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Thomas Fairfax

Languages and Literature, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Kinship Connections and the Earldom of Orkney c. 900-1263

This project aims to use genealogies from Orkneyinga saga to map out the family relationships between individuals from Orkney, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, and other areas of the Viking diaspora during the Viking Age and the Late Norse period. By doing this, it will establish the extent to which the aristocracies of Scandinavia and Scotland were interconnected. Furthermore, it will show the types of family relationships which maintained the interconnectivity of the Viking diaspora. By cross-referencing genealogical data from the sagas with documentary, archaeological, and place name evidence, this study will provide a detailed picture of this Norse-Scottish borderland. In addition, it will consider how the oral traditions which contributed to Orkneyinga saga flowed through the family networks of the Orkney earldom.

Research Area

  • Languages and Literature
  • Medieval Literature


Tom Fairfax, ‘Alan Murray of Culbin’, in Conquered By No One: A People’s History of the Scots who made the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320 ed. by Neil McLennan (Old Baberton: Old Baberton Clubhouse, 2020), 198–200.

Tom Fairfax, 'Karl Hundason: Scotland’s Viking king?', History Scotland, March/April 2021, 46-49.

Tom Fairfax, 'The Burning of Bishop Adam: perspectives of a murder on the Norse-Scottish border', Innes Review 72:2 (2021), 101-127.

Tom Fairfax, 'Review: The Northman', EPOCH 8 (2022), Online at epoch-magazine.com.


New Perspectives in Castle Studies - A Virtual Castle Studies Conference Sponsored by the Department of History at Saint Louis University, Online, April 6-9, 2021

Paper given: ‘A special case’? Historic Scotland’s restoration of Stirling Castle and the Scottish castle conservation debate

The Papacy and the Periphery, c.1050-c.1300 - A conference organised by the University of St Andrews in association with the University of Glasgow, Online, October 21-23, 2021

Paper given: ‘Raging like wolves against their godly pastor’: Papal responses to Violence against bishops of Caithness in the Early-Thirteenth Century

International Medieval Congress - Hosted by University of Leeds, July 4-7, 2022

Paper Given: 'Making Connections in the Viking Diaspora: What Might Social Network Analysis Reveal about the People of Orkneyinga Saga?'

Public Engagement & Impact

I am currently a co-ordinator for the Vikings for Schools programme at the University of Nottingham.

Public online talk for Groam House Museum, Rosemarkie (given on 2 September, 2021):

Reactions to the burning of Bishop Adam of Caithness in 1222

Public online talk for Caithness Broch Project (given on 10 February, 2022):

Ousdale Broch and the Caithness-Sutherland border


Member of the Scottish Society for Northern Studies.

Member of the Viking Society for Northern Research.