'The Meanings of Elf, and Elves, in Medieval England' was the topic of Alaric's Ph.D. thesis, commenced in October 2001, submitted in October 2004 and defended on January 21st 2005, at the University of Glasgow. It has since been revised and published as Elves in Anglo-Saxon England: Matters of Belief, Health, Gender and Identity, Anglo-Saxon Studies, 8 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2007).

Alaric's Ph.D. seeks to understand the role of non-Christian belief in medieval society, by examining the history of the English word elf, and through that the history of the concepts it denoted. Beliefs of this sort were an enormous part of medieval life, and studying the ever-changing character and role of superstition accordingly provides fascinating, and often surprising, insights into how medieval people understood and related to the world around them.

The thesis was undertaken in the Department of English Language and the Glasgow Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. Alaric's supervisors were Graham Caie and Katie Lowe. The research also included a very happy and productive year from 2003-4 studying at the Department of English and its associated Research Unit for Variation and Change in English at the University of Helsinki in Finland. There Alaric was looked after primarily--and wonderfully well--by Matti Kilpiö and Leena Kahlas-Tarkka. His research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (now Council; supplemented in 2003-4 by the SOCRATES scheme). The internal examiner was Stuart Airlie and the external Andy Orchard.

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