Aberdeen has one of the largest concentration of experts on early Scandinavia in the British Isles. This is marked by the Centre for Scandinavian Studies (CfSS), founded in 2007. Central research themes include Early Scandinavian law, Landscape and society, and Pre-Christian religions. Click on the tabs below to find out more about areas of research in Scandinavian Studies.

Scandinavian Studies in Aberdeen

Students pursuing the PhD in Scandinavian Studies have the opportunity to be supervised by experts in Viking and medieval Scandinavia, Old Norse and Old Swedish language and literature, Scandinavian toponymy and runology, medieval history, landscape history and legal history. The University of Aberdeen has several leading international scholars who can supervise postgraduates in the Centre for Scandinavian Studies, as well as in the immediate academic vicinity in other departments.


We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work in Scandinavian Studies at the doctoral level. Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.

Professor Stefan Brink: Supervision is offered on language and History in the Early Germanic World; Viking Slavery; Society and Culture of Early Scandinavia; Scandinavian Landscape History; Germanic Place-Names and Early Law in Scandinavia.

Professor Ralph O'Connor: Supervision is offered in comparative heroic literature; history of popular / public science in the 19th and 20th centuries; science, myth and literature since 1700.

Dr Hannah Burrows: Supervision is offered in Old Norse literature and cultural production, especially the Íslendingasögur, Eddic and Skaldic poetry, literary-legal relations in early Iceland.

PGR Students

Some current (and graduated) students and their projects from the University of Aberdeen include:

  • Cattlyn Obel, The West Semitic origins of Thor’s combat with Jormungandr
  • Heidi Synnøve Djuve, Contextualising the Scandinavian specula principum
  • Stefan Drechsler, [klaustrit] at helga felle aa bok þessa. The illuminated manuscripts from Helgafell
  • Beñat Elortza, The Europeanisation of the Scandinavian Military Apparatus in the High Middle Ages, c. 1030-1202: A Comparative Approach
  • Andrea Freund, Runic writing in the diaspora - expression of a Norse Identity?
  • Michael Frost, A Prosopographical Study of Bishops' Careers in Northern Europe
  • Deniz Cem Gülen, Sources of Knýtlinga saga
  • Blake Middleton, An Examination of the development of the Norse Giants from their myths to the sagas, þættir and skaldic poetry in which they appear
  • Hilde Nielsen, Music and Musical Instruments in Pre-Christian Scandinavia – an archaeomusicological study in a historical context
  • Keith Ruiter, Against the laws of gods and men: an interdisciplinary study of deviance in early medieval Scandinavia

The following are some selected publications relating to Scandinavian Studies by staff at the University of Aberdeen:

Professor Stefan Brink

  • Stefan Brink (Aberdeen), and John Lindow (Berkeley), 'Place Names in Eddic Poetry', in A Handbook in Eddic Poetry. Myths and Legends of Early Scandinavia, ed. C. Larrington et al. (Cambridge University Press 2015) (pp. 173-89).
  • 'Kyrkobyggande enligt Upplandslagen och Hälsingelagen', in Kyrklig rätt och kyrklig orätt : kyrkorättsliga perspektiv. Festskrift till professor Bertil Nilsson, ed. M. Berntson & A. M. Ciardi (Bibliotheca theologiae practicae 97) (Skellefteå: Artos 2016), pp. 41-52.
  •  'Transferred Names and Analogy in Name-formation', in The Oxford Handbook of Names and Naming, ed. C. Hough (Oxford UP 2016), pp. 158-66.
  • 'Librum legum terre Hælisingie : the inspection and approval of versions of the law-book of the Hälsingar', in The power of the book : medial approaches to medieval Nordic legal manuscripts, ed. L. Rohrbach (Berliner Beiträge zur Skandinavistik 19) (Berlin: Humbolt Universität 2014), pp. 157-62.
  • New Approaches to Early Law in Scandinavia, ed. by Stefan Brink and Lisa Collinson (Acta Scandinavica 3) (Brepols 2014).

Professor Ralph O'Connor

  • 'Astronomy and dream visions in late medieval Iceland: Stjörnu-Odda draumr and the emergence of Norse legendary fiction'. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol 111, no. 4, pp. 474-512.    
  • 'History or fiction? Truth-claims and defensive narrators in Icelandic romance-sagas'. Mediaeval Scandinavia, vol 15, pp. 101-169.
  • 'Stepmother Sagas: An Irish Analogue for Hjálmþérs saga ok Ölvérs'. Scandinavian Studies, vol 72, no. 1, pp. 1-48.
  • 'Putrid Fables and True Histories: Perceptions of Authenticity and the Management of Scepticism in Northern Humanist fornaldarsaga Scholarship'. in M Driscoll, S Hufnagel, T Lansing & J Love (eds), The Legendary Legacy: Transmission and Reception of the Fornaldarsögur Norðurlanda. Museum Tusculanums Forlag.
  • 'The Destruction of Da Derga's Hostel: Kingship and Narrative Artistry in a Mediaeval Irish Saga'. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Dr Hannah Burrows


Some helpful links for further information and resources in Scandinavian Studies include: