back to top

21 Maps That Will Change How You Think About Britain

From 5,500BC to how you commute to work today.

Posted on

3. Britain, as the ancient Romans thought it looked.

British Library / Via

Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek scholar who lived in the second century AD, wrote a book describing the world. This is a medieval depiction of the British Isles based on Ptolemy's method, including the strange eastward projection of Scotland.


5. The native tribes of Roman Britain.

"Brittain 410". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons / Via

Their names are in large italics: Iceni, Brigantes, Coritani and so on. The Iceni were Boudicca's tribe, who led a rebellion against the empire.

6. Where Roman coins have been found in Britain.

"All Roman coins 1997 - 2010 (2)" by Portable Antiquities Scheme from London, England - All Roman coins 1997 - 2010Uploaded by Victuallers. Licensed under CC BY http://2.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Via

9. The post-Roman peoples of Britain.

"Britain peoples circa 600" by User:Hel-hama - Vectorization of File:Britain peoples circa 600.png drawn by User:IMeowbotborder data from CIA, people locations from The Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd, 1926 edition, with clarifications supp / Via

10. The bits of Britain ruled by Vikings in the 9th century.

"DanelawEngland" by S. R. Gardiner - A School Atlas Of English History, Longmans, Green. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons / Via

The light blue section is where the Danes – a Germanic tribe, who lived roughly in what is now Denmark, also known as Norsemen and Vikings – ruled Britain from about the 8th century to the 12th. This is when the poem Beowulf was written, by an Anglo-Saxon poet, about a great king of the Danes.


14. All the land that the British Empire held.

"British Empire Anachronous 4". Licensed under CC BY-SA http://3.0 via Wikimedia Commons / Via

Not all at once, we should add. The "first empire", which held large areas of land in North America and the Caribbean, ended with the American revolution in 1776. The "second empire" was built in the 19th century, based on British naval power, and included huge parts of Africa and south-east Asia.

(Note: It also includes, in light pink, the areas which Britain occupied during the Second World War, which most people wouldn't call part of the British Empire. See here for the full breakdown.)

15. These are the countries which British troops have never invaded.

Imgur / Via

According to Stuart Laycock's book All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To, of the 193 countries which are currently UN member states, Britain has at one stage or another invaded 171, or more than 90%. (The definition of "invaded" may be a bit liberal, admittedly.)