Database Overview

The electronic catalogue hosted on this site is one of the project’s major outputs. It includes words derived from Old Norse in major late Middle English poems, such as the works of the ‘Gawain’-poet and The Wars of Alexander, whose vocabularies are famously rich and diverse. The online database is freely accessible and fully searchable. The User Guide explains how to search our data, by starting from either the catalogue or the texts.

Each entry is annotated with information about the form and meaning of the word (including, for example, spelling variants, morphology, Modern English equivalents and senses), its regional and historical distribution, and its etymology (including where possible the Proto-Germanic ancestor, Old English cognate, possible Scandinavian source forms and modern reflexes, and any phonological or morphological markers of loan.

These fields create a flexible mechanism for presenting and manipulating this large body of data, and thus more powerful ways of analysing, modelling and visualizing the material.

The database also introduces a new field to facilitate the study of all words of a particular etymological type alongside one another. Each entry is classified according to a system of unprecedented consistency devised by Richard Dance to indicate the nature and strength of the evidence for input from Old Norse, allowing the user to compare it immediately with the same evidence for every other word. This system is explained here.