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Via handwriting analysis, scholar discovers unknown Magna Carta scribe

Stashed in: History!, Penmanship

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According to Treharne, her research suggests the Salisbury Magna Carta was not just received and preserved at Salisbury, but that the Salisbury Magna Carta was written at Salisbury by one of the cathedral's own scribes. She recently co-published her findings with University of Glasgow historian Andrew Prescott.

Treharne's work is a testament to how sometimes big discoveries can come unexpectedly from the pull of scholarly curiosity and from nurturing a fertile field of research.

"I didn't set out to find anything out – I just thought it was quite interesting to look at the hand of the Magna Carta scribe," she said. "But it struck me really forcefully when I first saw this Register of St. Osmund. When I opened it I thought, goodness, that really looks like the Magna Carta scribe."

Treharne emphasizes that discoveries like these highlight the importance of both preservation and access. Her work on the Magna Carta is now part of the larger book she has been writing, Collective Memories in Salisbury Cathedral Library and Archive, 1200-1800.

The scholar says the history of the Salisbury archive is "an incredible story of collecting and preserving and producing, and actually protecting."

Can you imagine the attention to detail needed to make this discovery? Wow!