Tarrin Wills

Tarrin Wills

Dictionary editor, Senior Researcher

Member of:


    • 2001 - Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), English Language and Early English Literature, University of Sydney.

    • 1996 - Bachelor of Arts with Honors (first class), English Language and Early English Literature, University of Sydney.

    Academic Employment


    • 2018- Editor and Head of Dictionary (2019-), Dictionary of Old Norse Prose, University of Copenhagen


    • 2018- Honorary Senior Lecturer, Department of History, University of Aberdeen

    • 2011-2014, 2016-2019 Honorary Associate, Department of English, University of Sydney


    • 2016-18 -  Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie fellow, Department of Nordic Research, University of Copenhagen. Project: Lexicon Poeticum.

    • 2007-2018 - (on secondment from 2015) Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor / Lektor; 2007-13 Lecturer) in Early Scandinavian Studies, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen (Lecturer 2007-2013)

    • 2015-2016 - Lecturer in English, University of Sydney

    • 2007 - Senior Research Associate, Centre for Medieval Studies

    • 2001-2006 - Research Associate, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney

    • 2002-2007 - Lecturing and tutoring in various courses on medieval languages and literatures, University of Sydney.

    • 1997-8, 1999 - Research Assistant to Prof. Margaret Clunies Ross

    • 1999 – Assistant developing Anglo-Saxon Norse and Celtic: web-based Old Norse-Icelandic module, University of Sydney

    • 1997 - Research Assistant to Dr Kellinde Wrightson

    • 1997 - Research Assistant (fractional) to Dr Judy Quinn


    Research projects

    • Chair and founding member of the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative (MUFI — http://mufi.info), a body developing an international standard for electronic encoding of characters found in medieval manuscripts.

    • Member of and consultant to the international project, Pre-Christian Religions of the North (Sources strand, 2012-).

    • Consultant to the DFG-funded project, Kenning Lexikon (2018-)

    • Member of the Medieval Nordic Text Archive (Menota, Oslo-Bergen-Copenhagen) specifications committee, including considerable contributions to the Handbook.

    Pre-2016 publications

    Books (co-author/editor)

    • Judy Quinn, Kate Heslop and Tarrin Wills (eds), Learning and Understanding in the Old Norse World: Essays in Honour of Margaret Clunies Ross (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007).

    • Margaret Clunies Ross, Kari Gade, Edith Marold, Guðrún Nordal, Tarrin Wills, Diana Whaley, Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: Editors’ Manual. 2nd edition. (Sydney: Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney, 2002).

    Book chapters

    • Margaret Clunies Ross, Kari Ellen Gade, Guðrún Nordal, Edith Marold, Diana Whaley and Tarrin Wills, ‘General Introduction’ in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages Vol. 1, ed. Diana Whaley (Turnhout: Brepols, 2012)

    • Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Würth (eds) ‘Hugsvinnsmál’ in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages Vol. 7, ed. Margaret Clunies Ross (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 358-449

    • Jonna Louis-Jensen and Tarrin Wills (eds) ‘Plácitusdrápa’ in Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages Vol. 7, ed. Margaret Clunies Ross (Turnhout: Brepols, 2007), pp. 179-220

    Refereed journal articles

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Semantic modelling of the Pre-Christian Religions of the North’, Digital Medievalist 9 (2014) doi:10.16995/dm.53

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Relational Data Modelling of Textual Corpora: The Skaldic Project and its Extensions’, Literary and Linguistic Computing30:2 (2015), 294-313  doi:10.1093/llc/fqt045

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Testosterone, Aggression and Winning in Early Northern Literature’, Northern Studies 44 (2013), 60-79.

