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It wasn’t all raging and rampaging:


Enhancing heritage organisations and improving public understanding of Viking influence in Britain through research on Viking-age gender, language and diaspora

The issue

Vikings have often been perceived as violent and masculine, with images of rampaging warriors pervading the popular imagination. Such images limit understanding of Viking influence in Britain, and have been misappropriated by alt-right groups.

CSVA research counters these perceptions, and thus the damaging alt-right narratives of British history that draw upon them, by providing new insight into the migration, settlement, and integration of Viking peoples in Britain. 

The research 

Studies of culture and language, often given less prominence by archaeologists and historians, can expand and reconfigure understanding beyond recorded events and material objects.

Against the traditional image of Vikings in Britain as occasional perpetrators of raiding and trading over a few centuries, research by Carroll, Cavill and Jesch on poetry and runic inscriptions demonstrates that their impact was broader, longer-lasting, and cultural and linguistic as well as military and economic.

The impact

Research by Professor Judith Jesch, Dr Jayne Carroll, Dr Paul Cavill and Dr Christina Lee from the CSVA has turned public attention away from the ‘rape and pillage’ cliché of the Viking Age, and from a strictly archaeological understanding of the period, to an appreciation of broader Viking Age cultural and linguistic impact.


The key areas of impact are outlined briefly below:

  1. Enhancing the work of UK heritage professionals by changing curation approaches to, and developing new content for, presenting Vikings to the public;
  2. Increasing the capacity for and sustainability of Viking heritage collaboration in the East Midlands, and sharing best practice worldwide; 
  3. Increasing public engagement with and understanding of the Viking Age and its legacy in present-day multicultural Britain.

Spotlight On:
Runes and runic inscriptions

Nottingham's expertise in runology reaches widely into many aspects of Viking and other medieval studies. Members of the CSVA have researched and published on recent discoveries of Viking Age and other early medieval inscriptions in Britain. They study the social and cultural background and uses of runic inscriptions, both in the Viking Age and in the contemporary world. 

Read more about the supporting projects

Key outputs

Selected publications emerging from this research:

  • Jesch, J., (2001). Ships and Men in the Late Viking Age: The Vocabulary of Runic Inscriptions and Skaldic Verse. Boydell. ISBN 9780851158266.
  • Jesch, J., (2001). Skaldic verse in Scandinavian England. In: J. Graham-Campbell et al., eds. Vikings and the Danelaw. Oxbow Books. pp. 313-25. ISBN 9781785704444.
  • Clunies Ross, M. et al., eds. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages. Volumes I (2012) and II (2009). Brepols.
    Includes scholarly editions by Jesch, J. (vol. I, pp. 143-149, 532-556, 614-649, 663-698; vol. II, pp. 575-623, 626-8) and Carroll, J. (vol. I, pp. 486-513; vol. II, pp. 432-460). ISBN: 978-2-503-51896-1; ISBN: 978-2-503-51897-8.
  • Harding, S. E. et al. eds. (2015). In Search of Vikings: Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Scandinavian Heritage of North-West England. Taylor & Francis.
    i) Jesch, J., Speaking Like a Viking: Language and Cultural Interaction in the Irish Sea Region, pp. 51-60;
    ii) Lee, C., Viking Age Women, pp. 61-70;
    iii) Cavill, P., Battle of Brunanburh in 937: Battlefield Dispatches, pp. 95-108. ISBN 9781138453562.
  • Jesch, J., (2015). The Viking Diaspora. Routledge. ISBN 9781138020764.
  • Jesch, J. (2020). Further thoughts on E18 Satlfleetby. Futhark: International Journal of Runic Studies. 9-10, 201-13. DOI: 10.33063/diva-401054.

Research period

2000 - 2020

Key researchers

Judith Jesch (Professor in Viking Studies)Jayne Carroll (Associate Professor in History of English)Christina Lee (Associate Professor in Viking Studies)

Paul Cavill (Associate Professor in Early English)

Key grants

  • AHRC Follow-on Funding, ‘Bringing Vikings Back to the East Midlands’ (2017-2018), £145,811. PI: Jesch.
  • AHRC Collaborative Skills Development, ‘Languages, Myths and Finds: Translating Norse and Viking Cultures for the 21st Century’ (2013-2014), £59,528. PI: Jesch PI.
  • AHRC Research Fellowship, ‘The Viking Diaspora: A Monograph’ (2013), £61,175. PI: Jesch.
  • AHRC Diaspora, Migration and Identities Strategic Initiative, ‘Viking Identities Network’ (2006-09), £19,905. PI: Jesch. Co-I: Carroll & Lee.
  • European Science Foundation Exploratory Workshop, ‘Migration and Transcultural Identities in the Viking Age’ (2006), £7,589. PI: Jesch. Co-I: Lee.

Related projects

Bringing Vikings Back to the East MidlandsViking Identities Network




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