UCL English


Dr Victoria Symons


Email: victoria.symons@ucl.ac.uk


Education and Experience 

Vicky Symons completed her BA in English Literature and MA in Medieval Literature at UCL. Her PhD, which was awarded in 2013, focussed on runic writing in Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. She taught at UCL as a Fourth Year Teaching Fellow in 2012 and Teaching Fellow in Old and Middle English from 2013-2017.

Research Interests

Vicky’s research focuses broadly on medieval attitudes towards the written word, particularly in the context of developments in digital technology and online communication. Her first monograph, Runes and Roman Letters in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts, presents the first comprehensive study of the use of runic letters in Old English texts. Her current research project looks at stealing written texts in medieval England, with a particular focus on topics such as forgeries, book charms, and the theft of manuscripts in Viking raids. In both of these projects, parallels are drawn between early medieval concepts of written communication and current developments in the legal and cultural status of digital texts. She is also co-editing a volume entitled In Sæcula Saeculorum: Stasis in Medieval England. This collection challenges disciplinary and chronological divisions by tracing various continuities in literature, art, material culture, and politics from late antiquity to the end of the medieval period.

Vicky’s interest in digital communication has led to her involvement with a number of digital humanities projects. She is a team member on an AHRC funded project called ‘Playing Beowulf’. The project is currently producing a software package that allows users to create their own computer game based on the Old English poem, and encourages the exploration of narrative techniques such as perspective, pacing, characterisation, and performance. She is also assisting with the editing of the Canterbury Tales for the CantApp project. This digital edition aims to realise the full potential of digital media through an interactive combination of manuscript images, text, notes, video and sound.

In addition to these projects, Vicky has also published articles and book chapters on a range of topics, including riddles and charms, the Franks Casket, Scandinavian runic inscriptions, and the use of medieval narratives in modern fiction.


Runes and Roman Letters in Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts (KG: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co, 2016) 

Runes and Roman Letters

In Saecula Saeculorum: Stasis in Medieval England, ed. V. Symons and M. D. Bintley (Palgrave, 2016)

Articles and Chapters in Books

‘Doing Things with Words in Old English Charms and Riddles’, in Sensory Perception in Anglo-Saxon England, ed. S. Thomson (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016)

‘Wreoþenhilt ond wyrmfah: Confronting Serpents in Beowulf and Beyond’, in Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia, ed. M. D. Bintley and T. Williams (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, 2015)

‘Transitional Meanings: Interpreting the Iconographic Programme of the Franks Casket in the Context of Old English Wisdom Literature’, The Art, Literature and Material Culture of the Medieval World, ed. M. Boulton et. al. (Dublin: Four Courts, 2015)

‘Memes and Manuscripts: Reading Old English Literature in the Age of the Internet’, IV International Conference ‘Language, Culture, and Society in Russian/English Studies’: The Proceedings (2014), 86-97

‘Strange tidings: Maritime Interactions in Beowulf’, The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History and Culture 4 (2013), 7-35

‘Reading and Writing in the Runic Riddles of the Exeter Book’, Quaestio Insularis 12 (2012), 126-48


‘Early Medieval’, The Year’s Work in English Studies 95 (Oxford: OUP, 2016)

‘Early Medieval’, The Year’s Work in English Studies 94 (Oxford: OUP, 2015)