Nordic Research

The Northern Scholars Lectures: Felix Riede

About the lecture

Moments of crisis – volcanic eruptions, environmental impacts and past societal change in the northern past

By Professor Felix Riede

Richard Tipping and colleagues noted in 2012 that major societal transformations in Scottish prehistory can be seen as ‘moments of crisis’ precipitated by climate change. In my lecture, I will build on this suggestion and focus on three such moments in the northern past, from the deep time of the Late Pleistocene to the not at all so distant 6th century AD. I present three cases, one each from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages, where distant volcanic eruptions are implicated in societal change through their impacts on past lives and livelihoods. Finally, I place the study of such ancient calamities and the societal transformations they may have been involved in a wider environmental humanities perspective.

About the speaker

Felix Riede was born in Germany and educated in Durham (BA) and Cambridge (MPhil and PhD). He then took up a prestigious British Academy Post-doctoral Fellowship at UCL before moving on to a tenure-track Assistant Professorship in Aarhus. He has since been successful at attracting numerous third-party grants, including highly competitive cross-domain funding from the Independent Research Fund Denmark’s Sapere Aude programme on two occasions, as well as, most recently from the European Research Council. He was Head of Department (February 2015 – February 2018), after which he was appointed Professor. Felix is strongly committed to Open Science, to promoting junior researchers, and to promoting women in the sciences. 

Felix has authored or co-authored well over 60 peer-reviewed as well as numerous non-peer-reviewed and dissemination publications in four languages and in journals whose disciplinary scope spans from lithic analysis and evolutionary archaeological theory and method through archaeological and quaternary science to quantitative social science and, last but not least, natural hazard studies. He is published both in Nature as well as in museum yearbooks with mostly local reach. These publications strike the balance between single-author and multi-author efforts, and he remains committed to team efforts in research and to exploring fully collaborative intellectual work in the humanities. In addition to these research publications, he has contributed to online resources such as, and the Semiotics Encyclopedia Online, and has written several book reviews, invited comments, editorials and science communication papers. His research is also featured regularly in the national and local Danish press and internationally on the Internet. Felix loves radio and has featured both on the BBC’s Natural Histories programme as well as on Danish national radio. Felix has authored a major monograph on the Final Palaeolithic in southern Scandinavia and its relationship with the Laacher See eruption and has edited three books on past human|environment relations; he is also special issue editor of one Quaternary International volume on volcanism and human societies and one on rapid vs- gradual cultural change in relation to climatic and environmental factors from the Late Pleistocene to the middle Holocene. A further special journal issue on socio-ecological disequilibrium in the Arctic has just been published with Human Ecology.


This lecture is part of the Northern Scholars series and of the RIGLE Lectures at the University of Edinburgh. It is free to attend but booking is essential.

Book for the lecture for free on Eventbrite [external website]

Departmental seminar

As part of his Northern Scholars visit to Edinburgh, Professor Felix Riede will also be giving a Geosciences departmental seminar in the Geography Lecture Theatre (2.13) on Drummond Street at 12pm on Tuesday 22nd January 2019. The one-hour seminar is entitled 'Geoarchaeological perspectives on the Laacher See eruption (13ka BP) and its human impact in central and northern Europe'.

Book for the departmental seminar for free on Eventbrite [external website]

About the Northern Scholars 

The Northern Scholars Scheme was established at the University of Edinburgh in 1956.

Its role is to foster co-operation between scholars of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and colleagues in the University of Edinburgh.

Mutual areas of interest include aspects of linguistics, and historical and other cultural studies which are common to these countries and to Scotland. 

Each year, the Northern Scholars Scheme Committee sponsors visits by scholars of the member countries to Edinburgh, during which time they give departmental seminars and public lectures.

Recent Northern Scholars include Professor Jens Peter Schjødt (Aarhus University), Dr Svetlana Pogodina (University of Latvia), Dr Danita Burke (University of Southern Denmark), and Professor Klemens Kappel (University of Copenhagen).

Are you interested in Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh?

We are the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate honours programmes in Scandinavian Studies, enabling you to learn modern Danish, Swedish or Norwegian in the context of Scandinavian culture, past and present. We also welcome candidates for postgraduate research degrees (MSc by Research and PhD) in various aspects of Nordic languages, literature, history, culture and society.

Find out more about Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh 

Jan 23 2019 -

The Northern Scholars Lectures: Felix Riede

'Moments of crisis – volcanic eruptions, environmental impacts and past societal change in the northern past'. A free public lecture by visiting Northern Scholar Professor Felix Riede (Aarhus University, Denmark).

Geography Lecture Theatre (2.13)
1 Drummond Street