David Berry Prize

The David Berry Prize is for the best published essay addressing an aspect of Scottish history. The winner is awarded a prize of £250. The Prize was endowed by David Anderson-Berry in memory of his father the Reverend David Berry.  In 1937 the first David Berry Prize was awarded to G. Donaldson for his essay ‘The polity of the Scottish reformed Church c.1460-1580, and the rise of the Presbyterian movement’.

2020 Winner

Scott Dempsey was awarded the 2020 David Berry Prize for an essay, ‘Legitimating Edward I’s Adjudication of the Scottish Succession: Two Notes on the Great Cause’.

Judges’ citation:

“Technically brilliant, this is an introduction to an intellectual history of the Scottish wars of Independence. It describes how Edward’s eventual claim to the Scottish throne was based on a relentless exploration of the idea of lordship in Roman law which he considered integral to kingship. Yet at the same time the article demonstrates the intellectual eclecticism of these islands in the late thirteenth century in that Edward borrowed from the late Roman republic the composition of the prestigious centumviri court to decide the Scottish succession. The piece shows that taking seriously the justifications that Edward offered for his actions during 1291-2 – which is distinct from blindly accepting them as truthful or even sincere accounts- sheds new light on both Scottish and English history at this time”.

Mark R.F. Williams was named runner-up for the 2020 David Berry Prize for an essay, ‘The Inner Lives of Early Modern Travel’. 

A list of all past winners of the David Berry Prize is available here.

How to Enter

  • Candidates must be doctoral students in a historical subject in a UK institution, or be within two years of having a submitted a corrected thesis in a historical subject in a UK institution at the time of the closing date for entries.
  • The essay submitted must be a genuine work of research based on original (manuscript or printed) materials.
  • The article or essay must have been published in a journal or edited collection during the calendar year 2020. Advanced access publisher versions are also eligible, but an item cannot be entered more than once in subsequent years.
  • Previous prize winners are not eligible to enter for the prize again.
  • Please note that an electronic copy of your essay will need to be uploaded to the entry form.
  • To submit an entry, please complete this Entry Form.

Closing date for entries: 31 December 2020


All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Imogen Evans at: adminsecretary@royalhistsoc.org