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10 myths about Great Britain

Mon 03 Oct 2016

London wasn't always the capital of the UK 

London only became the capital in the 12th century but the first capital of England was Canterbury after which it was Winchester until the 11th century. And until the 1700s Scotland had its own capital, Edinburgh, and Ireland’s capital was Dublin.

Interestingly during World War II the government was moved to Birmingham and the city is referred to as the “second city” because of its importance during the industrial revolution.

It's always foggy in London

Not anymore. Forget the romantic movies from the 1940s and 1950s that you may have seen. Actually the real cause of London's fogs was not the damp weather but air pollution from the millions of households that were burning coal, which filled London's air with smoky soot. In fact before the 1956 Clean Air Act a popular nickname for the city was "The Smoke".

The United Kingdom and England is the same, right?

Wrong, whilst Great Britain maybe a relatively small country its people have very definite views about their cultural identity. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island occupied by four distinct countries - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK was created in 1707 by the Act of Union between England, Wales and Scotland, the name United Kingdom wasn’t adopted until 1801 when Ireland was brought into the union.

Scotland, Wales and Northen Ireland have their own devolved governments and distinct cultures. Wales even has its own language.

The Queen rules England

Afraid not! Whilst the Queen has the powers to appoint some high ranking clergy and to grant some honours – such as knighthoods- in her annual birthday honours list. She has few real powers to govern the country. The elected Prime Minister has the real power.

Robin Hood did not exist

It is unlikely there was a person actually called Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

The more likely truth is that writers of the time romanticised fugitives who flouted the harsh laws that favoured the rich and hunted in the vast areas that the average person was forbidden to enter and robbed from the wealthy.

There is evidence that at the time the legend of Robin hood was born criminals were referred to as Robin Hood as a nickname as Robin rhymed with robbing.

There is an ancient monster in Scotland

The legend of Nessie, the ancient monster that skulks in Loch Ness in Scotland was supposedly first seen in 1933. Personally the GB Mag team don’t believe in Nessie, which is supposed to be from the Lizard family surviving from the Jurassic period…. but if you do go in search of Nessie let us know what you find him, her, it!

Jack the Ripper's identity was covered up

The serial killer known as Jack the Ripper was scarily real and the fact that five London prostitutes were brutally murdered in 1888 is beyond dispute. However the identity of the killer, who was never found, remains a mystery.

A number of conspiracy theories point to famous people ranging from artist Walter Sickert, author Lewis Carroll and musician Michael Maybrick who was a Freemason. And it is suspected that other Freemasons within the police helped him to cover up his crimes.

The other popular theory is that the crimes were committed to cover up a murder committed by a husband who was embarrassed of his wife after she returned to prostitution…..So many theories but no real evidence! Maybe we will never know the true identity of the gruesome killer.

Was there a giant in Cornwall? 

Legend has it St Michael’s Mount was the work of Cornish giant, called Cormoran, who built a fortified home from where he could terrorise the locals living in the nearby village of Marazion. But one night, local lad Jack crept over to the island and dug a hole disguising it with straw. Then as the legend goes Jack woke him and made him angry in a bid to get him to walk towards the hole he’d dug…..Really?!


Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Photo credit VisitEngland/English Heritage/Iain Lewis

Stonehenge, the mystery goes on

There are many conspiracy theories that suggest that Stonehenge is one big hoax that was created simply to attract tourists to Wiltshire. One fact that makes people question the authenticity of Stonehenge is that at least a dozen of the stones have been straightened and re-erected between 1900 and 1960.

Restoration work also took place in the 60’s when some of the crumbling stones were reinforced with concrete. Whilst the restoration work has been documented it is not widely promoted which leads to the conspiracy theory that Stonehenge looks nothing like what it did originally.


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