Primary schools across the UK are to be sent a copy of Magna Carta to help teach pupils about the legacy of the famous historic document during its 800th anniversary year.
Magna Carta, meaning the Great Charter, was a treaty signed by King John in 1215 in a bid to make peace with a group of rebel barons. It set out the principle that nobody, even the king, was above the law and gave all free men the right to justice and a fair trial. It has been described as a cornerstone of the British constitution.
The Magna Carta Chronicle that will be sent to schools combines a souvenir copy of the charter, a fold-out timeline and more than 45 newspaper stories to allow pupils to read about the events of 800 years ago as if they happened yesterday.
The initiative, led by the Magna Carta Trust, is part of ongoing commemorations. Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the committee, said the initiative was an opportunity for young people to learn about an “epic narrative that continues to shape our world”.
He said: “The fight for freedom and rights and the rule of law is a global story, but one that should be extra special to everyone living in the UK since its origins and dramas – from the freedom to choose our rulers and religion, to equality of opportunity and the right to live without fear of unlawful imprisonment – are so inextricably linked to the history of Britain itself.
“All these, and many other freedoms, are charted in this unique young person’s guide in a highly accessible and visually stunning style which all began when the will of the king was first challenged by 25 barons in the water meadow at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.”
Four copies of the original 1215 charter still exist. Two are held by the British Library, one by Lincoln Cathedral and one in Salisbury Cathedral.
Earlier this year, a 1300 copy of the charter was discovered in the Kent County Council’s archives in Maidstone. It is thought to be worth up to £10 million.
In 2011, former education secretary Michael Gove announced that a copy of the King James Bible would be sent to all schools to mark its 400th anniversary. The scheme was privately funded and the bibles were sent out in 2012.