MAGNA MATTERS!

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Published on April 06, 2015 with No Comments

Stonehenge on the Wiltshire plain.

Stonehenge on the Wiltshire plain.
Picture 1 of 10

Credit: Visit Britain

See history come alive across the UK at the Magna Carta attractions.

Words SURIANI ARIFF
Images MAGNA CARTA TRAILS

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, one of the most important documents in British and world history. Those visiting the UK can look forward to many events planned around the anniversary, foremost of which is a dedicated Magna Carta tourist trail that covers six different aspects of the Magna Carta story.

he corner stone of modern freedom, many are still oblivious to the significance of the Magna Carta. Magna Carta matters. It is the foundation stone supporting the freedoms enjoyed today by millions of people in more than 100 countries. Magna Carta enshrined the Rule of Law in English society. It limited the power of authoritarian rule. It paved the way for trial by jury, modified through the ages as the franchise was extended. It defined limits on taxation; every American remembers that “no taxation without representation” was the cry of the American colonists petitioning the King for their rights as free men.

For centuries, it has influenced constitutional thinking worldwide including in France, Germany, Japan, the United States and India as well as many Commonwealth countries, and throughout Latin America and Africa. Over the past 800 years, denials of Magna Carta’s basic principles have led to a loss of liberties, loss of human rights and even genocide. It is an exceptional document on which democratic society has been constructed.

The Magna Carta Trails invite you to make your own journey, tracing the many locations across England that tells the tales of this important period of medieval history. It provides visitors with 2-3 day self-guided itineraries, including major tourist destinations, such as the British Library, to some of the most beautiful small towns and villages that all played an important role in securing Magna Carta almost 800 years ago.

In the London to Windsor trail (4 days), for example, you can stand on the spot of the significant showdown at Runnymede, where King John sealed Magna Carta in 1215. The trail will also take you to the British Library, where two of the only surviving four copies of the 1215 version of Magna Carta are housed with other original medieval documents in a dedicated Magna Carta room. Conclude your trail on Day 4 in Windsor, the home of King John.

Another trail takes you through, among others, the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge, where you can explore one of the Baron Towns. Beginning from Salisbury, you’ll just need two days on this trail that will bring you to what is arguably considered the finest preserved copy of the 1215 Magna Carta. Housed at Salisbury Cathedral, your journey will then take you to Trowbridge, home of Henry de Bohun, one of the 25 barons elected to enforce Magna Carta in the early 13th century.

A fourth and final 1215 Magna Carta is displayed in Lincoln Castle in a new Magna Carta vault. As you explore the Lincoln trail (3 days), it will take also take you to Durham, where three editions of Magna Carta dated 1216, 1225 and 1300 are held in Durham Cathedral, recently voted the UK’s Number One Landmark. Additionally, the 1216 issue will be on display in Durham City from 1 June to 31 August, 2015 at Durham University’s Palace Green Library.

For those who prefer to be on a tour, the website www.magnacartatrails.com also details accredited guides, tour operators and agents that offer packages to make planning your Magna Carta trails easier. There is also a wealth of other information about the destinations on the trail, including events to mark the anniversary. So whether you have a day, a long weekend or are planning a fortnight-long pilgrimage, discover the rich history across the land of Magna Carta, the guarantor of our freedoms and the legal basis for our centuries-old way of life.

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