• Blog

    The following text consists of some descriptions and observations from a hiking route through the Hengill mountains, an area east of Reykjavík between Hellisheiði and Þingvallavatn. It's not as detailed as some previous posts but includes maps and pictures and (I hope) still gives some insight...
    October 2, 2020 · prose
    When I plan an expedition or hike I sometimes spend hours, weeks or even months planning and thinking about the routes. What will the conditions will be like? What do the place names reveal? Will there be any unsuspected treasures, cultural or natural or something in between? When I return, I...
    September 24, 2020
    Thursday 24th September. The first northern lights this side of summer. My fingers ache and tingle with cold but my eyes glint green with light and colour. Clambering onto the shed behind the house, we are amidst gardens and rooftops, away from the streetlights, gaining height and perspective....
    More Posts
  • About

    I'm a Cumbrian interested in Icelandic literature, fell-walking, all things written, and most things outside. After living mostly in Reykjavík for three years, I've just begun a PhD at the University of Oxford. You can find out about my PhD and general academic interests under the academic tab.


    This website is mainly a forum for some other types of writing; you can find examples of this under the blog tab. It contains a some accounts of my mountain adventures, including maps and route information, but also some more general landscape writing.


    The tab "Diary Blog" opens onto a different blog with much shorter chronicle-like entries.


    Photo credit: Sonja Michel 2017

  • Academic


    Old Norse-Icelandic literature and language; landscape; dialect; place-names; name studies (onomastics); memory studies; landscape archaeology; medievalism; Norse reception; regionalism; eco-criticism; geocriticism; geology; etymology; twentieth-century poetry; writers of place; north/North; environmental writing; mountain literature.

    My PhD

    Local Vikings!! I argue that, as well as a whole load of racists, Old Norse-Icelandic language and culture has been used in some really important notions of regional identity. Though people may not always realise, Scandinavian language and culture—which came to the British Isles in the Viking Age (793-1066)—continues to impact the words we use and the ways we think. Some of the most historically marginalised areas of the British Isles, including the remotest parts of England and Scotland, have in common a significant Norse element in their history and heritage. This affects everything. From the stories we tell, to the buildings we live in, to the dialect we speak. In an era of marked globalisation, local and regional identity has become more important than ever—and coronavirus has made this even more apparent. In such times, we realise the cultural and economic hegemony of London and the south of England, as regional councils all over the north of England rebel against the government's decisions, and newspapers bear such headlines as "Northern Revolt". I argue in my thesis that by paying close attention to the currents at play in regional identity in certain parts of Britain and Ireland, we can reframe this narrative. We can re-orient the map to bring those areas on the perceived periphery into the the centre of a world which has long been defined by travel, trade and contact over the North Atlantic.


    You can find out more about my research on my academia.edu page or my Oxford page, or feel free to contact me either on twitter (@northerlynotes) or by email: jack.hartley@univ.ox.ac.uk

    All Posts