TES4 Oblivion: Interview About Runestones and Doomstones (2006)

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Librarian Note:

This interview is a transcription of a lecture that can be heard in the Arcane University in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. Xui’al’s lines are made up by him and server to provide context, but Clagius’ answers are entirely from inside the game.


While visting the Imperial City I had an opportunity to interview Clagius Galenus, the renowed mage, mycologist and archaeologist on Cyrodiilic runestones. Having studied his exhaustive work on Telvanni buildings, I was anxious to actually meet the man in person. Once I was able to maneuver my way through the bureaucracy that exists at the University and arrange an interview, we sat down for a fine meal at the Tiber Septim. He told me that after his return from the Morrowind mainland, he traveled extensively around Cyrodiil to research the mysterious Runestones and Doomstones which have mystified travelers from the dawn of civilization.

  • Xui:
  • Can you explain to us the difference between these various monoliths that dot our landscape?

  • Clagius:
  • First, all rune-marked ancient stones are called runestones, though there are in fact, two very different classes of runestones. Doomstones have red runes, and are associated with stone circles. Runestones have blue runes, and appear as solitary monuments. There are six commonly recognized varieties of runestone. Birthstone Doomstones bear red runes, appear with stone circles, and are associated with the classic birthsigns like the Apprentice and the Atronach. Heavenly Doomstones bear red runes, appear with stone circles, and are associated with cosmic features of the heavens like the moons Jone and Jode. Hestra Runestones are marked with green runes, appear as solitary monuments, and are believed to be named for the late First Era Empress Hestra. Reman Runestones are solitary monuments marked with green runes, almost certainly named for Reman Cyrodiil, the First Era emperor. Sidri-Ashak Runestones are single standing stones marked with green runes, thought to be named for an obscure Akaviri potentate, Sidri-Ashak. Fort Runestones are stones with green runes, found singly or in pairs, in the ruins of some subterranean First Era forts. These names offer few hints to the origin or function of the stones, though they assist scholars in identifying each type of stone on maps.

  • Xui:
  • Do you have any conclusions as to when the Runestones were built?

  • Clagius:
  • Cyrodiil’s runestones are thought to belong to one of three time periods: the Dawn Era, the Merethic Era, or the late First Era. The most common practice is to place the raising of the runestones within the High First Era Cyrodiil of Empress Hestra and the Reman Emperors. Runestones found in forts like Sancre Tor support a First Era date, though the stones could have been moved to the forts from earlier sites. I personally believe that the runestones date from the Dawn Era or Merethic Age, but they were moved to new sites by late First Era emperors. Others yet assign the runestones to the Merethic or Early First Era, primarily on the basis of their simple, even crude design and craft. However, the greatest objection to First Era dating is that the stones are completely unlike any other examples of First Era architecture.

  • Xui:
  • Why is there so little information available on the runestones?

  • Clagius:
  • Few records survive from the Dark Ages of the Potentates. Thus might the secrets of the runestones be lost… in wickedness, vainglory, and neglect.

  • Xui:
  • Is there any pattern to the placement of the Runestones throughout Cyrodiil?

  • Clagius:
  • Before Tiber Septim, Cyrodiil’s roads varied greatly in quality, and were often impassible in bad weather and winter seasons. In the late First Era, Empress Hestra improved the roads, and the Reman Emperors continued her policies. The last period of First Era road-building was in the reign of the last strong Akaviri Potentate, Sidri-Ashak. Note that three classes of runestones are named, respectively, Hestra Stones, Reman Stones, and Sidri-Ashak Stones. Could these runestones have served as waypoints and landmarks for military patrols of the nascent Imperial Legion? Did battlemages activate runestones on arrival, thus lighting arcane beacons within the next runestone? The Mages Guild should fund further study of the early Imperial Legions, their battlemages, and their traditions of patrol and route-finding.

  • Xui:
  • Rumor has it that these stones are imbued with strange and powerful magicks. Is there any truth to this?

  • Clagius:
  • The universal belief that runestones are magickal, despite all evidence, is good reason to suspect that the runestones are indeed magickal. One theory is that the stones were once magickal, but they have lost their magic, either through age and disuse, or because of sin or neglect. It may also be that they are magickal, but only for certain individuals or under certain circumstances, or that their magicks are secret. Since the runestones have lost their enchantments, however, we may never know why they were moved, or what function they served at First Era sites.

  • Xui:
  • While you say that you have been unable to access any of the powers of the stones, is it possible that they share divine origin?

  • Clagius:
  • There are those who believe the runestones to be Dawn Era artifacts, created by the Aedra or Daedra, often describe them as Lorkhan’s birthing gift to mortals. Given that, suppose that the runestones are divine, and that the secrets of their magicks are revealed only by divine revelation. Suppose that the runestones existed, for whatever reason, and in whatever form, long before the coming of the Cyrodilic emperors. Suppose, however, that the power of these stones had been hidden, but was revealed to certain holy men or prophets in the First Era. Suppose that, under the guidance of the gods, these runestones were newly consecrated to a great purpose… the founding of the Cyrodilic Empire. Once these ancient monuments might have been powerful bulwarks of the Cyrodilic emperors, battlemages, and priests. But imagine, as the emperors grew weak, and as the power and glory of the Empire waned, and as the people fell away from their service to the gods… Imagine that the power of these runestones might have diminished — weakened, then extinguished — by the sins of the Potentates.

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