Lancaster University: International book prize for ‘beautifully written’ story of Northumbria’s ‘Golden Age’

A book which captures the story of an early medieval kingdom has been awarded a prestigious prize.

‘Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom’ by the Director of Lancaster University’s Regional Heritage Centre, Dr Fiona Edmonds, has won the Frank Watson prize, an international book prize awarded by the Centre for Scottish Studies at the University of Guelph in Canada.

The book tells the story of Northumbria, a kingdom that encompassed northern England as well as parts of southern Scotland. It explores influences that emanated from the Gaelic-speaking world, including Ireland, the Isle of Man, Argyll and the Scottish kingdom of Alba.

The book encompasses Northumbria’s ‘Golden Age’, the kingdom’s political and scholarly high-point of the seventh and early eighth centuries, and culminates with the kingdom’s decline and fragmentation in the Viking Age, which opened up new links with Gaelic-Scandinavian communities.

Speaking about the prize, Reader in History Dr Edmonds, an historian of medieval Britain and Ireland and an expert on now-lost kingdoms and maritime connections, said: “This book is a culmination of my research interests. I found it challenging to complete the work because the research spans numerous disciplines and centuries. I am delighted that the Frank Watson prize committee enjoyed it.”

The Frank Watson prize committee selected ‘Gaelic Influence in the Northumbrian Kingdom’ as the 2019-2020 winner because of the breadth and interdisciplinary nature of its research.

They commented: “We were impressed by Dr. Edmonds’s extensive use of the extant primary sources and found the book itself to be beautifully written and accessible to non-specialists.”

Dr Edmonds’s book was also recently shortlisted for ‘History book of the year’ in Scotland’s National Book Awards 2021 (the Saltire Society Literary Awards).

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