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Off topic trolling removed .. dave souza, talk 08:39, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Is there a notable or iconic painting which depicts Brittania? The article's analogy to Marianne seems apt, but I think of only statues of Brittania, and I'm wondering if there's anything like the painting of "Libertie Leading the People" by Delacroix. Petershank 21:05, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

I've added a couple. Fosnez 00:19, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Uncle Sam propaganda poster[edit]

I removed the image of Britannia and Uncle Sam holding arms, because A) its not revelent and representative of just Britannia, B) its a piece of political propaganda. - Yorkshirian (talk) 20:26, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, if we are talking propaganda neither is the postage mark of Britannia with 'Irish Free State' stamped on it; as it is irrelevant and non-representative, just more Irish propaganda which has no place here it so I'll remove that too.Twobells (talk) 19:19, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Surely it's relevent as an example of how Britannia has been used in propaganda/politics? --Kurtle (talk) 15:54, 31 January 2011 (UTC)


Why isnt there a seperate page on the godess Britannia? --Camaeron (talk) 19:27, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

Yeah, the godess is linked to this page, which is a bit odd. Wasn't there a Brigantia godess, not a Britannia? ---G.T.N. (talk) 21:12, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

"The island was first invaded by Julius Caesar in 55 BC" is inaccurate as Julius Caesar landed in 55BC but only explored very briefly and in no way could his short stay be called an invasion. Marc —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:06, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

I have serious doubts about the "goddess" part. It rests entirely on the claim found on a webpage at that Hadrian erected a shrine to Britannia at York. Even if substantiated, this would hardly make here a "Celtic" goddess but rather part of Roman imperial religion. dab (𒁳) 10:21, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:50PREVISEDBRITANNIA.jpg[edit]

The image File:50PREVISEDBRITANNIA.jpg is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

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This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --03:48, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

Opening sentence - incorrect interpretation of dubious source?[edit]

The opening sentence of the article currently reads: "Britannia was the term originally used by the Romans to refer to the British Isles.", with a reference to p.29 of a book, The British Chronicles by David Hughes (2007).

Several points arise from this. Firstly, the reference itself does not state that Britannia was the term used by the Romans to refer to the British Isles. Instead, it states that the Picts, or Pretanni, "gave the British Isles their name, "Pretannia", whence the Latin "Britannia". This does not make the claim stated in this article, that the Romans gave the name Britannia to the "British Isles" - rather, it asserts that the name stems from a Pictish name which applied to the islands (although that claim itself does not appear to be referenced in the book). Other sources elsewhere suggest that the Roman name Britannia applied to the island of (Great) Britain, with Hibernia being used for Ireland (which was outside the Roman empire); and that the Roman collective term for the isles was not Britannia but Insulae Britannicae, which can be translated alternatively as "Britannic islands", "Britannic isles", "British islands", or "British isles".

Secondly, the question arises as to whether the book itself is a reliable source. I have not (yet) read it, but it is available online - here. It purports to set out, in great detail, the genealogical linkages between various royal lines within these islands and outside. I have not seen any peer reviews of it (it seems to have been published by a small publisher), and I'd be interested in any comments from professional historians and archaeologists on its contents. These will hopefully avert any suspicions that the book may largely consist of fringe theories based on placing undue weight on inappropriate sources. If not, articles which reference the source - such as Kings of Dumnonia and House of Aberffraw - may need to be treated with some caution. Editors may be interested in a list of David Hughes' other published genealogical works, here.

I'd be interested in any comments, before amending this article.

