Reading List

“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” – Roald Dahl (1913-1990).

I wouldn’t recommend following such drastic advice as offered above as there are actually many informative and exciting historical programmes to watch on TV! But nothing beats a good book.

I’ve listed a series of book recommendations that I’ve found useful or interesting in the study of history ranging from the academic tome to the historical novel. If anyone else has any recommendations, please do contact me through my Facebook page, I’m always interested to find out more.

Books

Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe (Penguin, 2012) – a heavy tome but worth reading. Challenges our retrospective approach to writing history.

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Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas (Oxford, 2016) – Brilliant book (see my interview with Eleanor here) seeking to explore the Norse world from the perspective of the Norse using the sagas.

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Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History (London, 2008) – explores the role and misuse of history in modern society. Stresses the responsibilites of historians.

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Else Roesdahl, The Vikings (Third Edn, Penguin, 2016) – broad sweep of the history of the Vikings. Good introduction.

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William Golding, The Spire (London, 1964) – classic which seeks to take the reader on a journey into the medieval mindset. Brilliant.

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Edmund King, Medieval England: From Hastings to Bosworth (The History Press, 2009) – fantastic broad sweep of this period without sacrificing the exciting details.

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Crossley-Holland, Kevin (ed.), The Anglo-Saxon World (Oxford, 1982) – wonderful collection of Anglo-Saxon poems, riddles and other literary works including Beowulf.

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Davies, John, A History of Wales (London, 2007) – a comprehensive sweep of Welsh history from the beginnings of the geographical area of ‘Wales’ to the modern nation.

Journal Articles

S. Coupland, ‘The Rod of God’s Wrath or the People of God’s Wrath? The Carolingian Theory of the Viking Invasions’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 42:4 (1991), pp. 535-54 – a discussion on the idea that the Vikings were sent as a divine punishment for the moral laxity and corruption of Christendom.

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B. Smith, ‘The Picts and the Martyrs, or Did Vikings Kill the Native Population of Orkney and Shetland?’ Northern Studies 36 (2001), pp. 7-32- a look at what happened to the Pictish population of the Northern Isles. Were they wiped out or did they inter-marry with the Norse colonisers?

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J. Barrett, ‘What Caused the Viking Age?’, Antiquity 82:317 (2008), pp. 671-85- a brief look at some of the possible explanations for the Viking Age (c. 793 to 1066) including economic, demographic, religious or political factors.

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D. Rollason, M. Harvey and M. Prestwich (eds.) , Anglo-Norman Durham 1093-1193 (Suffolk, 1994) – a fantastic collection of articles exploring the archaeology and history of the Norman reinvention and rebuilding of Durham. Particularly good for the architectural development of Durham cathedral and castle including articles from leading historians.

Popular Articles

‘History of Durham 101’ published in Palatinate (29th Sept. 2018)- brief article introducing new students to the history of Durham including how Durham has been interpreted by Sir Walter Scott and Joseph Turner (https://www.palatinate.org.uk/history-of-durham-101/).

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‘Searching for St Valentine’ published in Palatinate (14th Feb. 2019) – a quick look at the man, and the myths associated with him, behind St Valentine’s Day (https://www.palatinate.org.uk/searching-for-st-valentine/).

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‘Towering above us: The story of Durham Cathedral’s Tower’ published in Palatinate (7th Mar. 2019)- an exploration of the story behind Durham’s recently restored tower and its meaning for the residents and students of Durham (https://www.palatinate.org.uk/towering-above-us-the-story-of-durham-cathedrals-tower/).

Enjoy reading!

(Featured image by Meister des Maréchal de Boucicaut [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. I don’t take responsibility for any of the content of web links on this page.)