An edition of the Magna Carta has been found buried in Kent’s archives.
The historic document which established the principle of the rule of law was discovered at the Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone.
The charter has been authenticated by Professor Nicholas Vincent, of the University of East Anglia, who confirmed it belongs to Sandwich town council.
King Edward I gave the Magna Carta to the barons of Faversham, Kent, in 1300
A spokesman for Kent County Council said the parchment was found by an archivist at the site in James Whatman Way.
It’s understood the document, which is the Charter of Forest, was found in a Victorian scrap book.
The Mayor of Sandwich, Cllr Paul Graeme, believes it may have been in a large amount of paperwork the town arranged to be kept in storage in 1954.
The Kent History and Library Centre in Maidstone
Cllr Graeme said: “Nobody knows how it got there. It’s only one of four in the country.”
The discovery comes as historians prepare to mark the Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary.
The charter was originally issued by King John of England in 1215.
Later this year, a travelling exhibition by Visit Kent will be on show in Canterbury and Faversham, and will now most likely stop in Sandwich.
Cllr Graeme added: “It’s fantastic for Sandwich because it will bring the tourists in and put Sandwich on the map.”
More information about the discovery in Maidstone is expected to be released by KCC tomorrow.