MRC Undergraduate Dissertation Prize

Browse the past winners of our prize for best undergraduate dissertation in medieval studies. The Medieval Research Centre Prize was set up in 2007 in memory of A G and A L Postles.

2013

Sally McLean (Archaeology BA) - Weaving in Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian Britain

The material culture of early medieval settlements in Britain has been examined at length by archaeologists, but one aspect of craft production which has received less attention is that of textile production. Although loom weights are often found, especially in the rural settlements of the early Anglo Saxon period, there has been little discussion of what these loom weights and other tools of textile production can tell us.

This paper offers an examination of Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian weaving technology as it is evidenced by the archaeology of British sites, and in particular describes the cultural influences which were brought by Anglo-Saxon and Viking migrations to Britain. The distribution of different types of loom weights and tools is examined and compared to those of the northern European and Scandinavian homelands of the Anglo Saxons and Vikings. Tentative conclusions are discussed in terms of the weaving technology itself, as well as the impact of migrations to Britain and the subsequent effects of urbanisation on weaving practices.

2012

Alistair Thompson (Archaeology BA by distance learning) - From Prehistoric Past to Saxon Christian Present: the reuse of prehistoric sites in Wessex

Alistair's dissertation discusses the appropriation of prehistoric monuments for early medieval church and monastic enclosures, focusing on the heartlands of Wessex (Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset).

By investigating archival material and specific examples, it investigates both the pagan ‘past’ landscape and its transformation into a Saxon Christian ‘present’. It considers the motivations behind the reuse of prehistoric monuments and landscapes and the adaptation of monuments for the siting of early ecclesiastical foundations. Was the recycling of prominent landscape features a sign of continuity of worship or of pagan places being cleansed, assimilated or erased by an emergent Christian Church?

2011

Thomas Wex (History BA) - Soldiers of Misfortune: A new perspective on the role of soldiers in Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1450

2009

Susan Kilby (History BA) - Struggle and Enterprise: the Experience of Servile Peasants in Wellingborough, 1258-1322

Subsequently published as S Kilby, 'Struggle and Enterprise: the Experience of Servile Peasants in Wellingborough, 1258-1322', Midland History, 35:1 (2010), 7-27.

2008

Ian Thompson (History BA) - Fortified Towns and Royal Power in Early Medieval England and Spain, 870-1200

and

Alexandra Mears (English BA) - Gender and Religion in Old English Saints' Lives

2007

Richard Nevell (Archaeology and Ancient History BA) - In the Shadow of the Gatehouse: A study of castle gates and approaches in North West England

Subsequently published as R Nevell, 'Castle gatehouses in North West England', Castle Studies Group Journal 26 (2012-13), pp. 257-281.