Devon man charged for attempted theft of Magna Carta in Salisbury

The glass case protecting the ancient manuscript was smashed in an attempt to steal it. Credit: PA images

A man from Devon has been charged with trying to steal one of the oldest surviving copies of the Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral.

It follows an incident on 25 October last year (2018) when the glass surrounding the historic manuscript was smashed, setting off the cathedral's alarms.

46-year-old Mark Royden has been charged with attempted theft and criminal damage.

He'll appear at Salisbury Magistrates' Court on Friday 28 June.

Salisbury Cathedral is home to one of the oldest surviving copies of the ancient document. Credit: ITV West Country

After the incident the manuscript was stored away while work was carried out to repair the broken glass case.

In the three months that followed, the cathedral exhibited a near perfect replica before the original went back on display in February 2019.

The damaged glass from the original case is now being exhibited alongside the Magna Carta in the exhibition, to play a part in the narrative of the document.

The document went back on display inside Salisbury Cathedral earlier this year. Credit: PA images

What is Magna Carta?

  • Magna Carta means 'great charter' - a legal document issued by the king or queen which guarantees certain rights.

  • It's famous as a symbol of justice, fairness and human rights.

  • Magna Carta has more than 60 clauses. One of the most important includes the right to justice and a fair trial.

  • It was issued by England's King John in June 1215 in an attempt to prevent a civil war.

  • Salisbury Cathedral's copy is one of several written immediately after King John agreed peace terms with barons at Runnymede.

  • It's now one of four surviving copies.