unless granted permission from Shor.[5] Pain and illness vanish within the Hall of Valor. Revelry is never-ending, mead flows freely, and the greatest Nords of all time compete in tests of strength and prowess. Even the tedium of immortality is unknown, for spectral foes wait in the surrounding shadows, waiting to do battle with those who would test their mettle.[3]

Nords' souls of those who die peacefully, executed or murdered will pass to Aetherius, in company of the other Divines, instead of traveling to Sovngarde.[6][7][8]

Shor is the Nordic version of Lorkhan. Before his doom, Shor, sometimes called the "Children's God", was chief of the gods.[9] Shor created the realm of Sovngarde before he died. After he was murdered, Shor retreated to that realm to rule over it, choosing heroes to honor according to his whims. Shor is for the Nords both the missing god of creation and the king of the dead.[3] There are many ancient Nordic legends of Shor and his compatriots. Kyne was his wife and later his widow, Stuhn was one of his Shield-thanes, and Tsun died protecting him.[9] They say he fought Alduin on the spirit plane at the beginning of time.[10] However, it is also true that Alduin feeds on the souls of the dead in Sovngarde, a privilege he guards jealously.[11]

Nord Funerary Customs[edit]

A Hall of the Dead
A Nord graveyard

Most Nord cities have a Hall of the Dead, the way the Nords call their mausoleums, and where bodies are interred, overseen by a Priest of Orkey or Arkay, depending on the era, who ensures that corpses are properly consecrated and cared for.[12] Priests are trained to prepare and inter the corpses of the dead and to learn the proper burial rituals and prayers, sometimes, since they were children.[7][13] A Priest of Arkay in Skyrim is usually entrusted with a ceremonial dagger once they've completed their training, given by the head priest who sanctified the ritual. Ceremonial daggers and other tools were used by the Nords of old to embalm the bodies, a practice forgotten by the Fourth Era.[8][13] Besides that dagger, each priest holds an amulet of Arkay which allows them to appease the restless dead who sometimes arise from their tombs.[14] Arkay or Orkey priests in Skyrim usually live solitary lives and are seen as little more than outcasts.[13][14][7]

A Fire Burial
Burial of an ancient king

Smaller Nord settlements and some cities may have graveyards where their dead are buried with the same rites as those from the Hall of the Dead. Each grave is marked by a gravestone and bodies are encased in coffins.[6][15][16] Sometimes the burial has to wait for the ground to thaw, due to the harsh climate of Skyrim, but also the cold prevents the bodies from rotting quickly.[8]

Prestigious Nord clans may also have their own barrows outside of cities. These tombs are watched by their own relatives, keeping out intruders and tending to their dead.[17] This tradition dates, at least, to the very beginning of Nords' colonization of Tamriel and continued until, at least, the Second Era. Highly esteemed Nords, like honored warriors, jarls, and kings of old had their own barrow, commonly in secluded places, far from populated places.[18][19][20]

Some Nords may choose a Fire Burial, instead of interring themselves. Reasons may differ, but they are an uncommon choice, but not despised at all. This ritual involves the cremation of the body of the deceased and the consecration of the ashes by a priest, to secure their souls to depart to the afterlife.[21][6][22]

In some cases the funerary practices involved the ship burial. Olmgerd the Outlaw in Tukushapal was given that kind of burial.[23][24].



  1. ^ a b Sovngarde, a ReexaminationBereditte Jastal
  2. ^ Ysgramor's presence in Sovngarde in Skyrim
  3. ^ a b c The Road to Sovngarde
  4. ^ A Dream of SovngardeSkardan Free-Winter
  5. ^ Tsun's dialogue in Sovngarde in Skyrim
  6. ^ a b c Runil's dialogue in Skyrim
  7. ^ a b c Styrr's dialogue in Skyrim
  8. ^ a b c Helgird's dialogue in Skyrim
  9. ^ a b Varieties of Faith...Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
  10. ^ Five Songs of King Wulfharth
  11. ^ Events of Skyrim
  12. ^ Hall of the Dead loading screen in ESO
  13. ^ a b c Alessandra's dialogue in Skyrim
  14. ^ a b Andurs' dialogue in Skyrim
  15. ^ Kust's dialogue in Skyrim
  16. ^ Beneath the Stone quest in ESO
  17. ^ Golldir's dialogue in Skyrim
  18. ^ Borgas' burial in Korvanjund in Skyrim
  19. ^ Olaf One-Eye's burial in Dead Men's Respite in Skyrim
  20. ^ Ysgramor's burial in Ysgramor's Tomb in Skyrim
  21. ^ Glory of the Dead's quest in Skyrim
  22. ^ Thadgeir's dialogue in Skyrim
  23. ^ Ennbjof's dialogue in Morrowind
  24. ^ Tukushapal in Morrowind