Skyrim Special Edition

About this mod

*Major update - version 2.0 released* Lore-friendly and highly defensible player home in the Rift. Medium sized. Family and follower friendly; crafting stations; generous number of planters; named storage; guards and other staff; mannequins and weapon displays, etc.

Permissions and credits
If you're anything like me, you've long wanted a player home that felt secure and defensible (Skyrim is a great place for making enemies, after all) without being oversized or totally incompatible with Skyrim lore. A convenient safe haven where you can dump your wealth and urchins, without worrying that the Whiterun drunk will stumble in at 4 am and help himself to a Daedric artifact from a wall display. Grand and impressive without being a sprawling maze. A balance between aesthetics and utility.

If so, this could be the player home for you.


  • Four additional follower beds, for a total of either six (main version) or ten (alternative version), divided between the great hall and gatehouse
  • New area: postern gate that leads directly outside the bailey for a short-cut to the jetty
  • New area: gatehouse, with additional quarters and a bathing area (NPCs will automatically undress and dress on entering and leaving the baths)
  • The boat at the jetty will now take you to either Riften Stables, Riften Docks, or Ivarstead
  • Brunhild, the steward, will now be willing to sell you basic tavern supplies, plus a few ingredients and furs
  • Spare key in the gatehouse in case you do not wish to defeat the dragon, or in case it flees and takes the key with it


  • Acquired by a combination of bounty quest and purchase system
  • Room for a spouse, four children, and either six or ten followers*
  • Depending on the version you choose, either two or six household staff and guards*, each with their own daily routine
  • Open-plan great hall, with galleried quarters around the main feasting hall
  • Undercroft with forge, armoury, and postern gate to exterior
  • Gatehouse with additional quarters and baths (NPCs will automatically undress and dress on entering and leaving the baths)
  • Five mannequins and various weapon racks and plaques for displaying your gear
  • All the usual crafting stations and plenty of named and generic storage for flexibility
  • Bailey (courtyard) with a byre for a cow, goat, and two chickens, stabling for your horses (and a dog), fifty-odd hearthfire-style planters, and training dummies and archery targets (which the guards will use)
  • Roof terrace with scenic pool, fountain, and shrine to Kyne (with a special blessing)
  • Additional lore in the book on the desk
  • Interior and exterior fully navmeshed (of course)

* There are two versions available: one with four guards (v 2.0a), and one which dispenses with these in order to provide a greater number of beds for followers (v 2.0b). Choose the one that best suits your needs from the Files page.

I am not a completionist, and as I made this mod for one of my own playthroughs, I have not incorporated unique displays for all the items you could conceivably collect over the course of your game. Nonetheless, there is plenty of named and unnamed storage to shape and adapt to your needs. It is also worth noting that my aim was to use assets from the standard game and official DLCs wherever possible; the only custom assets are the book statics. The castle should have a fairly vanilla feel to it as a result.


Heartwood Castle is situated on the main road west out of Riften, just to the south of Heartwood Mill. There are fast travel points from Riften Docks (the northernmost berth bar Honeyside), alongside Riften Stables (directly next to Honeyside), and Ivarstead (to the right of the main bridge into the village) which lead to the jetty outside Heartwood Castle. Otherwise, the fortress is only a short ride from the city, or from Ivarstead further to the northwest.

Those of you with sharp eyes may be able to find a bounty posted in the Vilemyr Inn (Ivarstead) or Bee and Barb (Riften) tavern, but both of the dead mercenaries on the steps up to the main gate carry a copy of this as well; you can read the bounty to discover what you'll face when you enter the castle grounds and the prize for defeating it (spoiler: it's a dragon, and the castle, in that order).

The dragon carries the key needed to access the great hall, though the gatehouse and postern gate can be accessed from the courtyard without the key, and be sure to loot the other corpses in the bailey for some treasure. A spare key can be found in the gatehouse, on the table next to the baths (see final mod image), in case you encounter issues with the dragon. The ledger on the desk in the master's quarters (top floor) will allow you to acquire Heartwood Castle and the attendant staff, which will set you back 20,000 gold. Bear in mind that the ownership won't update unless you purchase the deed to the castle, meaning that the storage and beds will be off limits until then.


This player home has been tested across a number of characters, and is compatible and recommended for use with Hearthfire Multiple Adoptions. You may also wish to use one of the many excellent follower mods out there, such as My Home Is Your Home, to rehome your favourite followers in the castle, or indeed Multiple Floors Sandboxing to encourage more natural behaviours for anyone you do relocate.

The castle is unlikely to be compatible with other mods that alter the same cells next to Heartwood Mill. Let me know if you encounter conflicts, or indeed if other nearby mods work fine, and I'll list the findings here.

  • Partially compatible with Blackthorn as both mods edit the same cells. Place Heartwood Castle after Dragonfall Castle in your load order.
  • Partially compatible with Dragonfall Castle as both mods edit the same cells. Place Heartwood Castle after Dragonfall Castle in your load order.
  • Partially compatible with Birchwood Manor as both mods edit the same cells. Place Heartwood Castle after Birchwood Manor in your load order.
  • Partially compatible with More Bandit Camps as both mods edit the same cells. Place Heartwood Castle after More Bandit Camps in your load order.
  • Appears compatible with Arden House. The two homes are close, but not close enough to be an issue.

Please note as well that the images were captured on a save where the brilliant S.T.E.P. Guide has been followed, so some of the textures may be different in your game. Further detail about the guide here.


Install in the usual way: I recommend using Mod Organizer 2 or Vortex (preferably the former) for ease and transparency. Be very wary of uninstalling mods mid-game - even lightweight player home mods like this one - as unintended behaviours can result. My advice if you're unsure would be to hold onto a save from before you installed a given mod, and revert to it if you change your mind.


Please let me know in the comments if you encounter any bugs or have any other feedback.


  • I could never have made a single mod without the tutorials provided by the fantastic DarkFox127
  • Thanks to Bigbuttbringus for their advice on interior lighting
  • Sky91 has made a charming vampiric version of this home called Darkwood Castle

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Yngol's Spear