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Jasmin Higgs

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Writing Runes: Determining Functional Variation in Early Runic Inscriptions

My research is interested in the pre-Old English runic corpus, which is a corpus defined as runic inscriptions with find-spots in Britain which are dated before c.650CE. My over-arching research question is, ‘what are the functions of the pre-Old English runic inscriptions?’. By asking this question, I am planning to tackle the theoretical problem of what we mean by the ‘functions’ of a text. Do we mean communicative functions, and what does that entail? – can texts with no discernable lexical item be communicative, and if so, how? How do we include non-communicative functions in our taxonomy, and what would they be? Another research question is, ‘how do we measure these functions?’.  My methodology will use approaches from runology, historical pragmatics (especially pragmaphilology), and archeology and material culture studies. 

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature


Higgs, Jasmin (2017). 'Examine the value of place names as evidence for the history, landscape and, especially, language(s) of your chosen area: North Essex'. Innervate: Leading Undergraduate Work in English Studies [https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/english/documents/innervate/17-18/q33220-jasmine-higgs.pdf] 


  • 'The Function of Early Anglo-Saxon Runes', Centre for Medieval Studies Graduate Conferece: New Voices in Medieval Studies July 2019. 
  • 'Functions of the pre-Old English Runic Inscriptions', Medieval Research Centre seminars, University of Leicester, 16th February 2021 

Public Engagement & Impact

  • Object Handler for the museum exhibit 'Vikings: Rediscover the Legend' (2017) 
  • Exhibit curator for 'Vikings in the East Midlands: forming relationships, forging identities' (2019) https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/csva/events/events/2018-19/vikings-in-the-east-midlands-forging-relationships-forming-identities-the-exhibition.aspx 

Other Research Interests

  • historical linguistics
  • historical pragmatics
  • the history of orthography and writing systems
  • onomastics and place-names studies 
  • the use and appropriation of runes or rune-like symbols in folk horror films
  • Arthurian legend adaptions


  • Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland
  • Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland 

Blog posts and online engagement

  • I am an Editor for the medieval postgraduate research blog 'The (Not So) Dark Ages', https://darkagespostgradpages.wordpress.com/ 
    • Higgs, Jasmin. (2019). 'Runes in the North West of England', https://darkagespostgradpages.wordpress.com/2020/07/10/runes-in-the-north-west-of-england/
  • I run earlyrunes.wordpress.com, a site aiming to make early runic inscriptions accessible to amateur linguists and historians
    • 'Early runes: an introduction', https://earlyrunes.wordpress.com/2020/04/26/early-runes-an-introduction/
    • 'Why bother with runes?', https://earlyrunes.wordpress.com/2020/04/30/why-bother-with-runes/ 
    • 'Early futharks: early 'Anglo-Saxon' runes', https://earlyrunes.wordpress.com/2020/07/19/early-futharks-early-anglo-saxon-runes/