Magna Carta: repositioning the secular as ‘sacred’

Ardley, Barry and Voase, Richard (2013) Magna Carta: repositioning the secular as ‘sacred’. International Journal of Heritage Studies, 19 (4). pp. 341-352. ISSN 1352-7258

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Magna Carta is an English legal document, of mediaeval origin. Its salience subsists in the origination of principles such as habeas corpus, trial by jury, and the right of the people to representation in government. This paper considers how one of the remaining copies, held in Lincoln, UK, can best be presented for public view. The approach is essentially conceptual, underpinned by primary research in the form of an exit survey. The findings suggested some visitor dissatisfaction with the current display. This is interpreted by a discussion of the nature of tourist gazing and anticipation, drawing on the theoretical work of Cambell, Urry, MacCannell and Foucault. A revised presentational paradigm is proposed, drawing on the writings of Durkheim, Benjamin, and Bell. It is argued, with reference to a comparable model elsewhere, that the key to meeting visitor expectations is to re-imagine Magna Carta as a ‘sacred’ rather than a secular document. The practical implication is to present the document in a way as to generate aura. Forthcoming intentions to re-design the display, to coincide with the 800th anniversary of the signing of the document, add import to the discussion.

Keywords:Magna Carta, heritage, visitor, consumption, sacred
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D445 Heritage Management
Divisions:Lincoln International Business School
ID Code:5629
Deposited On:22 May 2012 19:35

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