Ghmyrtle (talk) 22:56, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

I only needed to read the title of the opening chapter and the first few sentences, viz.: "The Iron Age High-Kings of Celtic Britain were called 'Brehins'. The 'Brehin' was the overlord of all the British tribal chiefs and/or British regional kings. The word 'bren(h)in' is an abbreviation of the Celtic words meaning 'King of Britain'." Laugh? I nearly cried! Rest assured this is pure bulls**t: the etymology alone is quite simply false, not to mention unique. Completely unreliable. Enaidmawr (talk) 23:32, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
That's a nice opinion. Do any published sources share it?
Talking of which, the sources are not entirely consistent those I have provided here suggest that Pytheas came up with the Greek "pretanike" or "pretanic" isles for all the islands (they think based on the Celtic name). This changed to the Latin Britannia over time and later explorers, including Caesar, then identified Ierne/Hibernia and Albionon/Albionum separately before beginning to distinguish different parts of (Great) Britannia according to whether they'd conquered it or not. This is a similar point to the one being made (admittedly very badly) on the British Isles talk page by User:ArmchairVexillologistDonLives!. Modern usage may have come about during the Tudor period, but the term is much older, however much certain parties would seem to like to hide it.
On a separate note I would caution over-enthusiatic editors from reverting sourced material on the basis of perceived POV-pushing on either side of the debate. Wiki-Ed (talk) 00:41, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
"That's a nice opinion. Do any published sources share it?"
Yes, Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (University of Wales Dictionary) for the etymology of brenin (vol. I, pp. 319-30) and any decent book on Iron Age/Roman Britain for the rest. Pure hokum and amateur, unsustantiated, opinion as confirmed below. So I'll take "nice opinion" as a compliment! Enaidmawr (talk) 21:38, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Not all sources are reliable sources, of course. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:24, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Wiki-Ed, in this case there is clear concerns about use of British Isles there and it was only added by 1 IP a couple of weeks ago with no explanation. I think it is important we restore it to the previously stable wording which talked of the Island of Great Britain (which was in the intro for over a year). If you can provide sources (which we can actually see, i dont have those books) where it talks of the British Isles then it should be changed to it.. but island of Great Britain is certainly more accurate in this case. BritishWatcher (talk) 09:26, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
This isn't the first time that you've put forward an argument that "stability" means the article is correct. It doesn't mean this at all. And "IP editors" are not the same as vandals. The sources I have provided state that British Isles is more accurate in this case. It is incumbent on you to find and read those sources and find and post peer reviews which cast aspersions on those sources reliability. (For the record having seen the other books produced by the first reference I would tend to agree with Ghymrtle that he might not be the best source to pin an argument on.)
I would suggest you'd be wasting your time trying to denigrate the Davies book - it is a highly rated bestseller.[1] Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:07, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Not one of the three sources cited by Wiki-Ed even claims that the term Britannia was applied to the islands collectively. I'll revise the intro accordingly. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:06, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

For simplicity's sake, the Hughes source (pg29) says:

  • The Picts, so-called by the Romans, called the "Cruithni" by the Irish Gaels, from the Q-Celtic dialect, which may be translated into the P-Celtic dialect as "Pretani", gave the British Isles their name, "Pretannia", whence the Latin "Britanni".

The Collingwood source (pg 31) says:

  • But the country which ever since he invaded it has been known as Britain – Britannia, the land of the Britannia – was not known by that name to earlier explorers. Although manuscript readings are discrepant, no doubt through a tendency to replace the earlier name by the better-known later, they contain evidence from the fourth century before Christ, when Britain was visited as described by the Greek traveller Pytheas, the British Isles were called by many geographers, Diodorus, Siculus, Strabo, Ptolemy and others, the Pretanic Isles.

Davies The Isles page 47:

  • Nonetheless, at least one Greek sailor, Pytheas of Massilia, sailed through the cordon in the fourth century and left a record of his journey. The names which he noted are clearly Celtic in character - Pretanike for the Isles as a whole, Ierne for the smaller, western isle, and Nesos Albionon for the larger eastern isle. That would be decisive except for the fact that the original account by Pytheas was lost and has only survived in fragments of a much later date. There is immense scope for scholars to question the reliability of the sources, and to speculate about the variants, the connotations, and the transformations of the terms involved. Nonetheless, though the details are debatable, the main derivations look pretty solid. The Greek Ierne, which appeared at a later stage as the Latin Hibernia, is clearly the classical transcription of a Celtic name, an ancestor of the modern Irish Eire or Erin. Rufus Avienus writes of it as 'the Sacred Isle' inhabited by the tribe of Hierni. The Greek Albionon, in contrast, became the Latin Albionum. Whether one accepts the Roman or Celtic etymology, it seems more likely that the name of Albion, which has lasted till modern times, was inspired by those magnificent white cliffs which greet every visitor to the island. As for Pretanike, which change in Latin to Britannia, it is clearly cognate with the Welsh Prydain, and at one stage further removed with the modern English Britain.

