Residents believed in Harry Potter style magic

An ancient Peterborough Cathedral manuscript has revealed city residents believed in a Harry Potter-style resurrection stone allowing them to talk to the dead.

Monday, 31st October 2016, 11:30 am
The manuscript

The 500 year old document has been translated by Dr Francis Young, and revealed people living in the city believed stones and runes had the power to deal with everything from flatulence to witchcraft.

The translation has now been turned into a book.

Dr Young, who lives in Peterborough, said: “I was interested in the old manuscripts in the Cathedral Library, and I had a rough idea what it said. It took a year to translate - reading the handwriting is challenging - it is gothic script - and then turning it into something readable is difficult. There are other similar documents, but this one is eight times longer than normal.”

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The manuscript still belongs to the cathedral, but is kept by The University of Cambridge.

Stuart Orme, Head of Operations at the cathedral, said: “There’s a 14th century document in Peterborough Museum’s collections which also has recipes for magical items, including one for an Invisibility Cloak. Both that and some of the properties of the stones described in this translation both seem like something from Harry Potter.”

A Medieval Book of Magical Stones: The Peterborough Lapidary, edited and translated by Francis Young and published by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Peterborough Cathedral, can be ordered online from or, priced £19.99.