English around the world: that’s Barney Castle

In diesem Beitrag aus unserer Rubrik „English around the world“ stellen wir heute eine Redewendung aus Großbritannien vor, die unter aktuellen Umständen wieder populär geworden ist.

By Carol Richards

“That’s Barney Castle”


This refers to Barnard Castle and is a 16th-century idiom that is becoming popular again because of Dominic Cummings, a conservative politician and advisor to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The idiom describes an excuse that is pathetic or silly. It originated in Barnard Castle, a town in County Durham, UK, which has a medieval castle of the same name.

Despite the UK being in lockdown, Cummings drove 400 km from London to Durham. While in Durham, he allegedly drove almost 50 km to  Barnard Castle, and the reason he gave was that he wanted to test his eyesight, which may have been affected by the coronavirus, before driving back to London. Many people have noted the brilliant irony of his drive: he was testing his eyesight, which might have been impaired by the coronavirus, by driving to the tourist destination of Barnard Castle during lockdown.