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Primary Sources: United Kingdom (U.K.): Terminology

England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales

United Kingdom (U.K.):

  • Short for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Includes: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
  • 1801-1922 included all of Ireland
  • Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann are not part of the U.K., but are crown dependencies

Great Britain:

  • Includes: England, Scotland, Wales and associated islands
  • Should not be used when discussing Ireland/Northern Ireland

British Isles:

  • Includes: Islands situated off the north western corner of mainland Europe. It is made up of Great Britain, Ireland, The Isle of Man, The Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands (including Guernsey, Jersey, Sark and Alderney), as well as over 6,000 other smaller islands.
  • It is a geographic term and does not hold any political meaning


  • It is the largest country in the U.K.
  • Often mistakenly used to refer to the U.K. or Great Britain as a whole

Ireland (Éire in Irish):

  • Is an island composed of two political entities
  • Is the official name of the Republic of Ireland (predominantly Catholic)
  • Northern Ireland (predominantly Protestant) Is not part of the Republic of Ireland; it is part of the United Kingdom

Roman Britain (a.k.a. Britannia):

  • Made up mostly of the area that is today called Great Britain
  • Ruled by the Romans from circa 43-410 C.E.


  • After the end of Roman Rule (mid 4th century), Germanic groups, known as the Anglo-Saxons (Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians) became the dominant rulers in the area

Danes and Normans:

  • In the 10th century there were various times the area was invaded and ruled by various groups until 1066 and the Norman Invasion


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