The SCHA John Durkan Prize

Supporting doctoral students in Scottish Catholic history.

Dr John Durkan

The Scottish Catholic Historical Association is delighted to announce doctoral scholarship support in honour of Dr John Durkan. The current holder of the John Durkan Prize is Mara Schmueckle of the University of Edinburgh.

Mara Schmueckle

Mara’s research explores the process of marriage formation in Pre-Reformation Catholic Scotland. In this period the Catholic church was responsible for setting and enforcing the laws which governed who could marry, and what process they had to undergo to have a valid marriage. Many individuals fell foul of these rules, often because in the kinship focused society of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, they wanted to marry someone from their kin network.

Breaches of these rules meant the couple needed to engage with the church in order to have their marriage declared valid. The church allowed couples to apply for a dispensation of their marriage, and applications from all over Scotland, including the Highlands and Islands, made their way to the Apostolic Penitentiary in Rome. These rich records include details of family networks, marriage formation, children and more. Using these records in combination with local archive material, this research promises to deliver exciting new insights about the daily interactions between the laity and the central institutions of the Catholic Church and Roman Curia in the important century before the Reformation. It will also use these materials to explore relationships across Scotland, discovering how individuals and their families managed relationships and marriage.

The SCHA Bernard Aspinwall Postgraduate Prize

Supporting the research of early career scholars.


Bernard Aspinwall was a lecturer and scholar, who worked for many years at Glasgow and Strathclyde universities. His research output in Scottish Catholic history was prodigious. The Association supports young scholars through this bursary scheme named after him.

Applications from scholars and postgraduate students are welcomed. The £250 prize will be awarded for the best submitted essay on any aspect of Scottish Catholic history.  Deadline is 31 May each year, with notification within 6 weeks.

Please submit application with a covering letter containing your address, email address and a contact telephone number to the Secretary at

The SCHA Conference Bursaries

Supporting students to attend our annual conference.


The Association provides bursaries for students at Scottish universities to attend our annual conference. Attendance and travel costs up to £25 are available for 6 students.

Bursaries will normally be advertised in the months before a conference via social media and other mailing lists.

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