Matthew Townend



Matthew Townend’s research interests are in the language, literature and history of Viking Age England, Old Norse poetry, and late Anglo-Saxon literary culture. He is also interested in Anglo-Saxon and Norse medievalism, especially in the nineteenth century.

He is the author of English Place-Names in Skaldic Verse (English Place-Name Society, 1998), Language and History in Viking Age England (Brepols, 2002), and The Vikings and Victorian Lakeland: the Norse medievalism of W.G. Collingwood and his contemporaries (Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2009), and the editor of Wulfstan, Archbishop of York (Brepols, 2004).

He is currently editing the skaldic poems in honour of King Cnut, and writing a book about Viking Age Yorkshire.



My general interests are in Old Norse and Old English language and literature. In particular my research focuses on England and Scandinavia in the ninth to eleventh centuries: I am interested in the language, literature, and history of Viking Age England, Old Norse poetry, and late Anglo-Saxon literary culture. I have written two books on linguistic and literary contacts between the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings, as well as a number of articles examining aspects of Old Norse culture in Viking Age England, and have edited a collection of essays on Archbishop Wulfstan of York (1002-23). My work has endeavoured to show how late Anglo-Saxon England should really be thought of as Anglo-Scandinavian England, and has explored the multifarious relations between Old English and Old Norse language and literature.

I am also interested in the post-medieval reception of the Middle Ages, especially Anglo-Saxon and Norse medievalism in the nineteenth century, and have recently written a book about the author and artist W.G. Collingwood (1854-1932) and the study of the Vikings in the Lake District.

Current projects

I am currently engaged in editing the Old Norse poems in praise of King Cnut (early eleventh-century king of England, Denmark and Norway), as part of a major international project to re-edit the entire corpus of Old Norse skaldic verse (see I am also writing a book about Viking Age Yorkshire.


I am interested in supervising research in any area of Old Norse or late Anglo-Saxon studies, and also in nineteenth-century medievalism. Current and past PhD topics supervised include: the representation of violence in Viking Age England; Viking Age colonialism; drinking culture in Old Norse; the relationship between law and literature in medieval Iceland; kinship in the Viking diaspora; Geoffrey of Monmouth in Iceland; and the Folklore Society in the late nineteenth century.

External activities


  • Hon. Secretary, Viking Society for Northern Research

photo by Ian Martindale

Contact details

Dr Matthew Townend
Department of English and Related Literature
University of York
Y010 5DD

Tel: 44 1904 323922
Fax: 44 1904 323918