& Arts TV
defeated the Spanish Armada
the Battle of Britain was a key turning
point in The Hundred Years War
the Romans never invaded Britain
This is a surprising version of British history revealed
in a new survey commissioned by BBC TWO series Battlefield Britain,
presented by Peter and Dan Snow (starting on Friday
6 August at 9.00pm).
The poll posed questions to more than 1,000 people on
several of the battles which feature in the new series - all key turning
points in this country's history.
They answers suggest that, even though the grey cells
may deteriorate over the years, the older generations are far more clued
up on their history than the supposedly sharper 16 to 44 age groups:
They may have given us our calendar, our roads,
the first modern toilet and contributed to our language but one in five
of those surveyed had no idea that the Romans were ever here at all.
One in ten 16 to 24-year-olds actually thought we were conquered by
Despite blanket coverage of the 60th anniversary of D-Day, a third of
those asked - and half of 16 to 34 year olds - didn't know the Battle
of Britain happened during World War II. More than one in ten 16 to
24-year-olds thought it was 600 years ago, when England took on France
in The Hundred Years War.
The question of who won the Battle of Hastings proved to be a
stumbling block for some people too. Just over a quarter of all those
questioned didn't know it was William the Conqueror. This rose to a
third amongst 16 to 34-year-olds. Of the 16 to 24-year-olds, more than
one in five thought it was Alexander the Great and one in eight believed
it to be Napoleon.
Almost half of 16 to 34-year-olds questioned didn't know Sir
Francis Drake fought in the battle against the Spanish Armada, one of
the most famous British sea battles in history. One in five 16 to 24-year-olds
said it was the explorer and discoverer of America, Christopher Columbus.
Horatio Hornblower, the fictional commander in the CS Forester books,
was the answer from one in five 25 to 34 year olds. And Gandalf, the
wizard from The Lord of the Rings, was the choice of more than one in
twenty 16 to 24-year-olds.
The line between fact and fiction became blurred yet again when
it came to the Battle of the Boyne. Nearly half of those surveyed didn't
know it is this battle which is marked by the Orangemen in Northern
Ireland each summer. One in ten 16 to 44-year-olds believed it was the
Battle of Helmsdeep from The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. It seems
that the fictional heroes and battle scenes that feature in Hollywood
blockbusters really stick in people's minds.
Peter Snow, presenter of Battlefield Britain, comments:
"It's at once a shock and a challenge that so many people can be
so wrong about some of the key moments in Britain's past.
"Battlefield Britain can help put this right by
giving viewers some of the most striking and vivid images yet seen of
the violent events that shaped our history."
Notes to Editors
Q1 Which one of the following conquered Britain?
a) Germans; b) Spanish; c) Romans; d) Americans; e) Don't know
Q2 Who won the Battle of Hastings?
a) Napoleon; b) Wellington; c) Alexander the Great; d) William the Conqueror;
e) Don't know
Q3 Which of the following fought men in the English fleet against the
a) Horatio Hornblower; b) Christopher Columbus; c) Francis Drake; d)
Gandalf; e) Don't know
Q4 Which famous battle is marked every year on July 12 by the Orangemen
in Northern Ireland?
a) Boyne; b) Stamford Bridge; c) Bulge; d) Helmsdeep; e) Don't know
Q5 During which war did the Battle of Britain take place?
b) Hundred Years War; b) First World War; c) Second World War; d) Cold
War; e) Don't know
Survey conducted by TNS through a representative sample of 1,006 GB
adults aged 16+. Research was carried out between 11 and 13 June 2004.
Battlefield Britain: Using ground-breaking graphics to re-create the
epic scale of war, father and son team Peter and Dan Snow tell the story
of battles that have shaped the country we live in.
From Boudicca's uprising against the Romans to the Battle
of Britain, the series journeys through two thousand years of invasion,
civil war and rebellion.
Peter reveals how the strategies of the best and worst
commanders determined the fate of the British Isles, whilst Dan gives
the soldiers' perspective of what it must have been like to ride, march,
fly and sail into battle.
Battles featured in the series: Boudicca's Revolt 61AD;
Battle of Hastings 1066; Battle for Wales 1403; Spanish Armada 1588;
Battle of Naseby 1645; The Boyne 1690; Culloden 1746; Battle of Britain
A BBC Book accompanies the series - Battlefield Britain by Peter
and Dan Snow, priced £19.99.
In conjunction with the series, UK heritage organisations from English
Heritage to the National Trust for Scotland are staging special events*
and re-enactments* linked to the battles shown in the programmes.
Visit bbc.co.uk/history for more information about events,
activities and places to visit connected with all the battles in this
series. *Please note, these are not BBC events.
To accompany the Battlefield Britain, Muriel Gray presents
Battlefield Ramblings on BBC Radio 4.
Each week different guests join Muriel to walk in areas
linked to the people and momentous battles featured in the TV series.
Please ensure any data used from this release credits
Battlefield Britain, starting on BBC TWO on Friday 6 August at 9.00pm.