Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magna Carta Goes on Display in Durham

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Magna Carta Goes on Display in Durham

Article excerpt

Byline: David Whetstone Culture Editor david.whetstone@ncjmedia.co.uk

FOR centuries it has lain out of sight - but Durham Cathedral's 1216 copy of the Magna Carta will be the centre of attention when a big new exhibition opens on Monday.

Magna Carta and the Changing Face of Revolt is a journey through English and British bolshiness through the ages.

There are plenty of fabulous exhibits - shining coins that were buried in haste and silver vessels used in dangerous expressions of religious faith - but lots of horrible history too.

A mighty musket tells of civil war while iron thumb shackles recall a time when to be Catholic was to risk torture and death.

The first big exhibition at Durham University's Palace Green Library, in 2013, focused on the Lindisfarne Gospels with the decorated book the final, showstopping exhibit.

This exhibition starts with the Magna Carta in a glass display case.

It is rather a dull and functional-looking piece of parchment, sepia-toned, slightly stained and covered with Latin script in an elaborate, sloping hand.

But its significance lies in what it says. Among its declarations is this: "No free man shall be arrested, or imprisoned, or dispossessed, or outlawed, or exiled, or in any other way ruined... except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land."

And also this: "To no-one will we sell, to no-one will we refuse or delay, right or justice."

Those principles hold good today but this exhibition, starting with Magna Carta and approaching recent times with large photos of the Jarrow Crusade, the miners' strike and the Arab Spring, shows they didn't guarantee a just or peaceful world.

Canon Rosalind Brown, librarian at Durham Cathedral, said the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta had generated unprecedented interest in the cathedral's three copies of the document, the others dating from 1225 and 1300. …

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