The National Archives looks after the UK government’s documents. It holds records dating back nearly 1,000 years from the time of William the Conqueror’s Domesday Book to the present day. Some very famous documents created by some of the most important and significant people in the past are kept here, including Shakespeare’s will, Guy Fawkes’ signed confession and the 1225 version of Magna Carta. The range of documents includes letters, reports, newspapers, photographs, maps, posters and even a mummified rat.
We hold approximately 11 million documents kept on about 100 miles of shelving. This shelving grows by at least a mile each year, as more and more documents are handed over to the archives by various government departments. In recent years, we have started to keep some of our documents in deep salt mines in Cheshire, in an attempt to save space at Kew.