Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson (born Hilda
Roderick Ellis, 1 October 1914 - January 2006) was a
English antiquarian and
academic, writing in particular on Germanic paganism and Celtic paganism.
literary, historical and archaeological evidence to discuss the
stories and customs of Northern Europe. Gods and Myths of
1964) is considered one of the most thorough and reputable sources
on Germanic mythology
. Like many
of her publications, it was credited under the name
H. R. Ellis
. Davidson was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
was president of the Council of the Folklore Society
from 1974 to 1976, and
served on the council from 1956 to 1986. Davidson has been cited as
having "contributed greatly" to the study of Norse mythology
Roderick Ellis was born at Bebington, Wirral, Cheshire, in
1914. She was educated at Park High School
for Girls, Birkenhead. Later, Davidson received a First Class
Honours degree from Newnham College, Cambridge, in English, Archaeology and Anthropology, and
afterward studied pagan Scandinavian
religion for her doctorate.
In 1943, Davidson, under her
Hilda Ellis, published her
first book; The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the
Dead in Old Norse Literature
. Davidson was a
lecturer at Royal Holloway College from 1939 to 1944 and after that at Birbeck
In 1949, she joined the Folklore Society.
joined the Lucy Cavendish College in
Cambridge in 1969 as a Calouste
Gulbenkian Research Fellow, was
appointed a College Lecturer in 1971, was an elected a Fellow in
1974, and was made Vice-President between 1975 and 1980.
1980, Davidson also began working on a biography
of Katharine Mary Briggs
, which she
published in 1986. Davidson received the Folklore Society's Coote
Lake Medal in 1984, and her 1988 work Myths and Symbols of
won the Katharine Briggs Prize that year.
Davidson was an honorary member of the Folklore Society beginning
in 1985 and she founded the Katharine Briggs Club in January 1987.
The first three publications of the club were edited by Davidson
and the third was dedicated to her.
Another interest Davidson held was in the history of folklore
scholarship itself, which led to her editing with Carmen Blacker a
collection of essays on Women and Tradition: A Neglected Group
(2000). In Davidson's later work, she focused
on cultural and religious links between Germanic and Celtic
cultures, showcased at her presence at the Nordic-Celtic-Baltic
Legend Symposiums in Ireland and Copenhagen throughout the 1990s.
She was unable to attend the 2005 meeting due to poor health.
In her later years she ran the Cambridge Folklore Group. Davidson
was a bellringer
at her local church. Davidson died
in Kent in January 2006, aged 91, leaving 2 children and 10
- (1941) "Fostering by Giants in Old Norse Sagas", Med. Aev. 10:
- (1942) "Sigurd in the Art of the Viking Age", Antiquity 16:
- (1943) The Road to Hel: A Study of the Conception of the
Dead in Old Norse Literature, Cambridge University Press,
"originally part of a thesis accepted in 1940 for the degree of
Ph.D. in the University of Cambridge."
- (1950) "The Hill of the Dragon" (Anglo-Saxon Burial Mounds),
- (1950) "Gods and Heroes in Stone" In C. Fox and B. Dickens
(eds.), The Early Cultures of North-West Europe (H.M.
Chadwick Memorial Studies), 123-9, London.
- (1958) The Golden Age of Northumbria, Longmans, [a
volume in the "Then and There Series"].
- (1958) "Weland the Smith," Folklore 69: 145-59.
- (1960) "The Sword at the Wedding" Folklore 71, 1-18.
- (1962) The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England, Boydell
- (1963) "Folklore and Man's Past", Folklore, 74: 527-44,
- (1964) Book Review: Myth and Religion of the North by E. O. G.
Turville-Petre. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson (History of
Religion), 1964. Antiquity 38: 309-310.
- (1964) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin
Books Ltd, Harmondsworth. (later re-published as Gods and Myths
of the Viking Age, Bell Publishing Company, 1980).
- (1965) "The Finglesham Man", Sonia Chadwick Hawkes, H.R.E
Davidson and C. Hawkes, Antiquity, 39: 17-32.
- (1965) "Thor's Hammer", Folklore 76: 1-15.
- (1965) "The Significance of the Man in the Horned Helmet",
Antiquity 39: 23-7.
- (1967) Pagan Scandinavia, (Ancient Peoples and Places
- (1967) "The Anglo-Saxon Burial at Coombe [Woodnesborough],
Kent", Medieval Archeology 11: 1-41 (by H.E. Davidson and L.
- (1969) Scandinavian Mythology, Paul Hamlyn,
- (1969) The Chariot of the Sun and Other Rites and Symbols
of the Northern Bronze Age, by Peter Gelling and H.E.
Davidson, Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, New York.
- (1969) "The Smith and the Goddess", Frühmittelalterliche
Studiern (University of Münster) 3: 216-26.
- (1971) Beowulf and its Analogues, by George Norman
Garmonsway, Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson, and Jacqueline Simpson;
E. P. Dutton.
- (1972) "The Battle God of the Vikings", (G.N. Garmonsway
Memorial Lecture, University of York, Medieval Monographs I,
- (1973) "Hostile Magic in the Icelandic Sagas", The Witch
Figure, ed. V. Newall (london) 20-41.
