Anglo-Saxon Plant-Name Survey

About the Survey

ASPNS is a research project of the Institute for the Historical Study of Language (IHSL), based in the Department of English Language, University of Glasgow, U.K. The Director of ASPNS is Dr Carole Biggam, and the members of the Survey comprise two international teams: one of contributing authors, who research and write the word-studies, and the other of expert advisers, who work in many disciplines in the Humanities and the Sciences and are willing to answer queries from the authors.

The aim of the Survey is to study the plant-names of Anglo-Saxon England, in whatever medium they survive (e.g. manuscripts, inscriptions etc.), and from whatever language they originate. As far as the evidence allows, plants will be identified by species, genus, or family, and their significance in Anglo-Saxon society, as indicated by the sources, will be discussed. It is expected that the value of the Survey will become even more apparent as the information accumulates, since it will provide data for further research into topics which are linguistic (e.g. dialect studies), geographic (e.g. land use studies), economic (e.g. food studies), scientific (e.g. medicine), and social (e.g. clothing). It is hoped that the work of the Survey will be of interest to historians, botanists, archaeologists, art historians, linguists, geographers, gardeners, herbalists, and many others.

The research for ASPNS is interdisciplinary, drawing on the findings of any discipline considered appropriate for the study of a particular plant. The principal methodologies involved in the research will, of course, be those of semantics, etymology, and documentary studies, but contributors to the Survey may also have to delve into the latest research on early textiles, the botanical sections of archaeological reports, the compilation of herbal texts in Ancient Rome and Greece, experiments in growing early crops, and much more besides. These apparent diversions from the main highway often provide illuminating routes to a deeper understanding of the role of a humble plant in early England.

Postal address: Dr C.P. Biggam, Dept of English Language, University of Glasgow, 12 University Gardens, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: (+44) (0)143 6679626
Fax: (+44) (0)141 330 3531


ASPNS homepage