Stonehenge was built by the Romans (and other great British myths)

30th April 2007
Daily Mail


In these days of cheap jet travel, most Britons are well up on their foreign landmarks.

But to many, their homeland is a closed book.

Almost four in ten think that a bulldog, rather than a lion, symbolises the British nation.

Other common misconceptions are that Stonehenge was built during the Roman Empire, Leeds Castle is in West Yorkshire and Hadrian's Wall is in China.

Eighteen per cent of Britons think the Romans built Stonehenge

A survey of 3,000 adults commissioned by the UKTV History channel provides a fascinating insight into a nation which no longer travels within its own borders.

Almost everyone knew that the Pyramids are in Egypt, Venice is a city navigated by canals, the Great Barrier Reef is found off Australia and the Louvre is in Paris.

By contrast, 39 per cent thought Britain was represented by the bulldog - the most common misconception.

Coming in a close second with 34 per cent was the belief that Leeds Castle is in the city of the same name, when it is in Kent.

Twenty-eight per cent thought the White Cliffs of Dover are made of sandstone, rather than chalk, while 23 per cent consider the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, to have been one of the Seven Wonders of the World, confusing them with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

39 per cent of Britons believe the bulldog is the British national symbol, when it's actually the lion

Meanwhile 21 per cent of us mistake the Pennines for the Pyrenees and believe they can be found between France and Spain.

Knowledge of British history is also revealed to be built on shaky foundations.

Some 18 per cent thought Stonehenge was built during the time of the Romans when in fact it went up between 2500 BC and 2000 BC.

23 per cent of Brits think that the Lost Gardens of Heligan, near Mevagissey in Cornwall, are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, when uit's actually the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Meanwhile, historically significant British landmarks such as Hadrian's Wall are thought by 15 per cent of Brits to be outside of the UK, with 5 per cent of us thinking it can actually be found in China.

Seven per cent think that the Lake District operates along the lines of a theme park and actually charges an entrance fee.

The survey additionally sheds light on how regions differ in their local knowledge. While 95 per cent of Londoners knew that Nelson's Column is in Trafalgar Square, 31 per cent of those in the South West did not realise Stonehenge is pre-Roman.

Misconceptions which failed to make it into the top ten include 4 per cent of Britons who believe that Chequers - the country home of the Prime Minister - is one of the Queen's official residences, and 3 per cent who thought that Scone Palace is a chain of coffee shops found at motorway service stations.

Adrian Wills, head of UKTV History, said: "This research reveals just how little we British actually know about Britain."