Magna Carta

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Important Notice: Due to conservation requirements Magna Carta will be off display from October to December 2017.

On 15 June 2015, it was 800 years to the day that King John and the barons met at Runnymede and agreed a charter of liberties that would change the course of history.  Magna Carta enshrined the principle that the king had to act within the rule of law and became one of the most celebrated documents in history with enduring worldwide influence.

In 1217 Magna Carta was re-issued with some of the original clauses incorporated into a second charter, Charter of the Forest.  It was at this point that the original charter assumed the name of Magna Carta, meaning Great Charter, to distinguish it from the second, smaller charter.  Lincoln Castle is now the only place in the world where an original 1215 Magna Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forest can be seen side by side, on permanent loan from Lincoln Cathedral.

The new David P J Ross Magna Carta Vault is the crowning glory of Lincoln Castle's £22m restoration.  See Lincoln’s Magna Carta, Charter of the Forest and a guest document in the magnificent surroundings of their stately vault.  Don’t miss the stunning Great Charter Wall and Barons’ Shields, a feast for the eyes.

Alongside the vault is our new underground widescreen cinema with 210 degree wraparound screen and 3D sound.  Immerse yourself in the story of King John, the barons and the birth of the Great Charter.  Magna Carta: Challenging the Power of a King is a dramatic reconstruction of events leading up to the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215.  Magna Carta: Meaning and Myth is a fresh look at the significance of the charter down the ages.  Appealing and accessible, the films are an ideal introduction to Magna Carta and are suitable for adults and children.

Today Magna Carta is regarded as an international icon of liberty and freedom.  It is on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, which recognises important documentary heritage worldwide.

Magna Carta is a must see and you can explore its unique place in English and world history at Lincoln Castle.

... this reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of the Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect with which men have held it.

Sir Winston Churchill, 1956

If you require further details about document rotation and availability please contact our Visitor Experience Team on 01522 554559.

This exhibition has been possible as a result of the Government Indemnity Scheme. Lincoln Castle would like to thank HM Government for providing Government Indemnity and the Department for culture, Media and sport and Arts Council England for arranging the indemnity.