David Berry Prize

The David Berry Prize is for the best 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 proxime accessit 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

  • The essay submitted must be a genuine work of research based on original (manuscript or printed) materials.
  • The essay should be between 6,000 and 10,000 words in length (excluding footnotes and appendices).
  • Essays already published or accepted for future publication are eligible for submission.
  • 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.
  • 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 December 2021


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