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Paul Cavill

Assistant Professor in Early English (Old English), Faculty of Arts


Expertise Summary

Old English language and literature, English place-names, the history of the English language, the Bible and early English Christianity.

I am currently

  • Editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society (see
  • Member of the Council of the English Place-Name Society
  • Member of: the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland, Nottingham Institute for Medieval Research, The Henry Bradshaw Society, The Early English Text Society

Outreach and Public Engagement

I give talks to local and national historical societies and school groups on Anglo-Saxon and place-name topics. I am a frequent contributor to local and national radio programmes such as Radio 4's Making History. I answer place-name queries from the press and the public.

Research Summary

My research focus is on Old English poetry, especially the wisdom and heroic poems; and place-names.

Specifically, my major projects currently include:

  • a book on the battle of Brunanburh of 937, to supplement a major recent volume (with contributions from me), The Battle of Brunanburh: A Casebook (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2011)
  • articles for The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming, The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of The Viking World and The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Medieval British Literature
  • I am Editor of the Journal of the English Place-Name Society (see
  • work on the place-names of Shropshire, funded by the AHRC

I also write on a wide range of topics, most recently manuscripts, Christian forms and expression in Old English, on the Bible and its history in English, place-names, the history of the English language, aspects of hagiography, interactions of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, and the Venerable Bede.

I supervise students in Old English language and literature (and related areas such as manuscripts) and place-names.

Current PhD students are working on

  • the individual and community in Old English poetry
  • Germanic place-names in the Pas de Calais
  • storytelling in Beowulf
  • interactions of thought and action in Old English poetry
  • traditions of Hrólfs saga Kraka
  • place-names of Nottinghamshire
  • Runica manuscripta

Past Research

My research has focused on a range of texts and embraces diverse disciplines:

  • I have many years' experience in place-name scholarship, and have edited the English Place-Name County Survey volumes over the past two decades
  • I have published several articles on the battle of Brunanburh, and before that, the early traditions relating to Saint Edmund of East Anglia
  • I am interested in and have written books on the history of early English Christianity (Anglo-Saxon Christianity, The Christian Tradition in Anglo-Saxon England), and the influence of Christianity on literature (The Christian Tradition in English Literature).
  • I have also published extensively on Maxims, Cædmon's Hymn, The Battle of Maldon and other works

I have extensive research experience in the general linguistic, cultural, historical and literary background of Anglo-Saxon England, and enjoy interdisciplinary approaches to the study of both texts and language.

Future Research

I have several projects that I hope may come to publication in the next five years:

  • a place-name index for a collaborative work on The White Book of Southwell, a major Nottinghamshire cartulary
  • the place-names of County Durham
  • a revision of John Field's Field-Name Dictionary

I am working on a new edition of the Old English Maxims poems and their background.

School of English

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The University of Nottingham
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telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5900
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 5924