A hammer-wielding man who attempted a smash-and-grab of a Magna Carta has been arrested.
Alarms at Salisbury Cathedral went off just after 5pm on Thursday, after the 45-year-old tried to steal the historical document from its glass box.
Staff were alerted and police were called, Wiltshire police said.
The 803-year-old charter of rights “has not been damaged and nobody was injured in the incident” officers said.
A statement from the cathedral said the Magna Carta has been removed from display “for the time being” and apologised to visitors.
The legal charter was issued by King John in June 1215 and the Salisbury Cathedral copy is one of four original editions.
The man was arrested on suspicion of attempted theft, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage.
He is being held at Melksham police station, where he is being questioned by officers.
Courageous staff wrestled the suspect to the ground after he attempted to flee, the Dean of Salisbury has revealed.
The Rev Canon Nicholas Papadopulos said the man smashed through one of two protective glass screens over the Magna Carta in front of horrified onlookers.
His attempt to breach the casing activated a silent alarm.
Canon Nicholas told the Press Association: “He walked out of the Chapter House and tried to leave the cathedral via our work yard and he was detained there and restrained until the police arrived.
“It was members of our staff, he had been carrying a hammer so our guys were very courageous.
“They were able to restrain him and they held him for 12 minutes.”
Salisbury Cathedral said in a statement: “We can confirm that at the end of the afternoon yesterday, a man attempted to break into the case which houses [the] Magna Carta in the Cathedral’s Chapter House.
“He was arrested by police shortly afterwards and taken into custody. We are very relieved that no one was hurt during the incident and that the Magna Carta itself is undamaged.
“We are very grateful to all who dealt with the situation so swiftly and effectively. We are very sorry that, for the time being, our copy of Magna Carta will not be available to visitors and will have it back on display as soon as we can.”
A statement from police read: “We are aware there were a number of witnesses to the incident who may not have spoken to police. If this was you, please get in touch via 101 and quote crime reference number 541800101438.”