DAILY POST COMMENT: 1066 and All That, Is History

Article excerpt

A SURVEY, timed to advertise a new television history series, claims that a third of 16 to 34-year-olds questioned don't know that William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings, one-in-five believing it to have been Alexander the Great.

Almost a quarter of pensioners remain blissfully unaware that the Romans had, a while earlier, conquered Britain, while a third of all age groups think the Battle of Britain happened during some conflict other than World War II -- including 12% who took a stab in the dark at the Hundred Years War, some 600 years before.

Rather delightfully, 15% of 16 to 24-year-olds apparently think the Ulster Orangemen march to celebrate victory at Helmsdeep -- the fictional battle that marked the climax of the second part of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

They might just as well do, for all the relevance the 1690 Battle of the Boyne has to today's Northern Ireland except to perpetuate sectarian prejudice and hatred.

As for destroying the Spanish Armada, you can forget Sir Francis Drake. One-in-seven of 16 to 24-year-olds credit the victory to Horatio Hornblower, CS Forester's fictional hero; a fifth say Christopher Columbus, and 6% Gandalf, the wizard from Tolkien's fantasy novels.

In Tony Blair's Britain of ``education education education'', these results, if true, would offer a fairly damning guide to the way our taxes are being squandered. …