A unique 1216 edition of the Magna Carta has gone on display in the North-East for the first time in its 799 year history. Visitors to Durham City are now able to view the only surviving 1216 issue of the charter at the university’s Palace Green Library.
The parchment, which belongs to Durham Cathedral, forms the centrepiece of the three-month Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt exhibition, which is being held to mark the 800th anniversary of the original document being signed by King John and his barons at Runnymede in 1215.
Emma Hamlett, the library’s loans registrar and assistant exhibitions officer, said: “So far it has been really positive and there has been a lot of people through already.
“People are enjoying it and are really engaged with what it is all about.”
The exhibition tells the story of 800 years of civil unrest and explains key points in England’s turbulent history and the struggle between religion, politics and the monarchy.
Ray Harrington, from North Carolina, said: “It was superbly laid out with excellent detail. The summary events left me thinking we don’t appreciate how long it takes to reach these wonderful freedoms we have and they go back 800 years.
“That is a lesson and something for us to thing about as we demand democracy and freedoms for other cultures.”
The section on the Wars of the Roses features swords from Alnwick Castle, gold from the Fishpool Hoard and documents from both the Yorkist and Lancastrian sides.
One of the most impressive artefacts is the Bosworth Crucifix, which is thought to have been used by Richard III, while a Civil War section features the Weardale Chest, which held documents protecting commoners’ rights in the 17th century.
There are also treasures from the Breckenbrough hoard; original records of the trial of Charles I and the leather gloves he wore to his execution.
Diana Harvey, from Hampshire said: “It is a very well put together and there is a very continuous storyline running through it.”