COLSONOEL 2024 in Review

Putting a halt to in-person events, face-to-face conversations unmediated by a digital screen, and forcing people around the world to re-think how the interacted with each other, COVID-19 also placed a stranglehold on much academic dialogue and conferences experiences. One of the victims of the pandemic era was the Cambridge, Oxford, and London Symposium on Old Norse, Old English, and Latin (COLSONOEL). The last COLSONOEL was due to take place in St. John’s College, University of Oxford in May 2020 but which was sadly cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

In 2024 a new committee at the University of Oxford, headed by Natasha Bradley, and comprising of Ashley Castelino, Simon Heller, and Mary Catherine O’Connor, took up the reins to bring this symposium back to life. In the spirit of its return to the world of conferences and academic discourse, the theme of COLSONOEL 2024 was ‘Rebirth, Renewal, Renaissance’. This symposium for post-graduate students and early career researchers was set up as a supportive and welcoming academic environment for presenters to test new ideas and to share their research. And it is in this vein, that COLSONOEL began again and hopes to continue for many years to come.

COLSONOEL 2024 kicked off on a wet and dismal Friday 3rd May in St Hilda’s College in the Garden Room Suite, which transformed into an exciting day of papers and conversations. Exquisite views stretching over Oxford with its dreaming spires rising to the rain-sodden heavens framed the speakers and their presentations at St Hilda’s as we welcomed ten speakers from Oxford, Cambridge, and Birkbeck.

Considering the question of reception and intertextual relationships in the first session, David Bond West opened COLSONOEL with his paper on ‘Rhetorical Storytelling in Bergr Sokkason’s Mikjáls saga’. Moving from Old Norse to Old English, Mingwei Lu examined the relationships between psalms and elegies in the paper ‘“Hu lange wilt þu, Drihten” – A Comparison of Religious Revival in the Old English Psalms and the Old English Elegies’. Leaping forward to the modern era, Emily Dixon asked what it meant to think through soil and landscapes in her paper ‘Rebirth through soil: The earth of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Beowulf and The Wanderer’.

Following this line of movement to earth-centred evidence and thinking about what can be uncovered through archaeology, Katie Beard opened the second session with her investigation into amulets, ‘Armaments as Amulets in Old Norse in Old Norse Literature and Archaeology’. Daisy Bonsall worked through the theme of the conference in thinking about the multiple uses and re-purposing of textiles in Anglo-Saxon England in ‘A Case for Regifting: Reusing Textiles to Create and Renew Connections in Anglo-Saxon England’.

The inter-relationship of life and death and the possibility of comparing through these ontological concerns took centre stage in session three as Alexia Kirov discussed images and themes of birth and death in ‘Re: birth and death – from (pre-)cradle to grave in Early English Literature’. What are the appropriate responses to the death of king and what is the emotional performance a poet may engage in when his king dies? Molly Bovett looked at some of these questions and more in ‘The Death of the King in Hallfreðar saga vandræðaskálds’. Staying in the realm of Old Norse literature but migrating from the historical world of medieval Norway and Iceland to the world of the mythological texts, Kendra Nydam closed the third session with her paper ‘Thrice-burnt, Thrice-born: Revisiting the Fateful Role of Gullveig in Norse Mythology’.

How different medieval historians and societies think about and write about the past formed a key concern of the concluding papers in the fourth and last session of the day. In ‘Reviving the Gothic Past and justifying a Swedish present in the Festum patronorum regni Suecie’ Adrián Rodríguez turned attention to historiographical concerns in fifteenth-century Sweden. Moving one last time from Scandinavia back to medieval England, Emily Clarke gave the closing paper ‘Reforming the Past: History and Antiquarianism in the English Benedictine Reform’.

An intellectually curious atmosphere and friendly environment created a fertile and productive day of discussions in the form of question-and-answer sessions after the papers as well as more informal conversations in the tea breaks and lunch. The COLSONOEL Committee would like to thank everyone who attended this year’s symposium. We would also like to extend a special thanks to our sponsors, Oxford Medieval Studies and TORCH, who made COLSONOEL 2024 possible. We look forward to the return of COLSONOEL 2025.

