Christopher Callow

Colleges, School and Institutes


I have been in my current post since 2005. Before that I held temporary positions in the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity at Birmingham – including at the Ironbridge Institute – and at Birkbeck College and UCL. I have been a member of the Council of the Viking Society for Northern Research (2009-12). I was a founder member of Birmingham’s medieval studies research centre, Centre for the Study of the Middle Ages (CeSMA).

CeSMA offers an MA in Medieval Studies which offers a variety of pathways

From 2005-8 I was the University of Birmingham’s research champion for its Collaborative Research Network in Heritage, Cultural Production and Interpretation which fostered new interdisciplinary research projects in the arts and humanities. My first book, Landscape, Tradition and Power in Medieval Iceland is under contract with Brill. I am currently writing a second book, The Viking Diaspora (OUP) will present a new view of the viking phenomenon.

Research interests

My central research interest is the society and economy of Iceland, especially of the medieval period and wider issues which stem more or less directly from this including:

  • interdisciplinary approaches to early medieval European economic and social history
  • narratives; saga literature, including Sagas of Icelanders and Sturlunga saga
  • aspects of cultural resource management and the reception of the Vikings and the middle ages generally
  • history and man-made climate change

I was a member of the AHRC-funded Viking Identities Network (2006-9) led by Prof. Judith Jesch (School of English, University of Nottingham) and as part of this I organised the research seminar on modern perceptions of vikings which was held in Birmingham in December 2007.

I have also worked on the family and childhood in the period c.300-c.1200CE partly in collaboration with Dr Mary Harlow, in recent years giving papers on particular aspects of this at the Leeds International Congress, at the Oikos-Famlia conference in Göteborg and the Gender and Medieval Studies conference.

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

I would welcome research students on a wide range of issues in the history and archaeology of early medieval western Europe, the Vikings and medieval Iceland and Scandinavia. Research proposals on the social, cultural or economic history within particular medieval regions or communities would also be possible. I have published on the writing of history in the middle ages would be interested in supervising similar topics on medieval narratives.

Current doctoral research topics:

pre-industrial farming practices in Iceland (Bernadette McCooey)
literate culture in medieval Scandinavia (Ryder Patzuk-Russell)
Past students: Dr Emma Southon (The early medieval family), viva passed without corrections, December 2012. Co-supervised with Dr Mary Harlow.