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Physiology and Behaviour in the Sagas’, Viking and Medieval Studies 8 (2012), 279-97 [Media coverage: British Science Festival press conference; BBC Reporting Scotland (7/9/2012); The Times, ‘Never trust a man with high testosterone, Vikings learnt’ (8 September 2012, p. 35); Daily Mail, ‘Pillaging Vikings were nightmare at home, too’ (8 September 2012, p. 11); The Daily Telegraph, ‘Viking eye for a criminal’ (8 September 2012, p. 14); also Irish Times, Irish Independent, SBS, Belfast Telegraph, Morgunblaðið, Eastern Daily Press, Yorkshire Post, MSN NZ, MSN UK, IcelandReview, Phys.org, Pakistan Daily Times, UK Metro, The Australian.]

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘The Third Grammatical Treatise and Ole Worm’s Literatura Runica’, Scandinavian Studies 76 (2004), 439-58.

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Electronic Editing of the Skaldic Corpus’. Skandinavistik 32 (2002), 25-30.

    Refereed conference proceedings

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘The Development of Skaldic Language’ in Á austrvega: Saga and East Scandinavia, ed. Agneta Ney, Henrik Williams and Fredrik Charpentier Ljungqvist (Gävle: Gävle University Press, 2009), pp. 1032-8.

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘The Anonymous Verse in the Third Grammatical Treatise’ in The Fantastic in Old Norse/Icelandic Literature - Sagas and the British Isles: Preprint Papers of the 13th International Saga Conference, Durham and York, 6th-12th August, 2006, ed. John McKinnell, David Ashurst and Donata Kick (Durham: Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2006), 1054-63.

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘Theories of the Antiquity of Runes’ in Scandinavia and Christian Europe in the Middle Ages: Papers of the 12th International Saga Conference ed. Rudolf Simek and Judith Meurer (Bonn: Hausdruckerei der Universität Bonn, 2003), pp. 524-31.

    • Margaret Clunies Ross and Tarrin Wills, ‘The Skaldic Editing Project (Plenary Lecture)’ in Scandinavia and Christian Europe in the Middle Ages: Papers of the 12th International Saga Conference ed. Rudolf Simek and Judith Meurer (Bonn: Hausdruckerei der Universität Bonn, 2003), pp. 99-106.

    • Tarrin Wills, ‘The reception of myths concerning literacy and poetry’ in Old Norse Myths, Literature and Society ed. Geraldine Barnes and Margaret Clunies Ross. (Sydney: Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Sydney, 2000), pp. 572-8.

    Selected book reviews

    • Christopher Abram, Myths of the Pagan North in Scandinavica 50/2 (2011), 114-16.

    • Terje Spurkland, Norwegian Runes and Runic Inscriptions in Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association, Vol. 2 (2006), 263-5.

    Plenary conference papers

    • ‘Digital Humanities’, Trends and Challenges in Early Career Scholarship, Copenhagen, 21 October 2017

    • with Margaret Clunies Ross, ‘The Skaldic Editing Project’, 12th International Saga Conference, Bonn, 1 August 2003.

    Peer-reviewed conference presentations (selected)

    • ‘Reengineering an Online Historical Dictionary for Readers of Specific Texts’ — eLex 2019: Smart Lexicography, Sintra, Portugal 2/10/2019

    • ‘Poetry in the íslendingasögur and its relationship to the broader skaldic corpus’ — 17th International Saga Conference, Reykjavík and Reykholt 12-17/8/2018

    • ‘Native systems of semantic classification for Old Norse skaldic poetry’ — International Conference of Historical Lexicology and Lexicography, University of Genova 20/6/18

    • ‘An interpretation of the Valdemar II Pangram’ — Third Conference in East Norse Philology (3. konference i østnordisk filologi SØF3), Copenhagen 19/10/17

    • ‘The new Lexicon Poeticum [lexicographic problems]’ — Nordisk forening for leksikografi, Reykjavík 31/5/17

    • ‘The new Lexicon Poeticum [digital humanities problems]’ — Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2nd conference, University of Gothenburg 15/3/17

    • Katarzyna Anna Kapitan, Timothy Rowbotham, Tarrin Wills: ‘Visualising genre relationships in Icelandic manuscripts’ — Digital Humanities in the Nordic Countries 2nd conference, University of Gothenburg 15/3/17

