A Jewish student at Manchester Grammar School has won a University of Oxford archaeology essay-writing competition for his work on an archaeological site in Israel, earning him £250 in the process.

Saul Blankstone, 17, of Hale, wrote about the evidence excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa, the site of an ancient fortress city overlooking the Elah Valley, after the ruins of the fortress were uncovered in 2007, near the Israeli city of Beit Shemesh, 30km from Jerusalem.

Oxford-bound Saul scooped the Senior Wainwright Schools Essay Prize this week, with assessors saying his submission was “scholarly, elegantly-written and tightly-argued”. They added that his “balanced appreciation of complex material is outstandingly mature and amongst the very best we have received in the past.”

Saul said: “I’m honoured to have won such a prestigious prize. I would really encourage anyone who is studying history or archaeology to enter this competition as it gives you the opportunity to explore something a bit different, a bit more niche, than the traditional syllabus.”