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Durham University

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Dr David Ashurst, B.Sc. Mathematics; B.A. English; M.A. Medieval Studies; Ph.D. Old Norse

Associate Professor in the Department of English Studies
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 42563
Room number: Stables 1, Hallgarth House

Contact Dr David Ashurst (email at

Dr Ashurst’s main field of research is Old Norse-Icelandic literature, particularly that associated with the court of Hákon Hákonarson, king of Norway (1217-63). Following his study of Alexanders saga, an Old Norse-Icelandic account of Alexander the Great which was written for Hákon’s son, he has also worked on Alexander literature in Old and Middle English and Middle Scots. In addition he is a member of a group of ten Old Norse scholars from leading universities in Iceland, Germany, Poland, Denmark and England, which meets regularly to exchange research papers on heathen and Christian beliefs within the medieval north. The main post-medieval topic on which he is currently writing is the literary work of William Morris, particularly the influence of Old Norse literature on Morris's erotic imagination.

Research Interests

  • Old Norse-Icelandic
  • Medieval literature on Alexander the Great
  • Literary work of William Morris

He is interested in supervising postgraduate students working on any aspect of Old Norse-Icelandic studies, literature about Alexander the Great (whether medieval or modern), or the literary works of William Morris and other figures relevant to Victorian medievalism.

Recent and current PhD students under his supervision have been working on the following: saga portrayals of travel to far-off lands; the Latin antecedents for a medieval Icelandic account of the pilgrim route to Rome; the copying of medieval manuscripts in seventeenth-century Iceland; Anglo-Saxon concepts of the inner man; representations of empowered females in Old Norse literature; and the characteristics of feminine sanctity in Old Icelandic hagiography.

Research Groups

Department of English Studies

Indicators of Esteem

  • :
  • : Hon. Assistant Secretary of the Viking Society for Northern Research, since 2004.
  • : Review regularly for Saga-Book.

Selected Publications

Authored book

Chapter in book

Edited book

Journal Article

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