Charlie Cornish-Dale

Royal seal of approval for history student

A prestigious competition which selects the best dissertations from history departments across the country placed an Exeter student as a runner up.

Charlie Cornish-Dale’s case study of a Scandinavian noble exploited a gap in history by providing information about the nature of King Cnut’s reign (1016-1035) which had not been presented before.

The dissertation was about Orc, a Scandinavian noble who settled in Dorset which was of particular interest to Charlie who is from the West Country. He said, ‘The possibility of finding out more about an area close to my heart appealed to me. Cnut’s reign is quite sparsely documented, and it has been difficult for historians to draw firm conclusions about he nature of his conquest and rule as a result.’

The 22 year old who has now graduated added, ‘Orc is an exception as there is a large body of evidence regarding his activities so I was able to use him as a case study to draw conclusions about him, the nature of Cnut’s reign and view other figures in history that appear otherwise only fleetingly.’

The coveted prize is offered jointly by History Today, the history periodical and the Royal Historical Society, the professional body which represents the discipline. Under the rules of the competition each university history department nationally is allowed to submit only one dissertation each year.

Dr Julia Crick, history lecturer at the University of Exeter said, ‘This is a tremendous achievement for Charlie and further evidence that our graduates can compete with the best in the UK. Charlie's achievement is especially impressive because of the level of independent work involved, at Exeter the dissertation is a 10,000-word piece of research conducted by the student.’

This is the first time an Exeter student has got this far in this renowned history competition. Although he didn’t win overall Charlie is pleased with the outcome, he said ‘The possible benefits of entering such a competition far outweigh any negatives, such as the disappointment of not winning. It capped off a great year for me; as I went into my final year, I was anxious to give my best.’

Charlie added, ‘Because this prize was a national one, the standards are high and competition stiff, but it is an immensely valuable way to begin to make a name for oneself in the highly competitive academic work, as well as being a prestigious addition to a CV.’

Date: 18 March 2010

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