The Origins of Counties – England

The traditional counties of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are 92 historic subdivisions of the United Kingdom. They are also known as the historic counties, or legally as the ancient or geographic counties.

The 92 historic counties are an indelible part of the history, heritage, geography and culture of the United Kingdom.

The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Anglo-Saxons and others.

In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties also helped define local culture and identity.

The division of England into shires began in Wessex in the mid-Saxon period. With the Wessex conquest of Mercia in the 9th and 10th centuries, the system was extended to central England.

At the time of the Domesday Book, northern England comprised Cheshire and Yorkshire. The remaining counties of the North were established in the 12th century. Rutland appears in the Domesday Book, but is first recorded as a county in 1159.

The Thirty-Nine Historic Counties of England

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