O. D. Macrae-Gibson

O. D. Macrae-Gibson

O. D. (Duncan) Macrae-Gibson (1928-2007) taught Old English at the University of Oxford, and then for many years at the University of Aberdeen. He designed his 'Learning Old English' course with great dedication, detailed knowledge of the principles of language teaching, and a thorough understanding of the academic tools (and human empathy) students require when learning a mediaeval language.

This revised edition by Aideen O'Leary and Zhangfeng Xu includes lessons (which include text in Old English, idiom and pronunciation practice), the cassette recordings (now in digitised form), written exercises, a list of grammatical terms and an index. References to Old English grammar books and readers (which you will find from Lesson 4 onwards) have been expanded and updated. The accompanying audio-visual CD, which is found at the back of this book, contains the original sound recordings; to these visual prompts have been added to aid effective learning. The CD follows the book’s structure and includes a variety of sound recordings (e.g. readings of the texts, explanations of grammar, practice exercises and grammar drills) along with the visual cues. Together, the book and the CD provide for a fully active learning experience in Old English.

As Derek McClure writes:

O. D. (Duncan) Macrae-Gibson was a stalwart specimen of a declining species, the academic specialist in Old English and Old Norse. His abounding enthusiasm was for Old English, and this passion fuelled his entire teaching and research career. Completion of his Oxford doctorate was followed by a short period on the academic staff there, and subsequently by a move to Leicester. Duncan, however, though a Londoner by birth, came of Scottish stock; and the call of his ancestral homeland brought him in 1965 to the University of Aberdeen, where he was to spend the greatest part of his scholarly career, maintaining the teaching of Old English, Middle English and Old Norse with legendary enthusiasm. Naturally, a scholar whose teaching and published research, notably editions of The Rhyming Poem and Of Arthour and Merlin, had earned him an unchallengeable reputation would not abandon his work after retirement. His interest in hiking and hill-walking proved an asset during summers camping in Iceland and exploring the battlefields of the Sagas, and during the exhaustive examination of the Maldon terrain which led to a landmark article ‘How historical isThe Battle of Maldon?’ (Medium Ævum XXXIX:2, 89-107). His musical gifts too were occasionally turned to professional use: he is surely the only scholar in recent times who could sing ‘Caedmon’s Hymn’ accompanying himself on a reconstructed Sutton Hoo harp. Duncan Macrae-Gibson was a man of many parts – scholar, sportsman, musician, linguist – whose contribution to the field of Old English is enormous; but those who had the privilege of knowing him personally will always remember him as an inspiring and imaginative teacher, a much-admired colleague and friend, and a devoted family man.