“My paper on ‘Viking Thomasinas’ examines the use of female names developed directly from male names, similar to the more recent name Thomasina. Viking Age Scandinavia saw a remarkable surge in the creation of such names, reflecting in some cases a need for a new way of signalling relationships between female children and their fathers. In other cases, the female versions of new male names are actually more popular than the male originals, suggesting a more conservative attitude to naming boys than girls.
“Such conservatism is, in fact, still with us today. Anxieties about the masculinity of names are very much alive and well: witness the switch of Evelyn from male to female during the twentieth century – and expect Jo(e) to follow suit in due course. This says a lot about our – and the Vikings’ – attitude to the importance of male children, and the relative impact of experimental/cross-gender naming on boys and girls.
The symposium sought to broaden the picture of Viking men, opening up the range of ways in which men were men in the Viking world.population.”