The new vault designed to house Lincoln’s original copy of the Magna Carta has been revealed as part of the restoration project at Lincoln Castle.
Heritage construction company Woodhead Heritage and Lincolnshire County Council held a traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony to mark the major milestone on Thursday, May 29.
The subterranean vault forms part of the council’s £22 million Lincoln Castle Revealed project.
Now in its fourth and final year, the project is seeing the finishing touches made to the new home of the Magna Carta (1215) and the Charter if the Forest (1217).
The vault has been designed by architects Arrol & Snell in conjunction with RAA Associates Interpretation Designers, and maintains environmentally-controlled conditions, keeping the documents preserved, while allowing visitors to view them together.
The ceremony also saw the launch of a new book by Carole and Nicholas Bennett, Magna Carta, the Lincoln Story, which commemorates Lincolnshire’s strong connections with the famous document.
The book looks at key figures such as Stephen Langton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was known as the ‘chief architect of Magna Carta’, originally from Langton by Wragby in Lincolnshire.
It also features the Bishop of Lincoln, Hugh of Wells, who set up the first system of record keeping in any English diocese.
The project also includes the construction of a cinema to screen films about Magna Carta and a new shop and cafe for visitors.
The work is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) and Lincolnshire County Council.
Councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Culture and Heritage, said: “Lincoln Castle will be the only place in the world where Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest can be seen together.
“It will also be the only place to have a dedicated new building and exhibition to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta in 2015.
“This will make the castle an attraction of international importance, bringing in many more visitors from near and far – good news for the local economy.”
Simon Butler, Conservation Manager for Woodhead Heritage, said: “We have been working on the Lincoln Castle Revealed project since it began, and the completion of Magna Carta vault puts us one step closer to completing this unique project for Lincolnshire County Council.
“It has of course been a challenge with the many complexities that are often faced when carrying out conservation and restoration works, within the grounds of a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
“It has been a fantastic site to work on and we’re delighted to be celebrating this important milestone with a traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony.”