Ryan Foster (Northern Scholars Scholarship.)

Thesis title: Norse shielings in Scotland: An interdisciplinary study of setr/sætr and ærgi-names.

PhD in Scandinavian Studies

Year of study: 5

  • School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.
  • Post-graduate Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

Contact details

PhD supervisor:


I hold a BA (hons) degree in Modern European Studies from Nottingham Trent University, where my dissertation looked at the effect of migration on the European Union. After completing a PGCE in Geography at the University of Nottingham I worked as a geography teacher for a number of years. I later completed an MA in Lake District Studies, where my dissertation tried to answer the question: 'Are thwaite-names an example of an early medieval landnám in the Lake District?'.

I was the part of the Nordic Research Network Conference 2015 organising committee, held at the University of Edinburgh in February 2015.



BA (hons) Modern European Studies (History and Geography), Nottingham Trent University.

PGCE (Geography), The University of Nottingham.

MA (merit) Lake District Studies, Lancaster University.

Research summary

  • Viking diaspora
  • Scandinavian settlements in the Viking Age
  • Viking Age society, culture and economy
  • Viking Age rural economy
  • Cultural contacts between Vikings and natives

Current research interests

Viking place-names Medieval rural settlement patterns Early Medieval farming systems Landscape studies

Past research interests

Viking Settlement in the Lake District. Migration patterns and their causes and effects Rural settlement The effects of human activity on the environmental

Past project grants

Northern Scholars Scholarship
SEK 30,000 grant from the Åke Wiberg Stiftelse, Sweden (with Ian Giles, Barbara Tesio, Chris Cooijmans & Laura Chapot).
£2000 grant University of Edinburgh’s Researcher-led Initiative Fund (with Ian Giles & Barbara Tesio).


‘The use of the Scandinavian Place-Name Elements -sætr and -ærgi in Skye and the Outer Hebrides: a site and situation study’, in Cooijmans, C. (ed.), Traversing the Inner Seas: Contacts and Continuity around Western Scotland, the Hebrides and Northern Ireland. Edinburgh: Scottish Society for Northern Studies, Forthcoming.

Edited Books

Beyond Borealism: New Perspectives on the North (working title). Ian Giles, Laura Chapot, Christian, Cooijmans, Ryan Foster, and Barbara Tesio (eds.), Proceedings from the 2015 Nordic Research Network Conference. London: Norvik Press, Forthcoming.

  • ‘Viking shielings in Northern Britain: sætr and ærgi names’, The Viking World: Diversity and Change, Conference 27th July-2nd September, University of Nottingham.
  • ‘Thwaite names in Cumbria: Evidence of a Viking landnám or not?’ Bridges Between: Norse and Insular Worlds AD 500-1500, Northern Research Network day conference May 4th 2016, University of Glasgow.
  • ‘The Old Norse Place-Name Element ærgi in Scotland’, Norse and Native in Northwest Europe, Scottish Society for Northern Studies day conference, 21st may 2015, University of Edinburgh.
  • ‘The Use of the Scandinavian Place-Name Elements -sætr and -ærgi in the Scottish Hebrides’, Interdisciplinary Student Symposium on Viking and Medieval Scandinavian Subjects – 19th-20th of March 2015, Aarhus University.
  • ‘The use of the Scandinavian Place-Name Elements -sætr and -ærgi in the Hebrides: a Site and Situation Study’, Scottish Society for Northern Studies: Coll & Tiree Conference 7th – 11th April 2015.
  • ‘Farming in Medieval Scandinavian Law Codes: Regional differences and changing practices?’, The 4th Nordic Research Network Conference, 18-19 February 2015, University of Edinburgh.
  • ‘When is a sætr not a sætr? Planning an interdisciplinary study of sætr and ærgi place-name elements in the Viking Age’, Scottish Society for Northern Studies, Northern Ireland Conference: Hinterlands of the North Irish Sea, 8th - 11th April 2014.