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Dr Kathy Holman

Profile summary

Professional biography

I have worked as an Associate Lecturer with the Open University (2003-2020), tutoring on many modules including AA100 The Arts Past and Present, A111 Discovering the Arts and Humanities, A225 The British Isles and the Modern World, 1789-1914, and A219 Exploring the Classical World. I have also worked as a Senior Faculty Manager within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the Open University. I am a longstanding Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Previously, I worked as Lecturer in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Hull (1997-2003), where I was responsible for developing and teaching a number of undergraduate modules on the Viking Age in the British Isles and Scandinavia, runes and runic inscriptions, and Scandinavian history across the medieval and modern periods. I was also a member of the interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval Studies.

I have degrees in both History and Archaeology, and I obtained my PhD, Scandinavian Runic Inscriptions: Their Historical Context, from the University of Nottingham in 1996 (published under the same title by Tapir, Trondheim, as volume four in the Senter for middelalderstudier series). I have also spent time researching Viking-Age and medieval runic inscriptions at the Universities of Gothenburg and Uppsala (in Sweden) and Trondheim (in Norway).

Publications include The Northern Conquest and Historical Dictionary of the Vikings.  

Research interests

I am particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches to the history of early medieval Britain and Scandinavia, especially the impact of Scandinavian settlement on the British Isles and the evidence provided by runic inscriptions for early medieval society and culture in northern Europe. A long-standing interest of mine is the continued contact betweeen Britain and Scandinavia in the period after 1066, as well as the legacy of Viking settlement in those regions that were affected by it. Other interests include place-names, epigraphy - particularly changing customs of commemoration from the medieval to the Victorian periods in the British Isles - and Scandinavian culture and history in general.

Research awards include:

  • Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Scholarship for post-doctoral research proejct: Literacy and Runic Inscriptions in Medieval Norway (Department of Scandinavian Studies, University of Trondheim, Norway, 1996-97)
  • Swedish Institute Scholarship for postgraduate research project: Viking-Age Expeditions to England: The Runic Evidence (Department of Scandinavian Languages, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 1995-96) 
  • Swedish Institute Scholarship for postgraduate research project: The Christianisation of Södermanland, Sweden (Department of History, University of Gothenburg, Sweden, 1991-92)

Impact and engagement

I have presented research papers at many national and international conferences, including the International Conference on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, Michigan; the International Medieval Congress at Leeds; the Thirteenth Viking Congress in Nottingham; and the Fourth International Runic Symposium in Göttingen, Germany.

Recently, I've contributed blogs to the Centre for the Study of the Viking Age's Virtual Museum on the East Midlands: 'Watling Street, the Danelaw, and the East Midlands' and 'Everyday Writing in Runes in Lincoln'. I've also written a short article on the legacy of the Hanseatic League in northern Europe and a review of Tiina Nunnally's translation of Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian Folktales in CoScan Magazine 2019/2. My review of M. P. Barnes's The Runic Inscriptions of the Isle of Man will be published in Isle of Man Studies, 2020.

External collaborations

I am a member of the editorial board for the Confederation of Scandinavian Societies' CoScan Magazine ( Previous collaboration includes: consultant to Viking Heritage newsletter 1999-2003; council member of the Viking Society for Northern Research 1998-2001; 2002-2005; contributor to the International Medieval Bibliography 1996-1999.

I also organised (with my colleague Jon Adams) a two-day international conference, Scandinavians and Europe 800-1350: Contact, Conflict and Co-Existence (22-23 May 1999), for Hull's Centre for Medieval Studies. Twenty-five papers from this conference were edited and published: Jon Adams and Katherine Holman (eds) (2004) Scandinavians and Europe 800-1350: Contact, Conflict and Co-Existence. Turnhout: Brepols.