Carrickfergus Castle holds the key to understanding the “tempestuous relationship between Britain and Ireland”.
That was the claim made by Channel 5 series ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’, which concluded on Friday of last week with a visit by historian Dan Jones to the medieval stronghold.
Dan discovered how the castle was built a century after the Norman Invasion of England by an ambitious Somerset knight who had set his sights on the north of Ireland.
And he revealed just what the invaders thought of the native Irish in the 12th Century with a quote from a contemporary chronicler: “They are a wild and inhospitable people. They live on beasts only and live like beasts.”
The award-winning presenter travelled to Rathlin Island, where he revealed how “hundreds of women and children were ruthlessly massacred in the name of Elizabeth I”.
He also visited the tomb of former Governor of Carrickfergus, Sir Arthur Chichester, who was instrumental in the Ulster Plantation and, according to the programme-makers, laid waste to much of the land surrounding the town through scorched earth tactics.
Secrets of Great British Castles was a co-production between Sideline Productions and Group M Entertainment for Channel 5.