Someone (Unsuccessfully) Tried to Steal the Magna Carta

Michael Nagle, Getty Images
Michael Nagle, Getty Images / Michael Nagle, Getty Images

A copy of the Magna Carta, one of Britain's most valued possessions, was the target of an attempted burglary on Thursday, October 25. As the BBC reports, police have arrested a suspect and the document has been taken off display for the time being.

A silent alarm sounded at the Salisbury Cathedral after the man smashed a hammer through the glass box protecting the artifact. When he attempted to flee the scene, cathedral staff members tackled him to the ground and held him there until police arrived.

The Salisbury Magna Carta is one of only four surviving copies of the original document, and according to the cathedral, theirs is the best preserved. The would-be thief succeeded in breaking through one of the protective glass screens Thursday night, but the artifact itself is unharmed.

Chartered in 1215, the Magna Carta established important legal principles, such as that no one is above the law and that all people have the right to a fair trial. While it's been revised many times since it was first issued, the Magna Carta remains one of the most influential government documents in history—directly inspiring the U.S. Constitution and those of free nations around the world.

The Salisbury Cathedral hopes to get the Magna Carta back on display soon. In the meantime, a facsimile copy will be put out for the public to view.

[h/t BBC]