Our PhD students conduct research in a wide variety of subject areas--to find out more about their work click on the tabs below.

Beñat Elortza

Thesis title: The Europeanisation of the Scandinavian Military Apparatus in the High Middle Ages, c. 1030-1202: A Comparative Approach

Research: I graduated with an MA in History from the University of the Basque Country in 2013, and went on to study Medieval and Early Modern Studies in the University of Aberdeen from 2013-2014. My research interests include state-building in medieval Scandinavia, most areas of military history, and naval and shipbuilding history of the Middle Ages. My doctoral project, which I started in 2014, deals with European influence and military transformation in high medieval Scandinavia, ca. 1035-1200, with a special focus on the role of European influence on royal power and the shift of foreign policy. I am currently supervised by Professors Michael Gelting and Stefan Brink.

Hilde Nielsen

Thesis title: Music and Musical Instruments in Pre-Christian Scandinavia – an archaeomusicological study in a historical context

Research: In my PhD project Music and Musical Instruments in Pre-Christian Scandinavia – an archaeomusicological study in a historical context, I am investigating the use of music and sound in pre-Christian Scandinavia, with a particular focus on the Nordic Iron Age. This is a topic which has not been researched a great deal previously, but I am following in the footsteps of two Scandinavian archaeomusicologist, Cajsa Lund and Gjermund Kolltveit, who has been at the pioneering force for music archaeology in Scandinavia the past few years. Being a historian, rather than an archaeologist I hope to bring a new perspective to the pre historic archaeomusicological research in the Nordic countries with interdisciplinary research using history, archaeology, archaeomusicology, musicology and art history.

Heidi Synnøve Djuve

Thesis title: Contextualising the Scandinavian specula principum

Research: Before coming to Aberdeen, I studied at the Institute of Languages and Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway. My current research focuses on a tradition of political writings meant to educate young monarchs, princes and leaders. This tradition is commonly referred to as specula principum, or mirrors for princes. The aim is to compare and contextualise the two representatives of the Scandinavian specula; Konungs Skuggsjà and Konungastyrelsen. Through a comparative examination of the texts, I intend to evaluate the interconnectivity and exchange of culture and ideas between Scandinavia and Europe during the medieval period.

Keith Ruiter

Thesis title: Against the laws of gods and men: an interdisciplinary study of deviance in early medieval Scandinavia

Research: Having previously studied a BA at the University of Alberta and an MA at the University of York, I came to the University of Aberdeen in 2015 to pursue my doctorate. For my doctoral project, I am conducting interdisciplinary research on topics surrounding normative transgression and exploring the relationship between deviance and normativity in early medieval Scandinavia. The project is supervised by Dr Hannah Burrows and Professor Stefan Brink and generously supported by the University of Aberdeen's Elphinstone Scholarship scheme. More generally, my work endeavours to use interdisciplinary methodologies to contextualise and deepen understandings of normativity, social inclusion, and cultural accommodation in the past.

Stefan Drechsler

Thesis Title: [klaustrit] at helga felle aa bok þessa. The illuminated manuscripts from Helgafell

Research: I am an SGSAH/AHRC funded PhD student working on a particular group of illuminated fourteenth century Icelandic manuscripts from the Augustine monastery of Helgafell. Before coming to Aberdeen, I received in 2012 a Magister Artium (M.A.) in Nordic Philology, Art History and Philosophy from the Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel and in 2010 a Master of Arts (First Class) in ‘Medieval Icelandic Studies’ from the Háskóli Íslands.

My interdisciplinary project covers the fields of Old Norse-Icelandic philology and medieval art history and is supervised by Dr Hannah Burrows and Prof Jane Geddes. As an Old Norse philologist and art historian with a strong background in Scandinavian manuscript studies, I go beyond traditional approaches to the origins of the Helgafell manuscripts, examining the hypothesis that the roots of Helgafell’s art are not found exclusively in Iceland, but also in Norway and East Anglia. Employing an interdisciplinary approach it will be possible to give a detailed perspective on the cultural site of Helgafell and its artistic connections to other ecclesiastical and secular scriptoria, both in Iceland and abroad. The research will investigate the specific use of iconography in the context of the textual, social, religious and economic relations of the time. Furthermore, an overview of the activity of the monastery will be provided by investigating historical accounts such as church inventories, annals and the contemporary vernacular literature.

Michael Frost

Thesis Title: A Prosopographical Study of Bishops' Careers in Northern Europe

Research: Before coming to Aberdeen I studied at the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at Cambridge University. My current research, supervised by Prof. Stefan Brink and Dr. Sarah Thomas, is concerned with five dioceses - Skálholt and Hólar in Iceland, Kirkjubøur in the Færoe Islands, Garðar in Greenland and Kirkwall in Orkney - which lay within 'skattlands' subject to the Norwegian crown. Specifically, I will be investigating the careers of the bishops who held office in these dioceses in the late mediaeval period, with the aim of reconstructing their family backgrounds and social networks, and examining how these connections influenced their episcopal careers.

Blake Middleton

Thesis title: An Examination of the development of the Norse Giants from their myths to the sagas, þættir and skaldic poetry in which they appear

Research: Blake comes to Aberdeen from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States. He has a keen interest in early medieval Norse and Insular narrative literature. He has previously studied at Penn State University, obtaining his BA in Medieval Studies with a minor in English and at the University of Glasgow where he completed an MLitt in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, focusing on the supernatural within Icelandic sagas. He began his PhD at the Centre for Scandinavian Studies in 2013. Blake’s PhD project focuses on the Giants within Old Norse mythology, sagas, þættir and skaldic poetry.