A MAJOR new exhibition is set to be launched at Winchester Cathedral.

After almost ten years of planning, Kings and Scribes – The Birth of a Nation, opens on May 21.

It will highlight some of the nation’s greatest treasures and reveal Winchester’s pivotal role in shaping early English history.

Thanks to a grant of £11.2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and donations from other supporters, a new three-level exhibition space has been created in the South Transept to enable all visitors to enjoy, discover and appreciate the cathedral’s history.

Kings and Scribes – The Birth of a Nation will take visitors on a journey through over 1,000 years of history, from the birth of the English nation to the present day.

One of the nation’s greatest treasures, the Winchester Bible, is displayed on the ground floor in A Scribe’s Tale. This magnificent manuscript is the largest and finest of all surviving 12th-century English bibles, renowned for its sheer size, rarity and astonishing artistry.

In the South Transept Triforium, The Birth of a Nation takes visitors on an intriguing journey of discovery to unearth the secrets concealed within the Cathedral’s unique mortuary chests, believed to contain the remains of pre-Conquest kings and bishops.

This enticing exhibition will continue to evolve over time, deepening our knowledge of the founding kings and queens of England.

Visitors will meet influential Anglo-Saxon kings in the city from which they ruled and discover the role of Winchester’s Anglo-Saxon and Norman Cathedrals in the birth of our nation as we know it today.

Decoding the Stones is the second major exhibition in the South Transept Triforium, unlocking the mysteries of the building. It includes important examples of all architectural styles from the Romanesque (Anglo-Norman) through the developed Gothic to Renaissance.

Finally, visitors will be able to explore the realities of monastic life at Winchester Cathedral Priory on the Mezzanine level, with a fascinating rolling programme of displays from the Cathedral archives. The Mezzanine also provides access to the 17th-century Morley Library and its outstanding collection of books, which have remained in their current location for over 400 years.