- (1974) "Folklore and History", Folklore 85.
- (1975) "Scandinavian Cosmology" in C. Blacker and M. Loewe's
Ancient Cosmologies, 172-97, London.
- (1975) "Folklore and Literature", Folklore 86.
- (1976) The Viking Road to Byzantium, Allen and Unwin,
- (1978) Patterns of Folklore, D.S. Brewer Ltd, Ipswich. [Appears
to reprint earlier articles such as "Thor's Hammer" and "The Sword
at the Wedding" also includes an essay on "Lady Godiva"].
- (1978) "Shape-changing in the Old Norse Sagas" in J.R. Porter's
and W.H.S. Russell's Animals in Folklore, 126-42 Folklore Society,
- (1978) "Mithras and Wodan", Études Mithraïques 4: 99-110, Acta
- (1979) "Loki and Saxo's Hamlet", The Fool and the Trickster;
Studies in Honor of Enid Welsford, ed. P.V.A. Williams (Cambridge)
- (1979-80) Saxo Grammaticus, The History of the Danes, Books
I-IX [Peter Fisher Translation]: Edited with Commentary by
H.E. Davidson, Woodbridge: Boydell.
- (Date unknown, pre-1980) Author of the article "Hero" in
- (1980) "Wit and Eloquence in the Courts of Saxo's Early Kings",
"To be published as part of the Saxo Symposium, University of
- (1980) "Insults and Riddles in the Edda Poems", Published in
Edda, A Collection of Essays, 25-46, University of Manitoba
Icelandic Series 4, 1983.
- (1981) "The Restless Dead: An Icelandic Story", in H.E.
Davidson and W.M.S. Russell's (eds.) The Folklore of Ghosts,
Mistletoe Series 15, London Folklore Society.
- (1981) "The Germanic World" in M. Loewe and C. Blacker's
Divination and Oracles,115-41, London.
- (1984) "The Hero in Tradition and Folklore: Papers Read at a
Conference of the Folklore Society Held at Dyffryn House, Cardiff,
July 1982" (World Bibliographical Series), Folklore Society
- (1984) "The Hero as a Fool: The Northern Hamlet", The Hero in
Tradition and Folklore, (ed. H.R.E. Davidson) 30-4, (Mistletoe
Books, 19, Folklore Soc.) London,
- (1988) Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: early
Scandinavian and Celtic religions, Manchester University
- (1989) The Seer in Celtic and Other Traditions, ed. by
Hilda Ellis Davidson, John Donald Publishers, Ltd., Edinburgh,
- (1989) "Hooded men in Celtic and Germanic Tradition" in G.
Davies, Polytheistic Systems, Cosmos 5, 105-124.
- (1989) "The Training of Warriors" in S. C. Hawkes, Weapons and
Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England.
- (1990) "Religious Practices of the Northern Peoples in
Scandinavian Tradition", Temonos 26:23-24
- (1992) "Human Sacrifice in the Late Pagan Period of
North-Western Europe" in M.O.H. Carver's The Age of Sutton Hoo: The
Seventh Century in North-Western Europe, 331-40, Woodbridge.
- (1992) "Royal Graves as Religious Symbols" in W.
Filmer-Sankey's Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archeology and History 5,
- (1993) Boundaries and Thresholds: papers from a colloquium
of the Katherine Briggs Club (editor).
- (1993) The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe,
- (1993) "The Hair and the Dog", Folklore 104: 151-63 by H. E.
Davidson and A. Chaudhri.
- (1993)The Seer in Celtic and other traditions'
- (1996) Katharine Briggs: Story-teller, Lutterworth
- (1996) "Milk and the Northern Goddess" in S. Billington's and
M. Green's The Concept of the Goddess, Routledge, New York. [This
work is a tribute to Davidson].
- (1998) Roles of the Northern Goddess, Routledge,
- (2001) "The Wild Hunt" in Supernatural Enemies, Edited by H.E.
Davidson and Anna Chaudhri. Carolina Academic Press, Durham, N.
- (2001) Women and Tradition, Hilda Ellis Davidson and
Carmen Blacker, Carolina Academic Press, Durham, N.C.
- (2003) A Companion to the Fairy Tale, Hilda Ellis
Davidson and Anna Chaudhri, Boydell & Brewer Ltd.
- Billington, Sandra. (1994) "Preface: The Life And Works of
Hilda Ellis Davidson" as collected in The Concept of the Goddess (1996) Routledge ISBN 0415144213
- James, E. O. (1965). Review of Gods and Myths of Northern
- Lindow, John (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes,
Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford University Press. ISBN
- Tucker, Michael (1989). Review of Myths and Symbols of
Pagan Europe, Journal of Design History.
- Simpson, Jacqueline (August
2006). " Hilda Davidson". Originally published in
Folklore, hosted at BNET.