Free Thinking: Arts and Ideas

Leading artists, writers, thinkers discuss the ideas shaping our lives & links between past & present and new academic research. Broadcast as Free Thinking from Tuesday to Thursday at 10pm on BBC Radio 3 + Proms Plus events.

Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough uses the AD 793 attack on the Lindisfarne Monastery as the starting point in an exploration of the power battles between Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. Recorded at BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival at Sage, Gateshead

What Did the Vikings Do For Us?

When Lindisfarne monastery was attacked in 793AD the monk Alcuin described the church of St Cuthbert, “splattered with the blood of the priests.” New Generation Thinker Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough, from Durham University, takes this moment as the starting point for an exploration of the power battles between Vikings and Anglo Saxons which led to the symbolic battles of 1066.

Dragons from Beowulf to Smaug.


As the second of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, The Desolation of Smaug, hits big screens all over the country, we celebrate the Dragon of the North in myth and literature. Unlike its Chinese counterpart, western dragons signal trouble from their origins at the bottom of the Norseman’s world to their place atop piles of treasure in Old English Beowulf and J R R Tolkien. Norse and Anglo-Saxon expert and New Generation Thinker Eleanor Barraclough and John Lennard, literature and fantasy scholar, join forces to guide Matthew through a maze of dragons, drakes, worms and were-dragons to discover what is old about the monster and what has been added by modernity and especially modern warfare.

A sneak preview of a viking-themed Son et Lumiere show at the Illuminating York festival.

Illuminating York

It is a thousand years since King Sweyn ‘Forkbeard’ of Denmark was named king of England in 1013 and the Illuminating York Festival is marking the city’s Viking history with an artwork in the form of a Son et Lumiere based around Old Nordic and Anglo Saxon texts. Eleanor Barraclough, Radio 3 New Generation Thinker and lecturer in medieval literature at Durham University, has had a sneak preview.

Discussion about the Norse god Loki with author Joanne Harris.


Author Joanne Harris and Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough discuss the god Loki and the power of Norse mythology. Recorded at the Free Thinking Festival for the Northern Lights season.

BBC/AHRC New Generation Thinkers

In 2013 I was chosen as one of ten New Generation Thinkers in a scheme run by BBC Radio 3 and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The competition aims to find academic broadcasters of the future: ‘the brightest minds who have the potential to turn ground-breaking ideas into fascinating radio programmes.’