Early Medieval Studies

This area of research is represented in the School by Prof Diana Whaley, though there is a wider community of interest within the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Newcastle, particulalry in the Medieval and Early Modern Studies @ Newcastle group. The Icelandic Reading Group, and the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, also contribute to the research culture in this area.

Old Norse-Icelandic texts are a major focus of activity. Diana Whaley has published widely on early Icelandic sagas and historical writings and on skaldic poetry, but her current research concentrates on the editing of skaldic poetry. She is one of six General Editors and directors of the forty-strong international project Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages, producing, from the manuscripts, a nine-volume fully annotated edition with parallel electronic version, published by Brepols, 2007–. The work in Newcastle, especially on praise poetry for Scandinavian rulers from mythological times to c. 1035, has been supported by an MHRA Research Assistantship and by an AHRC Major Research Grant, and greatly assisted, from 2003-2006, by Research Associate Dr Kate Heslop; her contract having ended she has now taken up a research post at the University of Zurich. Skaldic symposia have been hosted both in Newcastle and, jointly with Dr Matthew Townend, at the Centre for Medieval Studies, York (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006), and Diana Whaley has contributed to recent symposia in Kiel, Copenhagen,Reykjavik and Cambridge.

In the field of English place-names, Diana Whaley is the author of A Dictionary of Lake District Place-Names (2006), and has an ongoing interest in the place-names of Northumberland and the greater Anglian kingdom of Northumbria, the theme of recent papers given to the Newcastle conference ‘Early Modern Northumbria’, co-organised by Dr Sam Turner of the School of Historical Studies, and to conferences of the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland, 2006 and 2010. She works closely with colleagues in the field, especially as a member of the Council of the English Place-Name Society and of a panel overseeing its publication of The Place-Names of Durham, based on the research of the late Victor Watts. Within Newcastle University she is a member of the ‘Cultural Significance of Place’ Research Group.

Recent research students include Mark Wood, working on ‘Bernician Transitions: Romano-British to Anglo-Saxon in North-East England and South-East Scotland’ (AHRC-funded; co-supervised with archaeologist Kevin Greene, 2009), and Dr Adam Mearns (AHRC-funded PhD, ‘The Lexical Representation of Monsters and Demons in Old English Literature’, 2004). Adam Mearns has held temporary lectureships and research associateships in Sheffield and Newcastle and is currently finalising publications on lexical aspects of Old English poetry. Current doctoral projects are ‘Hill-terms in the place-names of the historic counties of Northumberland and Durham’ (Terhi Nurminen) and ‘Landscape and Memory: Thirlmere’ (Rod Grimshaw, co-supervised with archaeologist Dr Sam Turner).