Forgotten Ground Regained
O.D. (Duncan) Macrae-Gibson
- O. D. (Duncan) Macrae-Gibson was a stalwart specimen of a declining species, the academic specialist in Old English and Old Norse. His abounding enthusiasm was for Old English, and this passion fuelled his entire teaching and research career. Completion of his Oxford doctorate was followed by a short period on the academic staff there, and subsequently by a move to Leicester. Duncan, however, though a Londoner by birth, came of Scottish stock; and the call of his ancestral homeland brought him in 1965 to the University of Aberdeen, where he was to spend the greatest part of his scholarly career, maintaining the teaching of Old English, Middle English and Old Norse with legendary enthusiasm. Naturally, a scholar whose teaching and published research, notably editions of The Rhyming Poem and Of Arthour and Merlin, had earned him an unchallengeable reputation would not abandon his work after retirement. His interest in hiking and hill-walking proved an asset during summers camping in Iceland and exploring the battlefields of the Sagas, and during the exhaustive examination of the Maldon terrain which led to a landmark article ‘How historical isThe Battle of Maldon?’ (Medium Ævum XXXIX:2, 89-107). His musical gifts too were occasionally turned to professional use: he is surely the only scholar in recent times who could sing ‘Caedmon’s Hymn’ accompanying himself on a reconstructed Sutton Hoo harp. Duncan Macrae-Gibson was a man of many parts – scholar, sportsman, musician, linguist – whose contribution to the field of Old English is enormous; but those who had the privilege of knowing him personally will always remember him as an inspiring and imaginative teacher, a much-admired colleague and friend, and a devoted family man.