Mary Catherine O’Connor, June 2024

Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference 2024: Signs and Scripts

The Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference is back on April 8-9, 2024 with the theme of ‘Signs and Scripts’!


9:30-10:00 Registration (in-person)

10:00-11:30 Session 1: Divine Affectivity

  • Marlene Schilling, ‘Connected through Script – Personifications of time as a distinct form of devotion across Northern German Convents’
  • Lucy Dallas, ‘Together in Love: Carthusian Marginalia in the Book of Margery Kempe’
  • Wilhelm Lungar, ‘Communicating Identity on Scandinavian Monastic Seals in the Middle Ages’

11:30-12:00 Break with refreshments

12:00-13:30 Session 2: Scribes & Song

  • Peter Fraundorfer, ‘Did somebody write a Latin-Greek Sammelband for the monastic school of Reichenau Abbey?’
  • Thomas Phillips, ‘1000 Years Later: Reconstructing Fragments of the Anglo-Saxon Office of St. Alban’
  • Ellen Hausner, ‘A Threefold Bursting Sun: the symbolic vocabulary of the Ripley Scroll’

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:00 Session 3: Visual Signs

  • Elena Lichmanova, ‘Mirror Writing and the Art of Self-Reflection’
  • Furqon Muhammad Faiz, Tori Nuariza Sutanto, ‘Early Islamic Seals on Sumatra’s West Coast: Inscriptions and Cultural Significance’
  • Ilari Aalto, ‘Tracing Brickmakers’ Marks in Late Medieval Finland’

16:00-16:30 Break with refreshments

16:30-17:30 Keynote Address 1: Professor Sophie Page

17:30 Drinks Reception

18:30/19:00 Conference Dinner (optional)


10:00-11:30 Session 4: Objects & Collections

  • Megan Gorlitz, ‘Old English Riddles and Anglo-Saxon Reading Practices’
  • Marc Lawson, ‘Wielding the Word: The Symbolism of Book Satchels in Early Irish Christianity’
  • Charlotte Wood, ‘Signals of Death: Comb placement in cremations’

11:30-12:00 Break with refreshments

12:00-13:30 Session 5: Palaeography

  • Sebastian Dows-Miller, ‘Signs in (Manu)scripts: Towards a New Study of Scribal Abbreviation’
  • Max Hello, ‘Ornamenting and Writing: An aesthetic approach to Merovingian book writing (7th-8th centuries)’
  • Corinne Clark, ‘A Wild Dragon Appears: Difficult Significations in the Life of St. Margaret’

13:30-14:30 Lunch

14:30-16:00 Session 6: Codicology

  • Elliot Vale, ‘Missing the Point: Punctuating Prose/Poetry in CCCC 201’
  • Jemima Bennet, ‘Fragments in Fifteenth-Century Oxford Bookbinding’
  • Rhiannon Warren, ”Þad er nu eydilagt’? AM 241 b I fol as a Case Study of Árni Magnússon’s Collection and Manipulation of Icelandic Latin Liturgical Manuscripts

16:00-16:30 Break with refreshments

16:30-17:30 Keynote Address 2: Dr Hannah Ryley

17:30 OMGC 2025 Theme Selection + Closing Remarks

Call for Papers

We are delighted to announce this call for papers and invite proposals relating to all aspects of the broad topic ‘signs and scripts’ in the medieval world. Submissions are welcome from all disciplinary perspectives, whether historical, literary, archaeological, linguistic, interdisciplinary, or anything else. There are no limitations on geographical focus or time period, so long as the topic pertains to the medieval period.

Areas of interest may include but are not limited to:

  • Semiotics and semantics
  • Ways of (mis)reading
  • Palaeography and codicology
  • Spiritual / cosmological signs
  • Codes and conduct
  • Behavioural script
  • Dramatic script; theatre
  • Monuments; inscriptions
  • Heraldry; signboards
  • Graffiti and marginalia
  • Scripts of the body; tattoos
  • Textiles

We ask that all presenters attend in person with hybrid participation available for attendees who cannot travel to the event.

