Alan Macniven

Senior Lecturer

  • Scandinavian Studies
  • Department of European Languages and Cultures
  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures

Contact details



Room 3.09
50 George Square

Post code


  • If there’s anything you’d like to discuss, you’re welcome to come along to my regular ‘Office Hours’ on Thursdays from 2–4 pm in 50 George Square, Rm. 3.09. Otherwise, please knock on my office door and come in to check when I’m available, or e-mail me to make an appointment on


  • MA, MSc, PhD (Edinburgh)
  • PGCE (Cumbria)
  • PGCUT (Edinburgh)

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Convener, Scottish Place-Name Society
  • Committee Member, Scottish Society for Northern Studies
  • Representative for Scotland, Viking Congress
  • Trustee, Finlaggan Trust
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
  • Member, Cross Party Group on the Nordic Countries

Administrative roles

  • Head of Scandinavian Studies
  • Convener of the Northern Scholars' Scheme
  • DELC: Scandinavian Studies, Year Abroad Coordinator
  • DELC: Scandinavian Studies, Library Officer
  • Personal Tutor

Undergraduate teaching

1st & 2nd Year

  • Scandinavian Literature 2 (Course Organiser)
  • Scandinavian Civilisation A (Course Organiser)
  • Scandinavian Civilisation B (Course Organiser)


  • History of the Scandinavian Novel
  • Scandinavian Place-Name Studies
  • Old Norse Literature & Society (Course Organiser)
  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)

Postgraduate teaching

  • Viking Studies (Course Organiser)
  • Old Norse Literature & Society (Course Organiser)
  • The Material Culture of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic Scotland (Course Organiser)

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

Dr Macniven is very happy to consider proposals for PhD and MSc (R) projects on all aspects of the Viking Age, especially those with a multi-disciplinary focus, or an emphasis on place-names or Scotland. He would also welcome proposals for research projects on more modern developments in Scandinavian, and particularly Swedish, literature, language and culture.

Current PhD students supervised

Anthony Jay Olsson (PhD), Heroic journeys to Lochlann and Bretland as tropes: What are the joint motifs and intercultural connections between the fantastic exploits of Faroese and Irish/Scots Gaelic balladry? 

Jess Nutt (PhD), An inter-disciplinary investigation into the Viking’s presence in Early Medieval Wales using evidence of conflict.

Lynn Schoenbeck (PhD), Bog bodies, and their place in Danish national identity.

Past PhD students supervised

Dr Daniel Haycraft (2022): Famine, Fever, Flood, and Conquest: The Impact of Natural Disasters on the Ninth-Century Rise of the Vikings in the Carolingian Empire According to the Royal Frankish Annals, the Annals of Xanten, the Annals of St Bertin, and The Annals of Fulda.

Dr Ryan Foster (2018): Norse Shielings in Scotland: An interdisciplinary study of setr/sætr and ærgi-names.

Dr Christian Cooijmans (2018): Of Monarchs and Hydrarchs: A Conceptual Development Model for Viking Activity across the Frankish Realm (c. 750-940 CE).

Dr Ian Giles (2018): Tracing the Transmission of Scandinavian Literature to the UK: 1917-2017.

Dr Katarzyna Aleksiejuk (2016): Names on the Internet: Towards Electronic Socio-onomastics.

Dr Dominic Hinde (2015): Our shared future: The rhetorics of modern Swedish environmentalism.

Dr Ersev Ersoy (2012): Social reality and mythic worlds: reflections on folk belief and the supernatural in James Macpherson's Ossian and Elias Lönnrot's Kalevala.

MSc by Research

Elizabeth Bradbury (2018): Hel and Hekate: The Feminization of Death in the Norse and Greek Mythoi.

Eric Cain (2012): Insecurity in the Unresolved: The Game of Literature Experience and [Un]resolution in Swedish Crime and Horror Fiction of Mankell’s Mördare mot ansikte, Lindqvist’s Låt den rätta komma in, and Roman’s Mörkrädd.

Marilyn Amedro (2011): Reflections on the Instability of Place and Identity in the first two novels of William Heinesen.               

Dominic Hinde (2011): A perceived utopia?: Four narratives on the environment in Sweden.

Research summary

Alan's current research focuses on cultural interaction, principally between Norse and native in western maritime Scotland during the Viking Age. Although dogmatically interdisciplinary, the main source material for this work comes from the names of places and associated settlement studies. Specific interests include: immigrant naming practices in fully occupied and named landscapes; the nature and extent of cultural transitions at the beginning and end of Scotland’s Viking Age; and the evidence for Viking Age military infrastructure in Scotland. Alan's recent monograph, 'The Vikings in Islay' (2015, John Donald) has been shortlisted for the Saltire Society's 'Research Book of the Year' award.

Project activity

ÌLE: Islay Life Explorer

Alan curates the ÌLE - The 'Islay Life Explorer' Project, which collates and presents a wealth of thematically layered data on the Hebridean island of Islay free of charge for personal use.

View all 18 publications on Research Explorer