    • ‘The Lexicon Poeticum project: Integrating textual editing with digital dictionaries using relational data’ — Australian Early Medieval Association conference, Sydney 11/2/2016

    • ‘Physiology and Behaviour in the Sagas’ — International Saga Conference, Aarhus, 10/8/2012

    • ‘Skaldic complexity’ — International Saga Conference, Uppsala 13/8/2009

    • ‘Skaldic Editing Project’ — Aberdeen Textual Editing Symposium 8/11/2008

    • ‘Linguistic analysis of the skaldic corpus’ — International Medieval Congress, Leeds 9/7/2008

    • ‘The anonymous verses in the Third Grammatical Treatise’, 13th International Saga Conference, Durham, August 2006

    • ‘Dreams in some þættir’, Creating the Medieval Saga, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Bergen. 13-15 April 2005

    • ‘Theories of the Antiquity of Runes’, 12th International Saga Conference, Bonn, 1 August 2003.

    • ‘Grammatical Instruction in Medieval Iceland: Some Observations Based on the Grammatical Treatises’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 14 July 2003.

    • ‘The rune chapters of the Third Grammatical Treatise and post-medieval interpretations’, International Medieval Congress, Leeds, 10 July 2001.

    • ‘The reception of myths concerning literacy and poetry’ International Saga Conference, Sydney, 3 July 2000.

    Invited seminar papers (selected)

    • ‘Connecting digital textual editing with historical lexicography’ — Seminar Series in Lexicography, lexicology and phraseology at the Dept. of Swedish, University of Gothenburg, 23/10/2019

    • ‘The use of digital humanities in the study of pre-Christian Nordic religion’ — History of Religion seminar, Aarhus 1/5/2019

    • ‘Thor and Wading’ — Centre for Scandinavian Studies, University of Aberdeen 19/10/2016

    • ‘Some reflections on 20 years of digital research’ — Digging the Data Symposium, University of Sydney MECO, 17/4/2015

    • ‘Kennings and variability: Corpus and structural views’ — Kennings in Context Symposium, University of Kiel, 3/7/2014

    • ‘Digitising the Old Norse world’ — Nordisk Forskningsinstitut, University of Copenhagen, 9/4/2014

    • ‘The electronic representation of the Old Norse world’ — Miðaldastofa, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, 12/11/2013

    • ‘Designing and managing projects with complex data: The experience of the Skaldic Project and a way forward for the Myth Project’ — Old Norse Mythology in the Digital Age, Bonn, 19/10/2012

    • ‘Testosterone and Social Structure in Early Scandinavia’ — Medieval and Early Modern Centre, University of Sydney 20/11/2011; History Seminar, Aberdeen 9/2/2011

    • ‘Kennings and Skaldic Complexity’ — 6th Skaldic Symposium: Kennings and Skaldic Diction, Aberdeen 28/6/2010 

    • ‘Diatopic analysis of the Viking-Age lexicon’ — Runes in Context Symposium, Aberdeen 2/5/2010

    • ‘Testosterone, Violence and Aggression’ — Midlands Viking Symposium, Nottingham 24/4/2010

    • ‘Behavioural evidence for testosterone production and effects in early Northern literature’ — Scandinavian Studies Seminar, Aberdeen 16/3/2010

    • ‘The development of skaldic complexity’ — Nottingham Old Norse Seminar 22/4/2009

    • ‘The New Meissner: Describing the Kenning System’ — University of Sydney Symposium in Old Norse-Icelandic Studies 2/4/2008

    • ‘Dating Skaldic Poetry: Possible New Methods’ — Oxford Old Norse Seminar 19/2/2008 and UCL Scandinavian Seminar 21/2/2008

    • ‘A Brief History of Runology’, Centre for Medieval Studies Lecture Series, University of Sydney, 13 June 2002.

    • ‘Norse-Icelandic Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages: A new edition’, Digital Resources for Research in the Humanities, Sydney, 27 September 2001.

    • ‘The electronic edition: issues for editors’, Skaldic Edition Symposium, Reykholt, Iceland, 5 May 2001.

