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Dr Mike Bintley

  • Overview



    Mike’s research and teaching cover the early middle ages. He has expertise in the literature, material culture, and archaeology of early medieval England and Scandinavia, and a research focus on landscape, environment, settlements, and plant-life. He joined Birkbeck in 2018, after teaching at UCL, Oxford, and Canterbury Christ Church University.


    Professional activities

    - Chair of Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland
    - Series editor, Nature and Environment in the Middle Ages (Boydell)
    - Council member, Viking Society for Northern Research
    - Advisory board, Studies in Old English Literature (Brepols)
    - Founder and co-chair of the Northern/Early Medieval Conference Series
    - Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
    - Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Advance HE)
    - External Examiner: Royal Holloway (2017-21); University of Bedfordshire (2016-20)

    Professional memberships

    • International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England

    • Teachers of Old English in Britain and Ireland

    • Viking Society for Northern Research

    • The Society for Medieval Archaeology

    Honours and awards


  • Research


    Research interests

    • Texts and Material Culture
    • Landscapes
    • Old English and Old Norse
    • Environment
    • Ecotheory and ecocriticism
    • Mind and cognitive approaches to textual and material cultures
    • Settlements and the built environment

    Research overview

    The relationship between the material world, literature, and other kinds of writing is at the heart of my research. My particular interests include landscape, environment, settlements, religion, materiality, ecotheory and ecocriticism, mind, and cognitive approaches to literature and material culture.

    After studying a BA in English Literature and an MA in Medieval Literature, I wrote my PhD thesis on ‘Trees and Woodland in Anglo-Saxon Culture’ (’09), supervised in the Department of English Language and Literature and at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL.

    In my first edited book Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World (OUP, 2013), and my monograph Trees in the Religions of Early Medieval England (Boydell, 2015), I investigated the role of trees and woodland in the belief systems of early medieval England before and after the conversion to Christianity, and explored the way in which this aspect of the environment shaped contemporary thought and practice.

    I went on to co-edit three interdisciplinary volumes that each, in their own way, consider human interactions with aspects of the material world: Representing Beasts in Early Medieval England and Scandinavia (Boydell, 2015); Sensory Perception in the Medieval West (Brepols, 2016), and Stasis in the Medieval West? Questioning Change and Continuity (Palgrave, 2017).

    In collaboration with Professor Richard North I produced Andreas: an Edition (Liverpool University Press, 2016) for the Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies series. This is the first parallel text and translation of this important Old English poem, in which I discuss the environment and landscape of the city of Mermedonia, a forbidding domain inhabited by pagan anthropophagi. 

    I went on to work on the HLF-funded project ‘Finding Eanswythe: the Life and Afterlife of an Anglo-Saxon Saint’ in Folkestone. This community heritage and archaeology project focused on Folkestone’s patron saint, a Kentish princess connected with the foundation of the seventh century minster, and led to the dating of her supposed relics to the mid-seventh century.

    In 2020 I published my second monograph, Settlements and Strongholds: Texts and Landscapes in Early Medieval England (Brepols), which addresses connections and disjunctions between representations of the constructed landscape in early medieval English texts and evidence for their form and function in the archaeological record.

    I am currently co-editing a volume of essays with Dr Pippa Salonius entitled The Surrounding Forest: Tree as Symbol and Metaphor at the Time of the European Middle Ages, and co-authoring Landscapes and Environments of the Middle Ages with Dr Kate Franklin.

    My current long-term book project is provisionally entitled Minds in the Landscape: Texts, Environment, and Material Culture in Early Medieval England. I am also currently writing several article-length works on water, woodlands, and topography in Old English, Old Norse, and early Middle English texts. In addition, I am working on an anthology of trees and plant life in Old English poetry.

    Research Centres and Institutes

    • Medieval and Early Modern Worlds

    Research clusters and groups

    • Environmental Humanities
  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    Mike has supervised doctoral work on medieval kingship, landscapes, and familial relationships, and is currently supervising work on ideology, violence, performance, and landscapes. He welcomes proposals from students interested in working on any aspects of the early Middle Ages related to landscapes, environment, ecotheory/ecocriticism, and interdisciplinary approaches to textual and material cultures.

    Current doctoral researchers



    Mike has taught Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and the History of the Language at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and has supervised undergraduate work on literature from the early middle ages to the present day.

    This year he is teaching on the following modules taught on BA programmes in the Department of English, Theatre, and Creative Writing, and on the MA in Medieval Literature and Culture:

    - The Arts: Perspectives and Possibilities (Foundation Year)

    - Connecting the Arts (BA)

    - Doing English (BA)

    - Reading Literature (BA)

    - Storytelling (BA)

    - Flight Paths: Migration, Diaspora and Identity (BA)

    - Making the Medieval Human (BA)

    - Medieval Material Texts (MA)

    - Approaching Research into Medieval Culture (MA)


  • Publications




    Book Section

  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • Early medieval landscapes
    • Early medieval environment
    • Old English literature