Dr Philip A. Shaw

Personal interests | Publications | Research | Teaching | Supervision

Associate Professor in English Language and Old English

Department: EnglishDr Philip A. Shaw

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 5363

Email: ps209@le.ac.uk

Office: Room 1615, Attenborough Tower

Address: School of Arts, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH

Personal details


I joined the then School of English (later School of Arts) in 2009, after postdoctoral work and a lectureship at the University of Sheffield. My specialisms lie in early medieval languages and literatures, with particular interests in the development of writing systems, onomastics, paganism and processes of manuscript textual transmission. I have published on topics including Old Norse mythography, Old English charms, hairstyles in Old English literature, miracles of the Virgin Mary, Anglo-Saxon coin inscriptions, the development of the term peregrine falcon and the metrical chronicle attributed to Robert of Gloucester.


  • BA, English Language and Literature, Oxford University
  • PhD, Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
  • Fellow of the UK Higher Education Academy



  • Pagan Goddesses in the Early Germanic World: Eostre, Hreda and the Cult of Matrons (London: Bristol Classical Press, 2011)
  • (with Charles Barber and Joan C. Beal), The English Language: A Historical Introduction, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
  • (edited, with Richard Corradini, Christina Pössel and Rob Meens), Texts and identities in the early Middle Ages (Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2006)
  • (edited, with Penny Eley, Penny Simons, Catherine Hanley and Mario Longtin, Partonopeus de Blois: An Electronic Edition (Sheffield: HriOnline, 2005)

Journal articles and book chapters

  • 'Anglo-Saxon Responses to Scandinavian Myth and Religion', in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Research and Reception Volume I: From the Beginnings into the Nineteenth Century (Turnhout: Brepols, 2018)
  • (with Malene Lauritsen and others), 'Celebrating Easter, Christmas and their associated alien fauna', World Archaeology, 50 (2018), 285-99
  • 'Personal Names from Ethnonyms? Scandinavia and Elsewhere', Nomina, 36 (2015), 53-73.
  • 'The metrical chronicle attributed to Robert of Gloucester and the textual transmission of Layamon's Brut', in Marie-Françoise Alamichel (ed.), Layamon's Brut and Other Medieval Chronicles (Paris: l'Harmattan, 2013), pp. 267-92
  • 'Telling a hawk from an herodio: on the origins and development of the Old English word wealhhafoc and its relatives', Medium Ævum, 82 (2013), 1-22
  • 'Adapting the roman alphabet for writing Old English: Evidence from coin epigraphy and single-sheet charters', Early Medieval Europe, 21 (2013), 115-39
  • 'The composition of the metrical chronicle attributed to Robert of Gloucester', English Manuscript Studies: 1100-1700, 17 (2012), 140-54
  • 'Coins as Evidence', in Terttu Nevalainen and Elizabeth Closs Traugott (eds), The Oxford Handbook of the History of English (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 50-52
  • 'The role of gender in some Viking-Age innovations in personal naming', Viking and Medieval Scandinavia, 7 (2011), 157-78
  • 'Robert of Gloucester and the Medieval Chronicle', Literature Compass, 8 (2011), 700-709.
  • 'Coin epigraphy and early Old English variation: Explorations in the Corpus of Early Medieval Coin Finds', Studies in Variation, Contacts and Change in English, 7 (2011)
  • 'Orthographic Standardization and Seventh- and Eighth-Century Coin Inscriptions', in Tony Abramson (ed.), Two Decades of Discovery (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2008), pp. 97-112
  • 'The origins of the theophoric week in the Germanic languages', Early Medieval Europe, 15 (2007), 386-401
  • 'The Manuscript Texts of Against a Dwarf', in Alexander R. Rumble (ed.), Writing and Texts in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge: Brewer, 2006), pp. 96-113
  • 'The Dating of William of Malmesbury’s Miracles of the Virgin', Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 37 (2006), 391-405
  • 'Hair and Heathens: Picturing Pagans and the Carolingian Connection in the Exeter Book and Beowulf-Manuscript', in Richard Corradini, Rob Meens, Christina Pössel Philip Shaw (eds), Texts and Identities in the Early Middle Ages (Vienna: Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2006), 345-57
  • (with Penny Eley), 'A Tarantula in Your Bed? A Lexical Problem in Partonopeus de Blois', Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 107 (2006), 307-21
  • 'Miracle as Magic: Hagiographic Sources for a Group of Norse Mythographic Motifs?', in K. E. Olsen, A. Harbus and T. Hofstra (eds), Miracles and the Miraculous in Medieval Germanic and Latin Literature (Leuven: Peeters, 2004), pp. 189-204
  • 'A Dead Killer? Saint Mercurius, Killer of Julian the Apostate, in the Works of William of Malmesbury', Leeds Studies in English, n.s. 35 (2004), 1-22


My research is broadly philological in character, focussing on detailed linguistic analysis of  medieval texts in order to illuminate questions of language and of intellectual, religious and literary culture. Interdisciplinary approaches that cross literary, linguistic, historical and archaeological have been of key importance in my work, and in recent years I have also begun to work with specialists in other areas such as genetics and zooarchaeology on larger scale interdisciplinary projects such as the Leverhulme-funded 'The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain: Evidence, Memories, Inventions' and the AHRC-funded 'Exploring the Easter E.g.: Shifting Baselines and Changing Perceptions of Cultural and Biological "Aliens"'. I am currently working on the development of the narrative materials of Beowulf and on linguistic and literary evidence for perceptions of hares in the classical and medieval periods.


  • EN1040 History of the English Language
  • EN2030 Beginnings of English Literature
  • EN2035 Viking Myths and Sagas
  • EN2045 Reading Old English
  • EN3142 English Place-Names
  • EN3160 Advanced Old English

I also supervise undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and contribute to other modules including:

  • ML2020 The Latin World
  • EN7223 Editing and Textual Cultures


I have supervised doctoral projects on topics including Anglo-Saxon charms, Old English orthography and medieval scribal practices.

I am currently co-supervising Thomas Fowler, who is working on zooarchaeological methods for identifying different types of hare in the archaeological record.

I would be interested in supervising PhD projects on the following broad topics:

  • Paganisms and their representations (especially in early medieval Europe)
  • Onomastics: in particular medieval Germanic-language personal naming practices
  • Old English language and literature
  • Approaches to editing and studying medieval manuscripts

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