Submission Guidelines

Papers should be a maximum of 20 minutes. A limited number of bursaries are available to help with travel costs, and we welcome applications from graduate students at any university.

Please send abstracts of 250 words to by 17th December, 2023.

The text reads ' OMGC 2023. Save the Date! Online and in Oxford, 20th - 21st April, 2023 ', and is overlaid on a manuscript, a 15th century preist's vade medum, Bodleian Library MS. Douce 18, f. 44 v. This folio is the calendar page for April.

Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference 2023

The Oxford Medieval Graduate Conference is back on April 20-21, 2023 with the theme of ‘Names and Naming’!

The conference takes place fully hybrid, in Oxford and online. Follow us on Twitter @OxMedGradConf and In the meantime, check out the conference website (, with its extensive digital collection of Oxford medieval medical manuscripts and its blog featuring some excellent articles on past conference themes. If you’d like to contribute a blog post or have any questions about the conference, you can get in touch at

20 Apr, 09:00 – 21 Apr, 18:00. Online & In-Person at Ertegun House, Oxford
Register here for free to participate remotely


9:55-10:00 Opening Remarks

10:00-11:30 Session 1: Individual & Unique

  • Tristan Alphey, ‘Nicknames in Early Medieval England and Social Regulation’
  • Will Hoff, ‘In the name of Robin Hood: a new look at byname evidence for the outlaw tradition’
  • Sebastian Dows-Miller, ‘Jean from Saint-Quentin: who was he, and does it matter?’

12:00-13:30 Session 2: Patterns & Variations

  • Madeleine Killacky, ‘Rubricating Names in Malory’s Le Morte Darthur
  • Birger Mård, ‘Name-phrase variation in the Arboga municipal court records (1450–1569)’
  • Marina Ilia, ‘Naming Patterns in Venetian Cyprus’

14:30-16:00 Session 3: Reading the Land

  • Abigail Lloyd, ‘How to find a medieval settlement by the name of a hill? A challenge to the Gelling and Cole hypothesis’
  • Christophe de Coster, ‘‘Hic Sunt Dracones’: data-driven analysis of the (un)changing nature of toponyms and its implications for toponym-based landscape-reconstructions
  • Em Horne, ‘An Examination of the value of place-names as evidence for the history, landscape and, especially, language(s) of the Lancashire Coast’

16:30-17:30 Keynote Address 1 Dr David Zakarian, ‘The World through the Eyes of Medieval Armenian Scribes’


10:00-11:30 Session 4: Genealogies & Histories

  • Claire Lober, ‘Monuments to Meaning in the Historia and Brut y Brenhinedd
  • Deepashree Dutta, ‘The Little Kingdom of Bishnupur: Naming, Self-Fashioning and Making of a Vaishnava Devotional Realm’
  • Jodie Miller, ‘Naming and Moral Lineage in Les Enfances de Renart

12:00-13:30 Session 5: Identification & Definition

  • Jack Nunn, ‘Anthological Identities: Naming Names in the Robertet Manuscripts’
  • Wyn Shaw, ‘Naming, Gender and Transition in Old French Chansons de Geste
  • Nancy Michaud, ‘Masons’ Marks in the York Minster: Using masons’ marks to understand the construction of the York Minster’

14:30-16:00 Session 6: Unseen & Unknown

  • Hillel Feuerstein, ‘Satan is a List: Naming Demons in Medieval Kabbalah’
  • Ilinca-Simona Ionescu, ‘Naming Household Spirits: a Lexicographic Perspective on Late Medieval Spain’
  • Rodrigo Ballon Villanueva, ‘Naming God: A More Radical Medieval Theory?’

16:30-17:30 Keynote Address 2 Professor Richard Dance, ‘The Name Game: The Etymologist vs. the Vikings’

17:30-17:45 OMGC 2024 Theme Selection + Closing Remarks