Brit's Towering Castle Confusion

18 January 2017

  • We don't know our Hogwarts from our Windsor Castle

  • Millions think centuries-old castles date from the 1900s and were built from corrugated iron with moats to provide drinking water

  • Castles: Britain's Fortified History, Thursday, 8pm, on Yesterday and available to catch-up on UKTV Play

Britain is a nation of castle lovers - but according to new research from the Yesterday channel, our enthusiasm, appreciation and understanding is more likely to be based on fictional castles from the likes of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones than the real thing.

The findings for Castles: Britain's Fortified History, which features on the Yesterday channel on Thursday (8pm), reveal that millions of Brits enjoy visiting castles, and millions more would like to live, party or get married in one.

Castles: Britain's Fortified History on Yesterday

The Yesterday research found that around a quarter (26.2%) of the 2,000 adults polled said they would like to LIVE in a castle, a similar number (22.5%) would like to get married in a castle, two thirds (63.5%) would like to holiday in a castle, and one in three (31.3%) would like to host their own party in a castle.

Yet many think castles which date from the Middle Ages are as little as one hundred years old and were constructed in part from corrugated iron, invented in the 1820s and built with moats to provide drinking water for inhabitants.

However, Castle Grayskull, from 1980s cartoon Masters of the Universe, is better known than Rochester Castle in Kent, whose 12th Century keep or stone tower is one of the best preserved in England or France. And two thirds (65%) thought Castle Black, from TV smash hit Game of Thrones, actually exists.

Meanwhile Hogwarts, the fictional school of magic set in an imposing Scottish castle in the Harry Potter books and films, is more widely recognised than Warwick Castle, which is one of Britain's "Top 10 historic houses and monuments" according to the British Tourist Authority.

Dr Tracy Borman, author, historian and joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, said,

Britain has a rich, vibrant and fascinating range of castles and fortified buildings dating back over 1,000 years, and they have excited, bewitched and enthralled us over the centuries. For most of us, our first understanding and visual interpretation comes as children from books, TV and films, and these often romanticised images stay with us throughout our adult lives. There's clearly a huge fascination with castles for many millions of us, based on both fact and fiction, and finding out and learning more about the subject is something we can all enjoy.

Almost a third of those quizzed (32.5%) believe the Queen's royal residence Windsor Castle was built in the last 300 years - when in fact it was originally constructed around a THOUSAND years ago, in the 11th Century.

While many castles originated in the 9th and 10th centuries, a third of Brits questioned didn't know that castles mainly date from the Middle Ages - classified as from the 5th to the 15th centuries.

Asked how the medieval period received its name, one in 16 claim it's because it was a period when historians believe most people had evil intent, half that number say the medicine of the time involved banishing evil spirits, and one in 28 because 'it was a time when a family called the Medievals ruled Britain'.

And while the generally accepted scholarly definition of a castle is a 'private fortified residence of a lord or noble', the 2,000 adults had varying ideas on what constitutes a castle:

  • Nearly four out of five (38.3%) say it must have turrets
  • One in 10 (10.3%) say a king or queen must have lived there
  • A quarter (24.4%) say it must have a moat, and
  • A similar number (28.1%) say it must be 'over 100 years old'

Adrian Wills, general manager for Yesterday, added,

Castles are such an important and inspiring part of British history, so it's no surprise that they are the setting for many fictional films and TV shows. Castles: Britain's Fortified History will let Yesterday viewers see the truth behind the fascinating impact castles have had on our history and culture, and provide a real insight into why and how our ancestors created such remarkable buildings.

Castles: Britain's Fortified History is shown on the Yesterday channel every Thursday at 8pm, and is available to catch up on UKTV Play.


Research conducted by One Poll, on behalf of Yesterday, January 2017. Sample: 2,000 adults.

For more information please contact:

Howard Bowden (07720 839 852 / or Joe Dyble (07771 825 359 / at Generation
or Katie Sheldrake, Publicist at UKTV

About Yesterday

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Showcasing UK premiere series such as Raiders of the Lost Past, Forbidden History, and UFO Declassified, Yesterday provides fascinating factual stories. The channel also features dynamic nature and science programming including David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities and Why Planes Crash, and programmes which challenge expectations including Secrets of the Bible. Ancient history is also featured in series including Medieval Dead, plus modern conflict in shows such as Black Ops.

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