Man arrested after trying to steal Magna Carta copy from Salisbury Cathedral

British police have arrested a man after he apparently tried to steal one of the original copies of Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral.

The Wiltshire Police released this statement:

A 45-year-old man is in custody this morning arrested on suspicion of attempted theft of the Magna Carta. Shortly before 5pm yesterday (Oct 25) alarms were activated at Salisbury Cathedral after an attempt was made to smash the glass box surrounding the Magna Carta. Staff were alerted and police were called.


A man matching the description given by witnesses was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage, and has been taken to Melksham custody for questioning where he remains.

The Magna Carta has not been damaged and nobody was injured in the incident.

We are aware there were a number of witnesses to the incident who may not have spoken to police. If this was you, please get in touch via 101 and quote crime reference number 541800101438.


News reports indicate that the man was using a hammer to smash the protective cover over the document, which is one of the four original surviving copies of Magna Carta created in 1215.

The Salisbury Journal reports an eyewitness account: “We were walking past the cathedral as the alarms started, and everyone was starting to come out.As we got to the stonemason’s gateway we heard some shouting and could see a few people coming out of the gates so we stopped. It looked like some men ‘play-fighting’ but as they got through the gates I saw a hammer drop to the floor and one of the men kicked it into the road whilst another man held on to him.”

Officials from Salisbury Cathedral report that the document is unharmed, but has been removed from public viewing.

Top Photo: Salisbury Cathedral – photo by Josep Renalias / Wikimedia Commons