Multispectral Imaging Found Magna Carta Passages Lost for 250 Years

By Kate Knibbs on at

Next year is the 800th anniversary of sealing the Magna Carta, and to prepare for the milestone, British Library conservationists used multispectral imaging to save parts of the text thought to be lost.

Multispectral imaging uses different coloured lights to illuminate faded texts. The scientists placed a high-resolution camera over one of the British Library's two original 1215 Magna Carta manuscripts, using LED lights, including UV and infrared lights, to tease passages back from the ravages of time.

The version they went over is called the 'burnt manuscript' and had been damaged in a fire in 1731, so it's even more bedraggled than a normal 800-year-old book. Yet colour UV images still showed parts of the ancient book that you can't see just by looking at it.

Want to see what it says? Me too, but we have to wait until the British Library's exhibition next year. It'll run from March to September in London, so you have plenty of time to book a train ticket and take advantage of the early bird fare. [British Library]

Image via British Library