RSE Sir Walter Scott Medal

The RSE Sir Walter Scott Medal recognises exceptional achievements in arts, humanities and social science by a senior career researcher. This award meets with the Society’s strategic objective of increasing public understanding of science and the arts and humanities. The awardees are required to have a Scottish connection but can be based anywhere in the world.

Senior-career definition: academics who are normally beyond 15 years from the award of their doctorate. This terminology takes no account of either an applicant’s age or current status in determining eligibility for this award. This does not include career breaks.


Nominations are currently closed.



Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet. He was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America. Sir Walter Scott was the third President of the RSE from 1820 to 1832. His novels and poetry are still read, and many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor.


YearName(s)Institution Awarded
2024Dr Iain Gordon Brown FSA FRSEHon Fellow, National Library of Scotland; Consultant, Sir John Soane’s Museum, LondonFor his contributions to a national institution that supports academic research in vital ways. Dr Brown has assisted and advised countless scholars all over the world, playing a major part in the expansion of the national collections, and much of his service was devoted to publicising and exploiting them through publications and exhibitions. Without the usual advantages of an academic career, he has established himself as a scholar of distinction.
2023Professor Richard Bradley FSA, HonFSAScot, FBAUniversity of ReadingFor his outstanding and sustained contribution to Scottish prehistoric archaeology through his fieldwork, service to scholarship and paradigm-changing publications. 
2022No award made
2021Professor John Peter RenwickUniversity of EdinburghOne of the world’s leading experts on the French Enlightenment in recognition for the monumental and ground-breaking contribution he made to the 140-volume Complete Works of Voltaire, and his responsibility in the scholarly resurrection of the highly significant figure, Jean-François Marmontel.
2020No award made
2019Professor Kathryn RudyUniversity of St AndrewsFor her outstanding contribution to art history, where her capacity for lateral thinking has meant she has been able to examine a large corpus of manuscripts in ways unexplored by previous scholars.
2018Professor Duncan Macmillan FRSEUniversity of EdinburghFor his outstanding contribution to the appreciation of Scottish Art and its place within the European Tradition.
2017Professor Robert Bartlett FBA FRSEUniversity of St AndrewsFor his outstanding work as one of the world’s leading historians and his communication to a mass audience through his rigorous, imaginative and highly original research.
A man standing in front of a building