Rees Davies Prize

The Rees Davies Prize for an outstanding Master’s thesis commemorates former RHS President and distinguished medieval scholar, Professor Sir Rees Davies (1938-2005). It is awarded for the best Master’s dissertation submitted by a UK institution of Higher Education. The winner is awarded a prize of £250 and invited to submit an article based on the dissertation to be considered for publication in Transactions.

The RHS is delighted to announce that the Rees Davies Prize for 2017 has been awarded to Ashley Atkins (University of St Andrews) for ‘The authorship, function, and ideological origins of the Claim of Right of 1989’.

The judges commented:

This dissertation rehabilitates the Scottish Claim of Right of 1989. Hitherto, it has been often ignored or else confused with the similarly-titled Claim of Right of 1988, but the author shows just how different the origins and purposes of the two were: that of 1989 drew on a tradition of popular sovereignity beginning with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, while that of 1988 arose from the existential crisis of the Scottish left, and focused on the immediate case for a Scottish Constitutional Convention. Both Claims are thoroughly contextualised, and the importance of 1989 comes out very clearly. Its primary authors, it transpires, were the Scottish Churches, which evoked a Reformed Church tradition reaching back to the National Covenant of 1638. Nor is this arcane research: as the author observes, the Claim of 1989 is still ‘a living document used by politicians to shape the current political discourse in Scotland’. The argument is thoroughly convincing, superbly demonstrated on the basis of a range of primary and secondary sources, and written with remarkable lucidity, elegance and panache.”

How to Enter

  • The Rees Davies Prize is awarded for the best dissertation submitted in 2018 as part of a one-year full-time (or two-year part-time) postgraduate Master’s degree in any UK institution of Higher Education.
  • The potential number of entries to the Prize is large and to reduce numbers to manageable proportions we limit entries to one for every UK Higher Education institution.
  • Departments are invited to nominate the candidate judged by the examiners to have presented the best Master’s dissertation. Please note that an electronic copy of the dissertation will need to be uploaded to the entry form.
  • For further information on how to enter, please refer to the Guidelines.
  • Once you have read the guidelines please complete this Entry Form.

Closing date for entries: 31 January 2019

Past winners of the Rees Davies Prize

All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Melanie Ransom, at: