Hereford Cathedral dropped plans Tuesday to sell a unique 13th-Century map regarded as one of Britain’s greatest medieval treasures.
The cathedral provoked protests in November when it said it would auction the Mappa Mundi to avoid bankruptcy, raising fears that other cash-strapped British institutions might also sell their treasures to balance the books.
Critics were concerned that Britain would lose part of its medieval heritage if the map was sold to a foreign bidder.
Cathedral officials said Tuesday that Hereford was working out a deal to save the map and was confident that the sale, scheduled to be held at Sotheby’s auction house in June, would not go ahead.
The Mappa Mundi, drawn on a single piece of vellum 64 by 54 inches and covered in gold leaf, depicts a circular world with Jerusalem at its center, the Garden of Eden at the top and Britain at the edge.
Church official Leonard Moss said the cathedral is still negotiating to raise $12.2 million to clear its debts and carry out repairs and new building work.