A tiny town in Kent County boasts an impressive find: an original copy of the 1300 Magna Carta. The BBC reports that Dr. Mark Bateson, a Kent Archivist, found the historical document neatly stored in a Victorian scrapbook along with the Charter Of the Forest, a companion document to the Magna Carta.
It is estimated that because this Magna Carta is somewhat preserved (a third of it has been torn off and is missing its seal) and includes the additional charter, the manuscripts could fetch as much as £10 million if the town council decides to part with it.
There is only one other pair in existence, and that is owned by the prestigious Oriel College of Oxford.
It is understood that the town of Sandwich intends on keeping their copy of the Magna Carta, and putting it on display in hopes of encouraging tourism to their town.
This newly found copy of the Magna Carta brings the total number of original 1300 documents up to 7, with 24 copies of the Magna Carta scattered across the world. Finding this new document gives researches hope that more original copies exist.
The Magana Carta was written by the then Archbishop of Canterbury and was approved by King John in 1215 to help establish peace between the king and a group of rebel barons who believed themselves to be taxed unfairly by the crown.
Several basic human rights were outlined in the charter, making the document the first of its kind. The first of which was that no one was above the law, not even the King. Secondly, the Magna Carta limited taxation without representation, and proposed that every individual had the right to a fair trial.
There are only three clauses that are still valid today, and those are guaranteeing the liberties of the Church Of England, the privileges of the City Of London and outlying towns, and the right to a trial by jury.
Several countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand can trace their constitutional roots back to the Magna Carta. Its importance can be seen and felt throughout history, so this find is incredibly significant for not only Sandwich, but for the entire U.K. as well.
The find comes on the heels of another important discovery revealed within a copy of the Magna Carta that had suffered damage during the fire of Cotton Library in 1731. This document was one of the four remaining copies of the original 1215 agreement signed by King John, and of great historical importance. Through the use of multi-spectral imaging at the British Library, researchers were able to reveal what was once thought lost to fire damage and read the document as a whole, and as King John had read and agreed to over 800 hundred years ago.
For more information on the Magna Carta, please visit the British Library.