Explore the Hidden History in English and Icelandic Place-Names

SOJOURN DESCRIPTION: Names preserve the history of the things they signify–but only if you understand how to read them. The names of a vast number of villages, towns, places and cities across England and Iceland were given to them by their earliest residents–the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons whose languages imbued meaning and colorful description to these locations. From Chester (“castle”) to Whitby (“White [ i.e., stone] settlement” ), from Reykjavik (“steaming harbor”) to Vopnafjörður (“Weapon bay”), the names tell of settlers, invasions, conflicts and conversions as the Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans each left their mark on the lands of the North. By learning how to recognize and decipher these ancient names, it is possible to discover the fascinating stories that lie hidden within maps…stories that connect us with history and bring these places to life. Join us on this unique virtual sojourn that explores the hidden meaning in place names and you just may find that you never look at a map the same way again.

During this virtual sojourn you will discover:

  • Translations for Old English prefixes and suffixes
  • How to recognize Anglo-Saxon naming customs
  • How Viking settlers told a story with place names
  • How to decipher place and occupational family names

SOJOURN LEADER: A celebrated medievalist, Anglo-Saxonist, philologist, and speaker of Old English, Professor Michael Drout is Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of Medieval at Wheaton College in Norton, MA. He is co-editor and co-founder of the journal, Tolkien Studies and his many books include Drout’s Quick and Easy Old English (2012), and Beowulf Unlocked: New Evidence from Lexomic Analysis (2016). Drout’s research focuses on computer-assisted statistical analysis of texts and has received three grants from the NEH.

7:00 PM (EASTERN) | 4:00 PM (PACIFIC)

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