Professor in Early English and Name-Studies, Faculty of Arts
I was educated at University College London (BA English Literature and Language), King's College London (MA English Language and Literature before 1525), and the Universities of Nottingham (PhD) and Iceland (as the recipient of the Government of Iceland Ministry of Education, Science and Culture scholarship). I held lectureships at University College Dublin and the Universities of Sheffield and Leicester before coming to Nottingham in 2009 to direct the Institute for Name-Studies.
English place-names; Old English and Old Norse language and literature; the history of the English language.
I am Honorary Secretary of the English Place-Name Society (EPNS). I am currently involved in four externally-funded research projects:
- The place-names of Shropshire: a four-year AHRC-funded project to complete the EPNS survey of Shropshire;
- Learning the Landscape through Language: an AHRC project following on from the work in Shropshire;
- Flood and flow: place-names and the changing hydrology of river-systems (with the Universities of Leicester, Southampton, and Wales);
- Enhancing UK Flood Resilience: a two-year AHRC network (with the University of Leicester)
I am also working with Staffordshire Record Office, where a volunteer group is collecting historical place-name spellings, preparatory work for a project to complete the EPNS survey of the county of Staffordshire.
Outreach and public engagement
I am engaged upon a programme of outreach activities in connection with the above projects. My work on Shropshire place-names included a series of talks in Shropshire and curating three exhibitions, in Oswestry, Ludlow, and Shrewsbury.
My teaching draws on my research in Old English and Old Norse language and literature, and in English place-names.
Undergraduate modules taught
Beginnings of English (level 1); Names and Identities (level 2); English Place-Names (level 3); Dissertation (level 3)
Postgraduate modules taught
Place-Names in Context; Reading Old English; Dissertation
I was principal investigator for the AHRC-funded research project, The Place-Names of Shropshire. Colleagues within the Institute for Name-Studies and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studes… read more
I welcome students who are interesting in pursuing research on English place-names, on Old English language and / or literature, and on the history of the English language.
Current research students:
Kathryn Bullen: The place-names of the Isle of Axholme (M4C-funded)
Ellen Chaplin: The place-names of Devon (Lifton Hundred)
Abigail Lloyd: Hill toponyms and their use as medieval settlement-names (M4C-funded)
Fiona McKinlay: Horses in early medieval England: the place-name evidence.
Joshua Neal: Scandinavian place-names in England (bý-names) (M3C-funded)
Corinna Raynor: Plant place-names
Paul Shaw: Cultures, crops and choices: new insights into Anglo-Scandinavian farming and settlement from analysis of terroir (M4C-funded)
Jessica Treacher: The Arboreal Toponym: place-name evidence for the use and management of trees in early medieval England (M3C-funded)
I was principal investigator for the AHRC-funded research project, The Place-Names of Shropshire. Colleagues within the Institute for Name-Studies and the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studes (University of Wales) have collaborated to finish the English Place-Name Society survey of Shropshire. Six volumes, authored by Margaret Gelling, were published between 1990 and 2012. The seventh volume, by John Baker, was published in 2018, and two further volumes were published in 2020 (Part 8, by John Baker and Jayne Carroll, and Part 9, by Paul Cavill). I was co-investigator on the follow-on project, Learning the Landscape through Language: Shropshire place-names and child education, also funded by the AHRC, and am currently principal investigator on the AHRC IAA project, Place-Names and Landscape Futures in the Upper Onny area (Shropshire).
I am co-I on two further externally-funded projects. One, funded by The Leverhulme Trust, Flood and Flow, place-names and the changing hydrology of river-systems, involves the Universities of Leicester, Southampton, and Wales, as well as Nottingham. This project draws on place-name evidence to study river flooding and water/land management during the period c.700-1100AD, the last major episode on record of rapid warming and weather extremes. The second, Enhancing UK Flood Resilience, follows on from this: it is an AHRC-funded network designed to bring together academics and flood defence professionals.
I am also working on Staffordshire place-names, in collaboration with Staffordshire Record Office and a group of SRO volunteers. Their work can be found on the Staffordshire Place-Names site.
My doctoral thesis, 'Poetic Discourse in Viking Age England', examined verse produced in English in the tenth and eleventh centuries in Old English, Old Norse, and Latin. Work from this thesis has appeared in the Review of English Studies and as chapters in edited volumes. I have contributed to the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project, as editor of Markús Skeggjason's verse (in vol. 2, published in 2009) and of Þórðr Kolbeinsson's Eiríksdrápa (vol. 1, 2012). Work on Old English heroic verse has appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English (2010).
I was one of the four founder members of the AHRC-funded Viking Identities Network. I was co-investigator on the Leverhulme-funded project, Landscapes of Governance: Assembly Sites in England, 5th-11th centuries.
The Vikings in Britain and Ireland , co-authored with Stephen Harrison and Gareth Williams, was published by the British Museum in 2014, and timed to coincide with their exhibition, Vikings - Life and Legend.
Work from recent projects includes an edited volume (with Andrew Reynolds and Barbara Yorke), from the Leverhulme-funded Landscapes of Governance project (OUP, 2019) and a chapter in Migrants in Medieval England, ed. J. Story, E. M. Tyler, and W. M. Ormrod (OUP, October, 2020), work that I produced as a member of the project team from the Leverhulme programme, The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: Evidence, Memories, Inventions (2011-16).