A MEDIEVAL document - viewed as one of the most important in the world for establishing people’s right to liberty and to challenge their leaders – was presented to a market town today.
The Magna Carta, written in 1215, is credited with bringing about the development of modern democracy. It ended the notion that kings could wield a divine power that was accountable to no one and eventually led to the system of constitutional law that exists today in the world.
This year is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and to mark the occasion copies of one of the four original documents have been reproduced on sheepskin parchment and handed out to areas with a direct link to its birth, including Thirsk in North Yorkshire.
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The significant occasion took place before a small crowd on a windswept patch of grass on the spot where Thirsk Castle is believed to have stood, behind Lidl supermarket.
It was presented to the Mayor of Thirsk Janet Watson, by the Queen’s representative in North Yorkshire, the Lord Lieutenant Barry Dodd CBE.
Thirsk was chosen because the Baron of Thirsk, William de Mowbray, was one of the barons involved in the creation of the Magna Carta.
It was drawn up after King John of England violated a number of ancient laws and customs. He was forced him to sign the document which set in stone what effectively were the first human rights and set out people’s equal rights to justice.
The anniversary of the Magna Carter has formed the focus of a number of rallies in the country this year, with lawyers and human rights activists recently marched from Runnymede, Berkshire, where the charter was sealed, to parliament to protest at cuts to legal aid.
Councillor Watson said: “It’s such a boost to Thirsk and the surrounding area.
“Apart from the historic connections, we’re also a tourist town with the Herriot connection and this should help bring more tourists here.”
A number of events due to take place in Thirsk over the coming months to commemorate the Magna Carta anniversary.
Rural Arts has received a £5,000 grant from the national Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee and will work alongside English Heritage, North Yorkshire Records Archive and Thirsk Museum to encourage people to learn more about the Magna Carta and why it is relevant to people today.