Counties of Great Britain, the way it was

The Counties of Great Britain are geographical places, most of those of England pre date the Norman conquest. The 13 Counties of Wales were fixed by Statute in 1535 and most of those of Scotland are about the same age.

They provide an instant means of reference to different parts of the country, showing a set of cities and towns. They show distinctive scenery and architecture, can be referenced for information on a particular industry.

Counties give their names to clubs, football and rugby teams, but mostly they are places were we live and work from, a place we call home. There are 86 Counties in Great Britain, these pages will tell you a little about the county and the cities within its boundary.

In Great Britain today, the term county is synonymous with shire. Historically, however, the two words have different origins. In medieval times, a county was the realm of a lord (or, in many other countries, a count). A county palatine was a county in which the lord held particular rights in lieu of the monarch, for example the right to pardon those guilty of treason or murder.

Shires were formed in Anglo-Saxon times for the purpose of raising taxes. These had fortified strongholds at their centres which became the shire or county towns of today. Today's counties are a combination of historic shires and counties and have been subject to many boundary changes over the course of history.

Counties England Wales Scotland