Albion

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This article is about the archaic name for Great Britain. For other meanings, see Albion (disambiguation)
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White_cliffs_of_dover_09_2004.jpg
The white cliffs of Dover
Albion (in Ptolemy Alouion), is the most ancient name of Great Britain, though often used to refer specifically to England. Occasionally it instead refers to only Scotland, whose name in Gaelic is Alba (and similarly, in Irish). Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History (iv.xvi.102) applies it unequivocally to Great Britain, "It was itself named Albion, while all the islands about which we shall soon briefly speak were called the Britanniae." The name Albion was taken by medieval writers from Pliny and Ptolemy.

The name is perhaps of Celtic origin or older, from the Proto-Indo-European root that denotes both "white" and "mountain", but the Romans took it as connected with albus (white), in reference to the chalk "White Cliffs of Dover", and Alfred Holder's Alt-Keltischer Sprachschatz, (1896) unhesitatingly translates it Weissland ("whiteland"). The early writer (6th century BC) whose periplus was translated by Avienus at the end of the 4th century AD (see Massaliote Periplus) does not use the name Britannia; he speaks of nesos 'Iernon kai 'Albionon (island of the Ierni and the Albiones). So Pytheas of Massilia (4th century BC) speaks of Albion and 'Ierne. From the fact that there was a tribe called the Albiones on the north coast of Spain in Asturias, some scholars have placed Albion in that neighbourhood (see G. F. Unger, Rhein. Mus. xxxviii., 1883, pp. 156-196).

Avalon may be simply another spelling of the same name.

The pejorative sobriquet "perfidious Albion" takes its meaning from this old name for England.de:Albion (Name) es:Albin nl:Albion ja:アルビオン pl:Albion (Anglia)

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