Elder Script

The “Elder Script” is the unofficial name for the symbols found on the Elder Scrolls. It has no known translation, and features a total of 70 glyphs in total, many of which are variations and rotations of others.

Character Map

The numbers assigned to each symbol are arbitrary are only there to assist with discussions about the symbols. They should not be taken as that symbol’s translation.

Symbols found on the Elder Scroll from TESIV: Oblivion and TESV: Skyrim. Drawn by Lierin Falzoni.
Additional symbols found on the Elder Scroll from TES: Legends

The symbols on an Elder Scroll are split up into two areas: the background and the foreground. Those in the foreground are also divided into two groups: circled and uncircled.

Symbols that appear in the foreground:

  • Circled: 1-17
  • Un-circled: 18-24, 25

Symbols that appear in the background:

  • 26, 27-33, 35-58

The symbol “34” appears in both the foreground and the background.

Some symbols are mirrored, rotated or have slight variations of other symbols:

  • 21 and 39, 180 degree rotation
  • 2 and 40, slightly different
  • 27 and 28, 90 degree rotation clockwise
  • 18 and 49, 180 degree rotation, slightly different
  • 41 and 58, 180 degree rotation
  • 68 and 69, different sizes

Some symbols of the Elder Alphabet resemble those belonging to the “Theban Alphabet” from the book The Magus by the occultist Francis Barrett. The Magus talked about “natural magic” like alchemy, magnetisme, numerology, astrology, talismanic magic, among others.

It is not believed that the Elder Script has any translation.

Examples of Use

An Elder Scroll from TESIV: Oblivion

Reading an Elder Scroll

An Elder Scroll is not a document that can be conventionally read, but rather it allows the “reader” to see the past and possible futures. The more a person looks on the scrolls, the more they lose their eyesight.

The more a Priest of the Ancestor Moth communes with the Scrolls, the more legible they become, even as our vision fails and the letters grow more obscure. In fact, the symbols and characters of a Scroll’s text gradually take on the character of whichever language is most familiar to the reader. This makes the decay of our eyesight all the more mournful, as the loss of the ability to read the Scrolls feels like the death of a close friend.

— Sister Terran Arminus, Moth Priest

It is widely known among scholars that the Elder Scrolls entail a certain hazard in their very reading. The mechanism of the effects has, at present, been largely unknown — theories of hidden knowledge and divine retribution were the subject of idle speculation with little investigation.

I, Justinius Poluhnius, have undertaken to thoroughly document the ailments afflicted by the Elder Scrolls on their readers, though a unified theory of how they manifest continues to elude me and remains a subject for future study.

I have grouped the effects into four, finding that the avenue of experience depends largely upon the mind of the reader. If this is unclear, I hope that a proper dichotomy will lay it plain.

— Justinius Poluhnius, author of Effect of the Elder Scroll

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