Prof Richard Dance

Professor of Early English

Fellow of St Catharine's College

Contact Information

St Catharine's College, Cambridge CB2 1RL (+44-1223-338362)
Department of ASNC
Faculty of English, 9 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Office: S-R34 (+44-1223-767311), email:

Departmental and College Responsibilities

Employment history:  Assistant Lecturer [Assistant Professor] 2001–3, Lecturer [Associate Professor] 2003–7, Senior Lecturer [Associate Professor grade 10] 2007–14, Reader [Professor grade 11] 2014–20, Professor [Professor grade 12] 2020–.

  • Teaching in Old English Language and Literature (Part I, Paper 5; Part II, Paper 5) and Germanic Philology (Part II, Paper 11)
  • Supervision of graduate students in Old English Language and Literature
  • Director of Studies in ASNC for Churchill College, Homerton College, Magdalene College, St Catharine’s College
  • Praelector of St Catharine's College

Winner of a 2023 Pilkington Prize for excellence in teaching (

Academic Interests

Old and Middle English language and literature; medieval multilingualism and language contact, especially the influence of Old Norse on English; early English etymology, semantics and dialectology; the language of Old and Middle English literature, including BeowulfAncrene Wisse and the Gawain-poet.

Selected Publications

  • with Sara Pons-Sanz and Brittany Schorn, eds., The Legacy of Medieval Scandinavian Encounters with England and the Insular World, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 34 (Turnhout, forthcoming)
  • 'Arguments Based on Regular Sound Change', in The Oxford Handbook of Etymology, ed. P. Durkin (Oxford, forthcoming)
  • with Sara Pons-Sanz, 'Scandinavian Influence', in The New Cambridge History of the English Language Volume 1, ed. L. Wright (Cambridge, forthcoming)
  • 'Do Words Remember? The Etymologist versus the Vikings' (Leeds International Medieval Congress keynote lecture 2018), in a Proceedings volume ed. J. Čermák and L. Doležalová (Turnhout, forthcoming)
  • 'Strong Language: An Old Norse Word and Northern English', in The Medieval North and Its Afterlife: Essays in Honor of Heather O’Donoghue, ed. S. Grønlie and C. Phelpstead, The Northern Medieval World (Berlin, Boston: Medieval Institute Publications (de Gruyter), 2024), pp. 209–25
  • with Philip Durkin, Carole Hough and Heather Pagan, 'Contact-Induced Lexical Effects in Medieval English', in Medieval English in a Multilingual Context: Current Methodologies and Approaches, ed. S. M. Pons-Sanz and L. Sylvester (London, 2023), pp. 95–121
  • 'The Poetic Field, I: Old and Middle English Language and Poetry', in The Oxford History of Poetry in English, Volume 2: Medieval Poetry 1100–1400, ed. H. Cooper and R. R. Edwards (Oxford, 2023), pp. 71–87
  • 'The Horns of a Dilemma: Finding the Viking Influence on Medieval English Vocabulary', in Textual Reception and Cultural Debate in Medieval English Studies, ed. M. J. Esteve Ramos and J. R. Prado-Pérez (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2018), pp. 101–28
  • 'North Sea Currents: Old English and Old Norse in Comparison and in Contact', in Books Most Needful to Know: Contexts for the Study of Anglo-Saxon England, ed. P. E. Szarmach, Old English Newsletter Subsidia 36 (Kalamazoo, 2016), pp. 61–84
  • 'H. M. Chadwick and Old English Philology', in H. M. Chadwick and the Study of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic in Cambridge, ed. M. Lapidge, Cambrian Medieval Celtic Studies 69/70 (Aberystwyth, 2015), pp. 83–97
  • 'Getting A Word In: Contact, Etymology and English Vocabulary in the Twelfth Century' (The Sir Israel Gollancz Memorial Lecture 2013), Journal of the British Academy 2 (2014), 153–211 (
  • 'Ealde æ, niwæ laʒe: Two Words for "Law" in the Twelfth Century', New Medieval Literatures 13 (2012 for 2011), 149–82
  • '"Tor for to telle": Words Derived from Old Norse in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight', in Multilingualism in Medieval Britain (c. 1066–1520), ed. J. A. Jefferson and A. Putter (with the assistance of A. Hopkins), Medieval Texts and Cultures of Northern Europe 15 (Turnhout, 2013), pp. 41–58
  • with Laura Wright (eds.), The Use and Development of Middle English: Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Middle English, Cambridge 2008, Studies in English Medieval Language and Literature 38 (Frankfurt am Main, 2012)
  • 'English in Contact: Norse', in English Historical Linguistics: An International Handbook, Vol. 2, ed. A. Bergs and L. J. Brinton, Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science 34.2 (Berlin and New York, 2012), pp. 1724–37
  • ‘“Tomarʒan hit is awane”: Words Derived from Old Norse in Four Lambeth Homilies’, in Foreign Influences on Medieval English, ed. J. Fisiak and M. Bator, Studies in English Medieval Language and Literature 28 (Frankfurt am Main, 2011), pp. 77–127
  • ‘The Old English Language and the Alliterative Tradition’, in A Companion to Medieval Poetry, ed. C. Saunders, Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture (Oxford, 2010), pp. 34–50
  • Glossary and assorted Notes in Ancrene Wisse: A Corrected Edition of the Text in Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 402, with Variants from Other Manuscripts, ed. B. Millett, vol. 2, General Introduction, Notes on Text, Glossary and Bibliography, Early English Text Society o.s. 326 (Oxford, 2007 (for 2006))
  • ‘“Þær wearð hream ahafen”: A Note on Old English Spelling and the Sound of The Battle of Maldon’, in The Power of Words: Anglo-Saxon Studies Presented to Donald G. Scragg on his Seventieth Birthday, ed. H. Magennis and J. Wilcox (Morgantown WV, 2006), pp. 278–317
  • ‘Sound, Fury and Signifiers; or Wulfstan’s Language’, in Wulfstan, Archbishop of York: The Proceedings of the Second Alcuin Conference, ed. M.Townend, Studies in the Early Middle Ages 10 (Turnhout, 2004), 29–61
  • ‘The AB Language: the Recluse, the Gossip and the Language Historian’, in A Companion to Ancrene Wisse, ed. Y. Wada (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 57–82
  • Words Derived from Old Norse in Early Middle English: Studies in the Vocabulary of the South-West Midland Texts, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 246 (Tempe, AZ, 2003)
  • ‘Is the Verb Die Derived from Old Norse?  A Review of the Evidence’, English Studies 81 (2000), 368–83
  • The Battle of Maldon line 91 and the Origins of Call: A Reconsideration’, Neuphilologische Mitteilungen100 (1999), 143–54