    Competitive grants awarded

    • EUR 620,500: (consultant EUR 63,350; PI Jana Krüger, Kiel) ‘Lexikon der Kenningar der skaldischen Dichtung Skandinaviens’ — Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) 2018-2021 

    • EUR 312,000: (co-principal investigator with Guðrún Nordal) ‘The language of poetry in sagas concerning Iceland’ — Rannís (Icelandic Research Council) ISK 39,304,000 2016-2019

    • EUR 232,195: ‘Lexicon Poeticum: A lexical resource for Old-Norse Icelandic skaldic poetry and its relevant social fields’ — Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship 2015 for the University of Copenhagen (EUR 212,195). — Score: 94.2%, well above the funded threshold and around the top 5% of proposals submitted for Copenhagen.

    • EUR 7,450: ‘Digital methodologies for understanding pre-Christian religions of the North’ — British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant (Principal Investigator; GBP 5920) 2013-14

    • EUR 3,170: ‘New methods for understanding the language of early Scandinavian poetry’ — University of Aberdeen College of Arts and Social Sciences Research Committee (GBP 2500; 2008)

    • ‘Skaldic Project’, Australian Research Council Discovery Project (Chief Investigator Margaret Clunies Ross; named as Research Associate; approx. AUD 500,000 / EUR 300,000) 2003-7

    • ‘Skaldic Project’, Australian Research Council Large Grant (Chief Investigator Margaret Clunies Ross; named as Research Associate; approx. AUD 200,000 / EUR 130,000) 2001-2

    • Australian Postgraduate Award (PhD scholarship) 1997-2000 (AUD 56,000 / EUR 37,000)

    PhD supervision — completed

    • Irene García Losquiño (Aberdeen, with Stefan Brink; completed May 2013)

    • Ian Crockatt (Aberdeen, RPAS-funded; 2010-14; completed April 2014)

    • Douglas Dutton (Aberdeen, 2012-15; completed January 2016)

    • Declan Taggart (Aberdeen, RPAS-funded; with Stefan Brink; completed June 2015)

    • Lisa Turberfeld (Aberdeen, AHRC-funded; 2012-2015; completed November 2015)

    • Christopher Crocker (with Ármann Jakobsson; University of Iceland 2011-16; completed 2016)

    • Hilde Nielsen (Aberdeen (supervision completed by Hannah Burrows); completed 2017)


    • 2015 - Student commendation for teaching in ENGL3633 (Sydney)

    • 2014 - PhD Supervisor of the Year — AUSA Student Choice Awards

    • 1997-2001 - Australian Postgraduate Award with Stipend

    • 1998 - Kath O’Neil Scholarship, University of Sydney

    • 1998 - HL Rogers Scholarship, University of Sydney

    • 1996 Helen B Devine Bequest Prize (for Anglo-Saxon/Old English studies)


    Teaching — Courses

    University of Copenhagen (2017-)

    • History and fiction in the sagas (coordinator; seminars; 2017)

    • Summer School in Manuscript Studies (seminars; 2017, 2019)

    University of Sydney (2015-16)

    • Narratives of Romance and Adventure (ENGL1002 - coordinator, lectures, tutorials, pilot student retention project; satisfaction 4.17; 2015 and 2016)

    • Introduction to Old English (ENGL3663 + English Honours - coordinator, lectures, seminars; satisfaction 4.12; Student commendation received: 'Tarrin made a possibly dry and difficult subject extremely interesting, engaging and understandable. He was very responsive to students' needs, approachable and encouraging.', 2015)

    • Imagining Camelot (ENGL2661 - lectures and tutorials, 2015) 

    • Medieval Literature: Dreams and Visions (ENGL3642 - seminars, 2015)

    • Language, Texts and Time (ENGL1007 - lectures, 2015)

    University of Aberdeen (2007-14)

    • Old Norse Language and Literature (EL5074 - Postgraduate courses, 2007-13)

    • Runes and Place Names (HI5574 - Postgraduate course, 2008-2010)

