Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The history books really do need re-writing!

I just read my daughter's history book. She's starting secondary school later this month. Under the section about ancient Ireland, I was interested to read about Newgrange. There are no less than two factual errors in the first sentence. First of all, Newgrange is NOT 4,500 years old, as claimed. A cursory web search will reveal that it is, in fact, over 5,000 years old. The second statement is that Newgrange is the "oldest bulding in Europe". What utter nonsense. In fact, its sisters, Knowth and Dowth, are older. But there are far older structures than Newgrange in Europe.

What's most annoying about this is the fact that this is not advanced or specialist knowledge. Admittedly, I have a long-standing interest in Newgrange and know a lot about it. However, you don't need a doctorate to know that Newgrange is over 5,000 years old. Where did the author of this book get this figure of 4,500 years from? And upon what research does he base his claim that it is the oldest building in Europe? If this is what we are teaching our children, and our young adults, about the history of our own country, and we get it wrong, what else are we teaching them that is either factually incorrect or totally incongruous?

I just Googled the question "How old is Newgrange?" and the first result tells me that it was built in 3200BC.

Looks like some of these school books need to be re-written . . .

1 comment:

  1. We have similar problems with secondary school history books here. Ours are written by "education specialists" whose grasp of history leaves a lot to be desired. One of my elder daughter's books said "The first settlers in indiana were the Shellmound Indians," which was off by at least 7000 years.