I was educated at the Universities of Pennsylvania (USA), Durham (UK, BA in English Language and Medieval Literature), Oslo (Norway, Leverhulme Study Abroad Studentship) and London (PhD in Scandinavian Studies, UCL). Before coming to Nottingham in 1985, I worked as a Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main (Germany). During my time at Nottingham I have been Head of the School of English Studies (2001-4), and was promoted to Professor of Viking Studies in 2002. In 2020 I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
Areas of expertise - Old Norse language and literature, runology, and interdisciplinary Viking Studies.
I am currently:
I am also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.
- Outreach and Public Engagement
Here are some links to appearances I have made in various media:
Vikingology Podcast - The Saga of the Earls of Orkney and Skaldic Poetry, discussion with historian Terri Barnes and author C. J. Adrien (May 2023)
History Extra Podcast - What Norse poetry reveals about the Viking Age, with Carolyne Larrington, hosted by Matt Elton (April 2023)
BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature - The Ancient Algorithm, programme on runes and runic inscriptions with Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough and various other contributors (April 2022)
BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking - Discussion about Vikings and writing history with Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, Neil Price, Elizabeth Boyle and Kevan Manwaring (March 2022)
Messages from the Middle Ages: Discovering Runes - Podcast for Gone Medieval with Dr Cat Jarman (July 2021)
In praise of Queen Astrid of Norway - 10-minute talk for the British Academy (March 2021)
Podcast on Women in the Viking Age for Jorvik Viking Festival (February 2021)
Digital Museum event, Seafaring series, Vikings (February 2021)
The Viking Diaspora - Podcast interview for the Seven Ages website, 'Exploring History, Archaeology, Science and Culture' (November 2020)
Inghen Ruaidh, the Birka Grave and Viking Warrior Women Not What You Thought You Knew with Fern Riddell and Rebecca Gowland (September 2020)
Valkyries: Fierce women of war BBC World Service, Forum with Bridget Kendall, Marianne Hem Eriksen and Sif Rikharðsdóttir (July 2020)
Everything you ever wanted to know about the Vikings, but were afraid to ask History Extra podcast with David Musgrove (May 2020)
The Danelaw In Our Time BBC Radio 4 with Melvyn Bragg, Jane Kershaw and John Hines (March 2019)
Runes: The Vikings in their own Words on The History of Vikings podcast with Noah Tetzner (October 2018)
I co-teach (lectures and seminars) in the areas of Old Norse and Viking Studies, and Old English, on the core first-year module, Beginnings of English. I contribute lectures to the optional… read more
My research has always focused on the relationships of language, texts and contexts in the Viking Age and medieval Scandinavia, with a particular focus on runic inscriptions, skaldic verse and… read more
Areas of Research Supervision
Prospective doctoral students intending to work in any area of Old Norse-Icelandic and Viking Studies are welcome to contact me to discuss a possible project. I am currently particularly interested in supervising work on runes, runology and runic inscriptions, on skaldic poetry, Scandinavian Scotland, and on themes related to the Viking diaspora or Norse myth and legend.
