The Elder Scrolls

Where’s the ‘breadbasket’ of Tamriel?

Content of the article: "Where’s the ‘breadbasket’ of Tamriel?"

Hello friends, got a question for y'all.

I'm trying to do a nice big fat map up of Tamriel, stuffing as much as I can into it. You learn a lot of things while trying to chart the continent's odd geography, and are left with a lot of befuddlement as well. Of course this is because its a fantasy map based on video games spanning several generations of platforms and graphical eras. Its not meant to be realistic – but who's ever let that stop them?

So my question is – where is the breadbasket of Tamriel? Where do people get their food from, exactly? We know some major agricultural area must exist, but its never been truly represented in the games. We get farms, but not farms, if you get my gist. In our world, at the time period roughly similar to the Third and Fourth eras, farming is the critical industry. Most of the population is engaged in it, much of the arable land is given over to it, and lords gain all of their political power based on how many farmsteads their holdings can support. Entire eras of history revolve around farming concerns – i.e., why did the Danes invade the British Isles? Because there was far more arable land compared to much of Scandinavia!

All I'm saying is, its important. Its a question that needs to be answered. One can just say "them veggies on the tables got magicked there" and excuse it away, but there's no fun in that. So I decided to go through the provinces and look at their agricultural potential, to identify where all this damn bread in-game comes from.

Ranking from less likely to be the source to most likely:

  • Valenwood – the Bosmer province probably has the least agricultural potential. As far as we know, its either mostly forests in the south and west, or its rocky, hilly terrain in the north and east. Reaper's March could be farmed but its not gonna be the breadbasket. Also, Green Pact.
  • Black Marsh – aka Argonia is probably the place we know the least about fully in its geography. But we know its very marshy and very dense – that doesn't preclude an ability for good agriculture however, in fact it can help. Clear out a patch of forest and you'll likely have a nice flat area with plenty of access to nutrient-rich soils nearby. Has this happened? Probably not!
  • Skyrim – this should be obvious. We know of two areas of Skyrim where you could get proper farmland going – the Whiterun Plains and the Rift. All other areas will be difficult to have large-scale farmland. The one stretch I'd make is maybe near Windhelm, but only because my headcanon says there's probably a lot of ashfalls in the region, and ash is fantastic for crops. Its also hella cold however, which presents an issue for Whiterun as well – lots of flat land, looks arable, but I bet you the winters are bone-chilling. The Rift at least provides a more southern, temperate locale, but of course we just see a lot of orange trees in-game.
  • Hammerfell – again, a place we don't know a lot about, particularly in the southern reaches between the coast and Craglorn. Lore suggests it's rocky and hilly, but there's a few rivers crossing through it. I'd give it a chance. Also: Craglorn itself could probably stuff a few farms within it, and definitely there's agriculture along the coast of Iliac Bay and the Bjouslae River.
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Below this are the good candidates for the Breadbasket of Tamriel.

  • Summerset Isle & Auridon – I was going to initially say these should be higher, but lore articles tell us that much of the sister islands are either mountains or untamed wilds – but there's definitely more than a few valleys that would be suitable for agriculture in this temperate region of Tamriel. Its a good candidate for the breadbasket… but hard to square with lore.
  • Morrowind – the ashfalls, the relatively stable climate, a good number of rivers coming down from mountains (probably), all of this points to what I'd imagine was a vibrant and strong agricultural region. Even Vvardenfell, with its angry hot potato in the centre, would've been a great candidate for farmland, save for the occasional lava spurt – but the mainland would be where it's at. More drearily, it'd probably also explain why the slave trade was so strong in the province, the Dunmer would want workers. After the Red Year though? Hard to say what's come of it – Vvardenfell uninhabitable, ashfalls too prolific, Argonian incursions making the south too unstable to settle? Lots of unknowns.
  • High Rock – immediately coming to mind from lore is the 'rolling green hills' of Glenumbra, the peninsula where Daggerfall, Camlorn, and so on are. It screams "breadbasket" and probably is for much of High Rock and Hammerfell. Stormhaven as well would be a good candidate, though we get mostly "forests" from the lore. Everywhere else is verging on too mountainous or too cold, but we don't need much else honestly. There's also the feudal nature we glean from Breton lore, it all just kind of fits.
  • Cyrodiil – finally. In Oblivion there's barely any farms, but every indication we have is that the province should be huge for agriculture. The Nibenay Basin seems primed for large swathes of farms, with many rivers crossing down to flow into the river and Lake Rumare. Colovia is generally flat and looks incredibly arable outside of the Imperial Reserve. Bruma and the Blackwood would be more difficult for all the reasons laid out in earlier parts, but they don't cover most of the land. So where are all the farms Bethesda!?

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And that's my list for today. What do you all think, if you made it this far? Make sense? Got other ideas?


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