Canterbury Roll
Canterbury Roll Screengrab from YouTube

A team of scientists is trying to decipher the 15th-century Canterbury manuscript, which gives details about the War of the Roses. The series of wars are very significant in English history, on which the HBO hit show Game of Thrones is based.

The 600-year-old relic is an English manuscript that is the sole genealogical scroll in the southern hemisphere. It is currently kept in New Zealand, where the scientists are headed as they believe many secrets in the writing are yet to be revealed.

UC Senior Lecturer Dr. Chris Jones says that the Canterbury Roll is the most valuable medieval document in the country, which UC has been preserving for 100 years. The scroll delineates the history of England from its mythical beginning to the late Middle Ages, as reported by news.com.au.

Canterbury Roll
Canterbury Roll Screengrab from YouTube

"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," says Jones.

The medieval document depicts the Wars of the Roses, a series of battles fought between eminent houses in England for the country's thrones. Sounds familiar? Well, you must be thinking about a bunch of powerful houses fighting for the thrones of Westeros.

Wars of the Roses
Wars of the Roses Wikimedia Commons

The Wars of the Roses continued for more than three centuries and was chiefly fought between the houses of Lancaster and York. It is believed that George R R Martin created the Lannister and Stark houses in the universe of his novels 'A Song of Ice and Fire' after being inspired by this historical conflict. Another popular assumption is that Martin wrote many of his characters based on key persons in the history of England.

According to Jones, the Canterbury Roll is a 5-metre, visually spectacular depiction of the greatest civil wars in Medieval England. Originally written by the Lancaster sympathizers, it later fell into the hands of York supporters, which reflects in some parts of the writing.

Game of Thrones
A scene from Game of Thrones YouTube

The scientists believe that the text that has inspired one of the biggest contemporary TV shows is hiding many more secrets, which can be unlocked by further study. The British research team is soon visiting the university in Christchurch to carry out tests on the Roll for hidden writings or images.

The Canterbury Roll Project, comprising of UC staff and students, are working tirelessly to translate and digitize the document for better preservation. It will be made accessible to the public in 2018, but stage one of the digital restoration is available presently on the university's website.