Current Research Students
I am co-supervisor (80%) for:
Christopher Mawford, working on liminality and wisdom in Eddic poetry (with Dr Paul Cavill)
I am co-supervisor (60%) for:
Harriet Clark, working on kingship, regionalism, and co-rulership in the Norwegian realm, c. 1015 - 1250 CE (with Dr Christopher Callow, History, University of Birmingham)
I am co-supervisor (50%) for:
Cassidy Croci, working on social network analysis of Landnámabók (with Dr John Baker)
Tom Fairfax, working on Kinship Connections and the Earldom of Orkney, c. 900-1263 (with Professor Nicola Royan)
William Pidzamecky, working on Viking camps and settlements in east and west (with Dr John Baker)
Michele Roncarati, working on wolves and and the wolfish: imagery of a cultural phenomenon in Old Norse-Icelandic (with Dr Christina Lee)
I am co-supervisor (40%) for:
Jasmin Higgs, working on the functions of runic writing in Britain between c.400-650AD (with Dr Martin Findell, and Dr Philip Shaw, Durham University)
I also co-supervise or advise PhD candidates in other institutions:
Agni Papamichael (Department of History, University of Birmingham)
Jonas Koesling (University of Iceland)
Past Research Students
I was principal supervisor:
(100%) for Roderick Dale, whose thesis was on Berserkir: A Re-Examination of the Phenomenon in Literature and Life (2014); now published as The Myths and Realities of the Viking Berserkr (2022)
(80%) for Runestone Images and Visual Communication in Viking Age Scandinavia (2013; with Dr Christina Lee)
Elizaveta Matveeva, whose thesis was on Reconsidering the tradition: the Odinic hero as saga protagonist (2016; with Dr Paul Cavill)
Aya Van Renterghem, whose thesis was on The written rune: alphabets and rune-rows in medieval manuscripts from the continent and the British Isles (2018; with Dr Paul Cavill).
(50%) Teva Vidal, whose thesis was on Houses and Domestic Life in the Viking Age and Medieval Period: Material Perspectives from Sagas and Archaeology (2013; with Dr Christina Lee)
(40%) Elisabeth Magin, whose thesis was on Runes, runic writing and runic inscriptions as primary sources for town development in medieval Bergen, Norway (2021; with Dr Christopher King, Archaeology, and Dr Gitte Hansen, University of Bergen).
(20%) Eleanor Rye, whose thesis was on Dialect in the Viking-Age Scandinavian diaspora: the evidence of medieval minor names (2016; with Dr Jayne Carroll)
Stefanie Künzel whose thesis was on Concepts of infectious, contagious, and epidemic disease in Anglo-Saxon England (2018; with Dr Christina Lee).
Earlier, I supervised successful PhDs on the poetics of the Sagas of Icelanders (Slavica Ranković), the horse in the Viking imagination (Betsy van der Hoek-Springer), poetic discourse in Viking Age England (Jayne Carroll), and the historical context of Scandinavian runic inscriptions in Britain (Katherine Holman).
- Undergraduate Modules Taught
I co-teach (lectures and seminars) in the areas of Old Norse and Viking Studies, and Old English, on the core first-year module, Beginnings of English. I contribute lectures to the optional first-year/subsidiary module The Viking World and teach on the optional second-year module on Norse mythology (Ice and Fire: Myths and Heroes of the North). I convene and teach an interdisciplinary third-year option on The Viking Mind which focuses on Icelandic sagas. I also regularly supervise undergraduate dissertations in Old Norse and Viking Studies.
- Postgraduate Modules Taught
I offer modules in Old Norse on the MA in Viking and Early Medieval English Studies and the new Applied English programme and sometimes also teach on Research Methods and Runology. I also supervise master's dissertations in these areas.
My research has always focused on the relationships of language, texts and contexts in the Viking Age and medieval Scandinavia, with a particular focus on runic inscriptions, skaldic verse and historical sagas. I also write on questions of orality and literacy, geography, migration and diaspora, and Scandinavian contacts with the British Isles.
My main current project is an annotated translation of the Saga of the Earls of Orkney.
My expertise focuses on a variety of texts composed and written in Old Norse-Icelandic. These include:
- poetry of the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries, originally oral and now surviving in written versions of the 13th century or later, especially that usually termed 'skaldic'
- runic inscriptions from the 8th to the 15th century
- Icelandic sagas, especially the Kings' Sagas and other historical works, and the Sagas of Icelanders.
I have extensive research experience in the general and cultural history of the Viking Age in Scandinavia and in areas settled by Scandinavians, with a broad knowledge of interdisciplinary approaches and an interest in questions of orality and literacy, and of migration, diaspora and cultural memory. I also have research experience in the more general history, literature and culture of Norway, and of Scandinavian Scotland.