Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr. Alan Macniven

Senior Lecturer

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Phone: 0131 650 3279

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

I am very happy to consider proposals for PhD and MSc (R) projects on all aspects of the Viking Age, especially those with a multi-disciplinary focus, or an emphasis on place-names or Scotland. I would also welcome proposals for research projects on more modern developments in Scandinavian, and particularly Swedish, literature, language and culture.

Education/Academic qualification

Master of Arts, University of Edinburgh
Scandinavian Studies with Distinction in Oral Swedish
Master of Science, University of Edinburgh
Master of Science by Research in Scandinavian Studies
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Edinburgh
PhD in Scandinavian Studies

Professional Qualifications

Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Secondary Teaching), PGCE
Postgraduate Certificate in University Teaching, PGCUT

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseScandinavia, Vikings, Sweden, Norden, Nordic, Place-names, Islay, Hebrides


  • MA, MSc, PhD (Edinburgh)
  • PGCE (Cumbria)
  • PGCUT (Edinburgh)
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Committee Member, Scottish Society for Northern Studies
  • Committee Member, Scottish Place-Name Society
  • Representative for Scotland, Viking Congress
  • Trustee, Finlaggan Trust
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Convener of the Northern Scholars' Scheme
  • Member, Cross Party Group on the Nordic Countries

Research Interests

Dr Macniven's current research focuses on cultural interaction, principally between Norse and native in western maritime Scotland during the Viking Age. Although dogmatically interdisciplinary, the main source material for this work comes from the names of places and associated settlement studies. Specific interests include: immigrant naming practices in fully occupied and named landscapes; the nature and extent of cultural transitions at the beginning and end of Scotland’s Viking Age; and the evidence for maricultural practices and military infrastructure in Scandinavian Scotland. Alan's recent Monograph, The Vikings in Islay (2015, John Donald), was shortlisted for the Saltire Society's 'Research Book of the Year' award.



  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)
  • Old Norse Studies (Course Organiser)
  • The Material Culture of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic Scotland (Course Organiser)

1st & 2nd Year

  • Swedish 1
  • Scandinavian Literature 2
  • Literature & Culture in Medieval Europe 2
  • Scandinavian Civilisation A (Course Organiser)
  • Scandinavian Civilisation B (Course Organiser)


  • History of the Scandinavian Novel
  • History of the Scandinavian Languages
  • Scandinavian Place-Name Studies
  • Old Norse Studies (Course Organiser)
  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)


Research students

Completed PhD Projects

  • Dr Katarzyna Aleksiejuk (2016): Names on the Internet: Towards Electronic Socio-onomastics.
  • Dr Dominic Hinde (2015): Our shared future: The rhetorics of modern Swedish environmentalism.
  • Dr Ersev Ersoy (2012): Social reality and mythic worlds: reflections on folk belief and the supernatural in James Macpherson's Ossian and Elias Lönnrot's Kalevala.

Completed MSc by Research Projects

  • Eric Cain (2012): Insecurity in the Unresolved: The Game of Literature Experience and [Un]resolution in Swedish Crime and Horror Fiction of Mankell’s Mördare mot ansikte, Lindqvist’s Låt den rätta komma in, and Roman’s Mörkrädd.
  • Marilyn Amedro (2011): Reflections on the Instability of Place and Identity in the first two novels of William Heinesen.               
  • Dominic Hinde (2011): A perceived utopia?: Four narratives on the environment in Sweden.

Current PhD Projects

  • Christian Cooijmans: The Viking Age Low Countries within a Wider Context of Continental Scandinavian Encroachment.
  • Ryan Foster: When is a sætr not a sætr? An interdisciplinary study of sætr and ærgi place-name elements in the Viking Age.
  • Ian Giles: Tracing the Transmission of Scandinavian Literature to the UK: 1917-2017.
  • Dan Haycraft: The Impact of Natural Disasters on 9th Century Carolingian France.

Current MSc (R) Projects

  • Kevin Luschen: Aspects of Viking Age Sword Culture in Scotland.
  • Elizabeth Bradbury: Facets of the Feminine in Old Norse Religion.

Research activities & awards

  1. Scotland's Nordic Connections: Cultural, Economic and Historical

    Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk

  2. Scottish Society for Northern Studies: Annual Day Conference

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  3. Nordic Branding and the Reception of the Nordic Model Abroad

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

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