    • The Sagas of Icelanders (EL45OR - 4th year course in English, 2007-13)

    • Beowulf and Old English (EL48PQ - 4th year course in English, 2007-13)

    • The Migration Age (HI353C - 3rd year course in History, 2012)

    • Legendary Scandinavia (HI4015 - 4th year course in History, 2009-10)

    • History of Early Iceland (HI302G - 3rd year course in History, 2009-10)

    • Paganism and Christianisation in Scandinavia (HI4015 - 4th year course in History 2013)

    I also contributed substantially to the following courses, including coordination:

    • Vikings (HI1025 - 1st year History, 2007-; coordinator 2012, 2013)

    • Approaches to Scandinavian Studies (HI501L - Postgraduate course, 2008, 2010)

    • Chaucer (EL30DP - 3rd year English, 2007-10)

    • History of Language in the British Isles (EL2513 - 2nd year Linguistics, 2007-13)

    • Medieval Texts and Manuscripts (HI5029 - Postgraduate course, 2007-9)

    • Back in the Viking Homelands (HI306A - 3rd/4th year History course 2013-14)

    • The Tragedy of Knowledge (EL2512 - 2nd year course in English, 2012-13)

    • Religions of the World (RS1508 - 1st/2nd year Religious Studies course 2014)

    • Viking Archaeology (AY3509 - 3rd/4th year Archaeology course 2012)

    University of Sydney (2001-7)

    • Language and Context  (ENGL1050 - tutorials 2001)

    • Image, Text, Manuscript (ENGL2045 - lectures 2002)

    • Medieval Studies (MDST2001 - lectures 2002-3)

    • Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic (ENGL2600 - lectures and tutorials 2005-7)

    • Old Norse and Advanced Old Norse (ENGL3921/31 - 2006-7)

    • Other contributions to courses on functional linguistics, semiotics, medieval literature and history.

    Teaching exchanges

    • Skaldic Poetry (MIS001M - Erasmus teaching exchange, University of Iceland 2013)

    • The Old Norse Literary Corpus (MIS701F - Erasmus teaching exchange, University of Iceland 2013)

    • Manuscript Summer School, Copenhagen (2008)

    Digital teaching resources (selected)

    • Old Norse Teaching Texts (https://goo.gl/1wWddL) 2009- — Texts for teaching Old Norse, with a companion handbook (see site), including interactive/linked glossary, notes, grammar quizzes, audio files and more.

    • Common words in Old Norse-Icelandic 2014 — Vocab training using corpus analysis to identify the most common 1000 word-forms in Old Norse

    Administrative Roles

    University of Copenhagen 2016-

    • Head of the Dictionary of Old Norse Prose 2019-

    • Member of the Technical Group for Research IT, NorS (Tekniske Gruppe for Forsknings-It) 2019-

    • Member of the Task Force for Digital Research Infrastructure, NorS (Task Force i Digital Forskningsinfrastruktur) 2019-

    University of Sydney (2015-2016)

    • Coordinator, Master of English Studies degree programme — included admissions, administration, advising Chair of Department on workload, programme development including accreditation and benchmarking.

    University of Aberdeen (2007-2014)

    • Director, School of Divinity, History and Philosophy Postgraduate Taught Programmes (2012-14) — included a comprehensive review of 16 Masters programmes, implementation of wide-ranging changes to recruitment and development, and the development of four new postgraduate programmes.

    • Co-Director 2011-14 / Acting Director 2008-11, Centre for Scandinavian Studies, including development of the Undergraduate MA in Scandinavian Studies, postgraduate MLitt in Scandinavian Studies, management of 24 High Street and other duties

    • Postgraduate Selector, School of DHP 2014

    • European exchange (Erasmus) coordinator, Department of English 2012-13

    • Coordinator, History Postgraduate Taught Programmes 2010-14

    • Programme Coordinator, MLitt in Scandinavian Studies 2007-14

    • Programme Coordinator, MA in Scandinavian Studies 2010-2013 (including development of the programme from 2008, administration, promotion, recruitment, etc.)

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