Interdisciplinary Research

Scandinavian Studies

Exploring Scandinavian language, history and culture


Aberdeen is one of very few places in the UK to have a dedicated Centre for early Scandinavian Studies The Centre specialises in the literature, history, language and culture of Viking Age and Medieval Scandinavia (including Iceland and other parts of the ‘viking world’).

Scandinavian Studies in Aberdeen

The Centre for Scandinavian Studies brings together researchers to coordinate research projects, provide PhD supervision and facilitate a postgraduate research community, teach a postgraduate Masters programme in Viking and Medieval Scandinavian Studies, and promotes Scandinavian Studies generally. Our staff and associates also teach undergraduate courses relating to Scandinavian Studies in the History, English, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon, Archaeology and Languages programmes. We run a public seminar series with invited expert speakers and participate in diverse and innovative outreach events in the local community and beyond.


Dr Hannah Burrows works on early Scandinavian literature, culture and society. Her current research examines the language used in Old Norse poetry to express ideas about the natural world and humanity's relationship with it. Hannah is Bibliography Editor for the Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages project, and has edited the poetry from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks. She has also published on literary-legal connections in medieval Iceland, riddles, Norse mythology, and translation.

Professor Ralph O’Connor (PhD [Cambridge]) is Professor in the Literature and Culture of Britain, Ireland and Iceland. He teaches in the departments of Celtic & Anglo-Saxon, History, and English. His Nordic research focuses chiefly on the Sagas of Icelanders, legendary sagas and chivalric sagas, including comparisons with medieval Irish literature; but he welcomes enquiries about graduate research in any aspect of Norse-Icelandic literature. He is the author of Icelandic Histories and Romances (2002) and The Destruction of Da Derga’s Hostel (2013), and is currently completing a monograph on the rise of fiction in mediaeval and modern Icelandic saga-writing, funded by a 2-year Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

PGR Students

The Centre for Scandinavian Studies is home to a tight-knit and supportive postgraduate community. Profiles for postgraduate research students working on projects within Scandinavian Studies may be found here.



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

  • Poetry from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, in M Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry in fornaldarsögur. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages VIII, Brepols, Turnhout, pp. 367-487.
  • 'Some Þing To Talk About: Assemblies in the Íslendingasögur'. Northern Studies, vol 47, pp. 47-75.     
  • 'Enigma Variations: Hervarar saga's wave-riddles and supernatural women in Old Norse poetic tradition'. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol 112, no. 2, pp. 194-216.    
  • 'Rhyme and Reason: Lawspeaker-poets in Medieval Iceland'. Scandinavian Studies, vol 81, no. 2, pp. 215-238.    
  • 'Cold Cases: Law and legal detail in the Íslendingasogur'. Parergon, vol 26, no. 1, pp. 35-55.    
  • 'Legal Knowledge, Literacy and the Shifting Spheres of Power in Medieval Iceland'. Quaestio Insularis, vol 8, pp. 36-50.

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