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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, and has been labelled a Trümmersprache, a ‘remains language’ (written fragmentary data). 

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 determine non-communicative functions of runic script, and what would they be? 

My methodology will use approaches from runology, historical pragmatics (especially pragmaphilology), and archeology and material culture studies. I hope to research how to adapt historical pragmatics to Trümmersprache data and the methodological issues of applying certain areas of linguistics to fragmentary data.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature



'Functions of the pre-Old English Runic Inscriptions', Medieval Research Centre Seminars, University of Leicester, 16th February 2021.

'The Function of Early Runic Inscriptions', New Voices in Medieval Studies: the Annual York CMS Postgraduate Conference, 27th June 2019. 

Public Engagement & Impact

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.


Alfred Oscroft Essay Prize 2018

Christine Fell Award 2018-2019 

Training and further education.


2015-2018 BA (Hons) English, University of Nottingham - 1st Class

2018-2019 MA Viking & Anglo-Saxon Studies, University of Nottingham - Distinction 

2018 TQUK Level 5 Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (RQF), The TEFL Academy - Merit. 

Workshops, courses, etc. 

2021 Royal Literary Fund, 'Writing for First Years'