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Fish weirs, Doctor Who and Fort Knox – things you didn’t know about Magna Carta

In the last in a series of videos celebrating 800 years of Magna Carta, TV historian David Starkey reveals that a host of US states still include the historic document in their constitution – including a reference to fish weirs on the Medway and Thames – while other fascinating facts linked to the charter feature Fort Knox and Doctor Who.


Here are 10 more things you might not know about the historic document.

1 – Magna Carta was written on parchment, which was made from dried sheepskin.

2 – The scribes who produced the charter abbreviated words to save space on the parchment.

3 – Lincoln Cathedral’s copy of Magna Carta was on display in New York when the Second World War began and then spent nearly six years locked in Fort Knox.

4 – Lisa Simpson sang a song about Magna Carta in episode 187 of The Simpsons cartoon series.

5 – In July, 2013, rapper Jay-Z exhibited the cover art for his album Magna Carta…Holy Grail in Salisbury Cathedral, next to one of the surviving copies of the document.

6 – When Nelson Mandela stood trial in 1964, he cited Magna Carta clauses 39 and 40 in his defence – arguing for the necessity of ensuring the “independence and impartiality” of any judicial system.

7 –  In 2007, a copy of Magna Carta dating from 1297 sold at auction for £10.6 million.

8 – Less than a year after sealing Magna Carta King John died from food poisoning.

9 – Oliver Cromwell reportedly referred to Magna Carta as “Magna Farta”.

10 – The sealing of Magna Carta featured in a 1983 episode of Doctor Who.



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