Dr Robert Gallagher

I am a cultural, political and literary historian of early medieval Europe with a particular interest in Anglo-Saxon England, its Latin literature and manuscripts. My research primarily focuses on the social, cultural and political roles of the written word, and within this conceptual framework my research encompasses the questions of literacy, authorship, patronage, performance and multilingualism. I have particular interests in Anglo-Saxon charters, Latin poetry, and manuscript ownership and use. Through this work I seek to develop a conceptualization of medieval literary history in its most holistic form: placing, for example, administrative documents next to hagiographies and praise poetry; considering Latin and vernacular writing in dialogue; and looking beyond notions of national literary canons in favour of broader geographical and cultural perspectives.

My PhD thesis, which I completed at the University of Cambridge in 2015, examined the uses of Latin in England during the reigns of Alfred the Great (871–899) and Edward the Elder (899–924), a period that is often characterised in terms of vernacular literary activity. My exploration of language choice in literate settings continued as a postdoctoral researcher on the Languages of Early Medieval Charters project, based at the University of the Basque Country (for more information, see www.ehu.eus/lemc). This doctoral and postdoctoral work provides the foundation for the monograph that I am currently writing, Writing the Realm: Latin and the Written Word in Anglo-Saxon England, AD 838–939.

For my Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, my research into the uses of Latin in Anglo-Saxon England continues with a project entitled 'The Latin Lexicon of Anglo-Saxon England, 871–1016: Networks, Contexts and Uses', in which I am examining the range of Latin vocabulary used by authors in England over the course of the long tenth century, a period during which many writers revelled in the use of unusual, archaic and sometimes newly invented vocabulary. By tracing the use of these words across time, space and genres, in both well-known literature and currently unedited manuscripts, I hope to uncover new connections between authors and texts – within and beyond England – and to chronicle the discourses that contemporary writers were developing.

Early Medieval History, especially Anglo-Saxon England

Medieval Latin



  • Aediluulf’s De abbatibus: a Soteriological Reading

  • King Alfred and the Sibyl: Sources of Praise in the Latin Acrostic Verses of Bern, Burgerbibliothek, 671

  • Latin, Old English and Documentary Practice at Worcester from Wærferth to Oswald

  • The Vernacular in Anglo-Saxon Charters: Expansion and Innovation in Ninth-Century England

  • Latin Acrostic Poetry in Anglo-Saxon England: Reassessing the Contribution of John the Old Saxon

  • More
List of site pages