Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Thursday 05 August |
The Commemoration of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

600-year-old manuscript of history that inspired ‘Game of Thrones’ is available online


© University of Canterbury | With permission

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/30/18

Scholars have digitized the 15th-century manuscript and are examining it in hopes of uncovering hidden secrets.

For the first time in modern history, the Canterbury Roll, a 16-foot long, 600-year-old scroll that chronicles the major players and events English history, is available for viewing by the public, according to a report in

The ancient and unique manuscript, which traces English lineage from Noah to the English kings and queens of the late Middle Ages, dates back to the time of the War of the Roses, a series of English civil wars that inspired the show Game of Thrones.

Scholars at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, where the scroll has been held for the last 100 years, hope to have the entire manuscript digitized by the end of this year. A “stage one” version is now available online.

“The Canterbury Roll is the most significant and substantial medieval artifact in New Zealand. For 100 years, UC has been the guardian of this unique 600-year-old treasure, which tells the history of England from its mythical origins to the late Middle Ages,” said University of Canterbury Senior Lecturer Chris Jones.

“No one has anything like this in New Zealand or Australia. And it’s utterly bonkers that no one really knows we have it, because it’s magnificent!”

The Wars of the Roses took place over three centuries, pitting two British families, the Lancasters and the Yorks, against one another.

“The Wars of the Roses are what Games of Thrones is based on, and this is the Wars of the Roses laid out across a 5-meter, visually spectacular document,” said Dr. Jones.

“It features contributions from both the key players in the Wars of the Roses — it was originally drawn up by the Lancastrian side in the conflict but it fell into Yorkist hands and they rewrote part of it,” said Jones.

This month a team of British scholars is working with the University of Canterbury to conduct in-depth testing of the manuscript in the hopes of uncovering hidden writing locked within in, according to the report.

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
Cerith Gardiner
Nightbirde’s beautiful message as she drops out of TV show
Gianmarco Tamberi AND Mutaz Essa Barshim
Cerith Gardiner
This Olympic event captures the true meaning of the Games
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.