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Dr Eric Lacey is Lecturer in English language. He has previously taught at the department of English at University College London and the Department of History at the University of Winchester.
His research interests lie at the intersections of history, linguistics and literature, and are largely oriented around the ways in which people perceived and rationalised their experiences and their environment. He is currently completing a monograph titledBirds and Bird-lore in the Literature of Anglo-Saxon England, and, with Martin Locker, is editing a collection of essays on medieval attitudes towards, and perceptions of, the stars and the sky (provisionally titled Starcræft: Watching the Heavens in the Middle Ages). He is also currently working on the formation of the scientific tradition in Middle English, the development of falconry in early and high medieval Europe, and is a contributor to the Year’s Work in English Studies, where he reviews scholarship on Old English.
Eric is Programme Leader for the BSc English Linguistics with BSc English Linguistics with Forensic Linguistics. In addition to Old and Middle English, Eric teaches Proto-Indo-European, semantics, the history of the English language, and syntax and morphology.
Eric is Co-Convener of the interdisciplinary Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Research.
Eric values public engagement with research and has taken part in Winchester Heritage Open Days and the Being Human Festival of the Humanities. He has also lent his expertise to the development of historical video games such as Assassin's Creed and Winchester's immersive visitor attraction 878AD, which brings Anglo-Saxon Winchester to life.

Areas of expertise

  • Old English language and literature
  • Old Icelandic (commonly known as Old Norse) language and literature
  • Historical linguistics, particularly Proto-Indo-European, Early Germanic, and Germanic-Celtic contact
  • Onomastics
  • History of the English language
  • Cognition, perception, and the development of zoological disciplines


Recent Publications

  • ‘The Charter Evidence for Falconry and Falcon-catching in England and Wales, c.600 c.1100’, in Premodern Falconry and Bird Symbolism interdisciplinary and practical considerations with a certain emphasis upon Northern Europe, 3 volumes, ed. O. Grimm and U. Schmölke (Wachhotltz, 2016).
  • ‘Birds and words: Aurality, Semantics and Species in Anglo-Saxon England’, in Sensory Perception in the Medieval World: Manuscripts, Texts, and other Material Matters, ed. S. Thomson and M. Bintley (Brepols, 2016), pp.75-98.
  • ‘When is a hroc not a hroc? When it is a crawe or hrefn!: A Case-Study in Recovering Old English Taxonomies’, in The Art, Literature and Material Culture of the Medieval World, ed. M. Boulton, J. Hawkes and M. Herman (Four Courts, 2015), pp.138-152.
  • Beowulf’s Blithe-hearted Raven’, in Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia, ed. M. Bintley and T. Williams (Boydell, 2015), pp.113-130.
  • with Kris Poole, 'Avian Aurality in Anglo-Saxon England’, World Archaeology 46:3 (2014), 400-15.


  • Malcolm Lambert, Pagans and Christians: the Conversion of Britain from Alban to Bede, in Southern History 35 (2013), 131-3
  • Patrick J. Murphy, Unriddling the Exeter Book Riddles, in English Studies 94:5 (2013), 618-20
  • Sharon M. Rowley, The Old English Version of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, in English Studies 94:3 (2013), 346-7

In progress / forthcoming

  • Monograph - Birds and Bird-lore in the Literature of Anglo-Saxon England
  • Edited collection with Martin Locker Starcræft: Watching the Heavens in the Middle Ages
  • Book chapter - ‘Falconry and Folk-lore: the origins of ornithology in fourteenth-century England’
  • Book chapter - ‘A Malmesbury connection with The Seafarer? Problems and possibilities’
  • Article - ‘The Afterlife of the Early Medieval Beasts of Battle topos’
  • Article ‘Gulls, gullets and gullibles: The etymology and folk-etymologies of gull (n.2) and its homonyms’?

Selected invited presentations and conference papers

  • ‘Setting out after The Seafarer: Trying to place the poem’s composition’, ‘Place and Space in the Medieval World’, conference held at the University of York, May 2015
  • ‘English Exiles and Irish Itinerants: Exploring Insular Pelagic Pilgrimages’, ‘Winchester Medieval Research Day’, part of the University of Winchester Research Events Week, held at the University of Winchester, April 2015
  • ‘Geac geomran reorde and cog, hiraethawc y llef: Revisiting the Problem of the Poetic Cuckoos in Old English and Middle Welsh’, ‘Crossing Borders in the Insular Middle Ages, c.900-1500’, conference held at the University of Marburg, April 2015
  • ‘Sounding the death knell: cacophony and the foreboding beasts of battle in Old English literature’, ‘Horror, the Macabre, and the Supernatural’, one-day symposium held at Canterbury Christ Church University, August 2013
  • A bird in hand is worth two in the bush’: Falcons and Falconry in Early Medieval Scandinavia’, invited seminar at the Medieval Scandinavian Seminar Series jointly organised by UCL/Viking Society for Northern Research, May 2013
  • ‘An interdisciplinary approach to the Exeter ‘swan’ riddle’s ferende gæst’, invited seminar at the London Old and Middle English Research Seminar (LOMERS) series, held at Senate House, May 2013
  • ‘Searching for the fuweles qualeholde: the Middle English afterlife of the ‘Beasts of Battle’ topos’, ‘Stasis in the Medieval World’, conference held at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, April 2013
  • ‘Hygelac and the Happy Bird: An Interpretation of Beowulf’s Blithe-hearted Raven’, ‘COLSONOEL [Cambridge Oxford London Symposium on Old Norse, Old English and Latin], conference held at Newnham College, Cambridge, May 2012
  • ‘Listening to the songs of The Seafarer: Modern Ornithology and Ancient Seascapes’, ‘Borderlines XVI Site and Sound’, conference held at Queens University Belfast, April 2012
  • ‘Malignant or Just Plain Mad? The Bizarre Magic of the Early Middle Ages’, talk at the Winchester History Society, November 2011

Media appearances

  • BBC Radio 4 programme ‘The Seafarer’, discussing the Old English poem of that name. Interviewed April 2012, aired July 2012
  • BBC Radio 4 Programme ‘Questions Questions’ discussing the origins of collective nouns using palaeographic and linguistic criteria, interviewed and aired July 2011


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