The following reading lists are designed for both prospective and current students and aim to give an impression of the subject matter of each of the various papers. We do not expect that you will read everything on these lists before you arrive in Cambridge, but we strongly recommend that you engage in some background reading for the papers that you intend to study. In most cases the books listed below are relatively inexpensive (most are paperback: pb), and may be available from (or can be ordered from) any normal bookseller or your local library.

Paper 1 - England before the Norman Conquest

  • J. Campbell, E. John & P. Wormald, The Anglo-Saxons (pb, Penguin)
  • N. J. Higham & M. J. Ryan, The Anglo-Saxon World (Yale, 2013)
  • M. Lapidge, et al., ed., The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Anglo-Saxon England, (pb, Blackwell)
  • R. Naismith, Early Medieval Britain c. 500-1000 (Cambridge, 2021)
  • F.M. Stenton, Anglo-Saxon England (pb, Oxford University Press)
  • Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and other Contemporary Sources, trans. S. Keynes & M. Lapidge (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People, trans. L. Sherley-Price, rev. R.E. Latham & D.H. Farmer (pb, Penguin Classics)

Paper 2 - Scandinavian history in the Viking Age

  • P. Foote and D.M. Wilson, The Viking Achievement (pb, Sidgwick and Jackson)
  • Íslendingabók. Kristni saga. The Book of the Icelanders. The Story of the Conversion, trans. Siân Grønlie (
  • S. Brink, N. Price, eds., The Viking World (pb, Routledge)
  • R.I. Page, Chronicles of the Vikings (pb, British Museum Publications)
  • P. Sawyer, ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings (pb. Oxford University Press)
  • S. Sturluson, King Harald's Saga, trans. M. Magnusson & H. Palsson (pb. Penguin Classics)

Paper 3- The Brittonic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth

  • Anon., The Life of St Samson of Dol, tr. T. Taylor (pb, Reprint, Dyfed, 1991)
  • Anon./Nennius, History of the Britons, ed. & tr. J. Morris (Chichester, 1980)
  • T. M. Charles-Edwards, Wales and the Britons, 350-064 (Oxford, 2013)
  • W. Davies, Wales in the Early Middle Ages (Leicester, 1982; 1989)
  • Gildas, The Ruin of Britain, tr. M. Winterbottom (Chichester, 1978; 2002)
  • K. Maund, The Welsh Kings (Stroud, 2002)
  • Julia M.H. Smith, Province and Empire: Brittany and the Carolingians (Cambridge, 1992)
  • S. M. Foster, Picts, Gaels and Scots (London, 1996)
  • J. Fraser, From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795 (Edinburgh, 2009)

Paper 4- The Gaelic-speaking peoples from the fourth century to the twelfth

  • Adomnán, Life of St Columba, tr. R. Sharpe (pb, Penguin Classics, London, 1991)
  • E. Bhreathnach, Ireland in the Medieval World AD 400–1000: Landscape, Kingship and Religion (Dublin, 2014)
  • T.M. Charles-Edwards, Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000)
  • T.M. Charles-Edwards, ed., The Chronicle of Ireland, 2 vols (Liverpool, 2006)
  • D. Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Ireland 400–1200 (London, 1995)
  • N. Edwards, The Archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland (London, 1990; 1996)
  • S. M. Foster, Picts, Gaels and Scots (London, 1996)
  • J. Fraser, From Caledonia to Pictland: Scotland to 795 (Edinburgh, 2009)
  • A. Woolf, From Pictland to Alba, 789–1070 (Edinburgh, 2007)

Paper 5 - Old English language and literature

  • B. Mitchell, An Invitation to Old English and Anglo-Saxon England (pb, Blackwell)
  • B. Mitchell and F. C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English, 8th ed. (pb, Blackwell)
  • S.A.J. Bradley, Anglo-Saxon Poetry (pb, Dent: Everyman)
  • M. Swanton, Anglo-Saxon Prose (pb, Dent: Everyman)
  • M. Godden and M. Lapidge, The Cambridge Companion to Old English Literature (pb, Cambridge University Press)
  • H. Magennis, The Cambridge Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature (pb, Cambridge University Press)

Paper 6 - Old Norse language and literature

  • The Sagas of Icelanders, A Selection (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • Snorri Sturluson: Edda, trans. A. Faulkes (pb, Dent: Everyman)
  • The Poetic Edda. trans. C. Larrington (Oxford World's Classics)
  • A. Faulkes, ed., A New Introduction to Old Norse, Part II Reader (pb Viking Society)
  • M. Clunies Ross, ed., Old Icelandic Literature and Society (Cambridge University Press)
  • M. Clunies Ross, The Cambridge Introduction to the Old Norse–Icelandic Saga (Cambridge University Press)
  • C. Larrington, J. Quinn and B. Schorn, eds. A Handbook to Eddic Poetry (Cambridge University Press)
  • H. O’Donoghue. Old Norse Literature. A Short Introduction (Oxford University Press)

Paper 7 - Medieval Welsh language and literature

  • The Mabinogion, trans. S. Davies (pb, Oxford World’s Classics); or trans. G. & T. Jones (pb, Everyman); or trans. J. Gantz (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • T. Conran, trans., The Penguin Book of Welsh Verse (pb, Penguin); reprinted as Welsh Verse (pb, Seren)
  • G. Lewis and R. Williams, trans., The Book of Taliesin: Poems of Warfare and Praise in an Enchanted Britain (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • K. Jackson, A Celtic Miscellany (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • Dafydd ap Gwilym:
  • O. J. Padel, Arthur in Medieval Welsh Literature (pb, University of Wales Press)

Paper 8 - Medieval Irish language and literature

  • G. Murphy, Early Irish Lyrics (pb, Dublin: Four Courts)
  • J. Gantz, trans., Early Irish Myths and Sagas (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • F. Kelly, A Guide to Early Irish Law (pb, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies)
  • The Táin, trans. T. Kinsella (pb, Oxford University Press)
  • D. Ó Cróinín, Early Medieval Ireland, 400-1200 (pb, Longman)

Paper 9 - Insular Latin language and literature

  • M. Lapidge, 'The Anglo-Latin Background', in S.B. Greenfield & D.G. Calder, A New Critical History of Old English Literature (New York University Press)
  • R. C. Love, 'Insular Latin Literature to 900', in The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature, ed. C. A. Lees (Cambridge, 2013), pp. 120-57
  • The Age of Bede. Bede: Life of St Cuthbert. Eddius Stephanus: Life of Wilfrid. Bede: Lives of the Abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow. The Voyage of St Brendan, trans. J.F. Webb & D.H. Farmer (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People, trans. L. Sherley-Price, rev. R.E. Latham & D.H. Farmer (pb, Penguin Classics)
  • Gildas: The Ruin of Britain and Other Works, trans. M. Winterbottom (pb, Phillimore)
  • St Patrick: His Writings and Muirchú's Life, trans. A.B.E. Hood (pb, Phillimore)

Paper 10 - Palaeography and codicology

  • J. Backhouse, et al., ed., The Golden Age of Anglo-Saxon Art 966-1066 (pb, British Museum Publications)
  • B. Bischoff, Latin Palaeography: Antiquity and the Middle Ages (pb, Cambridge University Press)
  • M. Brown, A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600 (British Library)
  • L. Webster, et al., ed., The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon Art and Culture AD 600-900 (pb, British Museum Publications)
  • L. Webster & M. Brown, ed., The Transformation of the Roman World AD 400-900 (pb, British Museum Publications)