I'm not quite sure why you're reading the evolution of the term differently to the way these sources are saying. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:40, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes - but none of those say that the term Britannia applied to the islands collectively. They just don't say that - you are misreading them. "Pretanni" may have led to the name "Britannia", but the sources do not suggest that the word Britannia applied to more than one island. Ghmyrtle (talk) 10:48, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
No, they equate (a) British Isles with (b) Pretannia with (c) Britannia. You are the one dissimilating them. Though there might be a case for arguing that by the time the Romans had come along and were using "Britannia" they had refined the term to apply only to Great Britain, these sources do not say that. This discrepancy is explained in the second quote. Wiki-Ed (talk) 11:27, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
No, they are not "equating" them - they are saying that one term derives from another. Important difference. For example, the name "Romania" derives from the Romans who came from Rome - it doesn't mean that Romania equates to the "Roman empire", or that it includes Rome... Ghmyrtle (talk) 11:35, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
That's an anachronistic assumption based on later usage. However, since it's easy enough to prove I propose the following compromise:
Britannia was the term originally used by the Romans to refer to the Roman province covering much of the island of Great Britain. The area beyond the Antonine Wall belonging to the Picts in the north was known as Caledonia. The name itself derives from "Pretannia", Diodorus's rendering of the indigenous name for the Pretani people whom the Greeks believed to inhabit the British Isles. (Expand to three refs and cut Hughes out entirely)
This would explain the etymology clearly, removing the inference that it was the original term (it was not), and connecting the missing dots (the Cruthin lived in what is now Ireland (and possibly Man) so it is not otherwise apparent why their name became associated with Great Britain rather than Ireland). Wiki-Ed (talk) 13:26, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Looks OK to me. Ghmyrtle (talk) 13:31, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Good compromise, ill remove the tag as this seems to be resolved now. Just one point, the intro now says it was originally used by the romans to describe the province but in the Roman period section of the text it says it was used for the whole of the island of Albion and then just the province they controlled. Does this not contradict saying "originally used" for the province in the intro? BritishWatcher (talk) 14:08, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I'm assuming that Wiki-Ed will make the changes above, including deleting "originally". The question of whether the name was applied to the island, or only the southern part of the island, will need to be looked at further. (Hmm, why does that statement remind me of somewhere else close by.....?) Ghmyrtle (talk) 14:15, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent)Changes made. However, User:Britishwatcher is correct in highlighting the discrepancy between the sourced intro and the first paragraph. I might come back to this with the Davies source laterWiki-Ed (talk) 16:11, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Again, just observing and trying to understand whats going on a bit better before getting involved - looks like emotions run high. It seems to me that the original edit to include British Isles has been debunked and found to be wrong. This is in the context of, and despite, the very loud protests by some editors about a campaign to remove the term, etc, etc. So why is it that the article now includes the term in another form? Could this be a case of trying to get British Isles into the article at any cost? Justification in hindsight? --Qaziphone (talk) 04:19, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Great Britain should not of been replaced by that IP and even i undid that change after it became clear it was incorrect. The fact remains however that an editor tried to remove British Isles because it wasnt "neutral enough", replacing it with something just as incorrect. So there was still no justification for that. As for the fact that it remains in the info now, i dont have a problem with it being removed, but if the sources back up what it now says there isnt a clear problem anymore.BritishWatcher (talk) 05:31, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
Its good that the error was spotted but it was bad that in trying to fix the error, an editor was vilified with some editors started claiming an removal-of-British-Isles campaign. Overall, while its good that the error was fixed quickly, relying on good verifiable sources for the references, I believe that there is an aura of "Thou Shalt Not" hanging over British Isles. But I applaud your very level-headed and what appears to be a common-sense approach on the issue. Hopefully you and other editors like you can form a backbone of sensible consensus. Qaziphone (talk) 06:54, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
User:Dublin1994 was banned for edit warring. Most of the other visitors to this page in the last few days have similar blocks or warnings. It's not a huge leap of the imagination to presume that most have an agenda that they push too strongly. Conversely the IP edits were all valid and it is also perhaps notable that the two editors involved in a discussion of the sources are the two who don't have block/warning histories. Moving on to your second point, while I still disagree with User:Ghymyrtle's interpretation of the sources I provided (insofar as a term derived from another term must have, at some point, been understood to be the same as the original), the compromise edit is easy to source. "Britannia" came from "Pretannia"; the "Pretanike Isles" refers to the "British Isles". That's why it's mentioned. In future, perhaps you could post your comments in the "sub-topic" section below, which is where editors can fling bad-faith accusations around without disrupting our discussion of the source material. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:44, 20 June 2009 (UTC)
You accuse me of flinging bad-faith accusations around and disrupting *your* discussion in the same post as stating "it's not a huge leap of the imagination to presume that most have an agenda". Either you are being ironic and trying to be funny or its a transparent tactic to avoid the discussion. Methinks my "Thos Shalt Not" comment has struck a nerve....
What youve called a compromise edit between two editors, it's still obvious to a neutral observer like me that there is still a high degree of preservation of the term at work here, not to mention that it is wrong. Ive looked at a number sources and references and Im seeing differences. Websters doesn't link Pretanic with Britannia at all. But one of your references, Roman Britain and the English Settlements page 31 states that Caesar used the term in error, mixing up the names of different tribes. I suggest that a new paragraph called Emtymology is created and expanded to include a better description. Qaziphone (talk) 17:12, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
The etymology of the term has its own article here, which is linked to from within this article. Perhaps you should read that and refer to some of the many secondary sources rather than a tertiary source who's primary definition of "Britannia" is A white-metal alloy of tin, antimony, bismuth, copper, etc. Also, perhaps you could explain the difference between your self-proclaimed status as a "neutral observer" and your edit history [2]? Wiki-Ed (talk) 18:34, 21 June 2009 (UTC)
Perhaps you should stop being such a prickly defensive manner and look objectively at whats being said. And sure, take a close look at my contributions. I note that you reverted Reading education in the USA - do you even care if an article is accurate or not? You still obviously invoking "Thou Shalt Not" on British Isles? Jeez Louise, I can understand now why some editors get hounded away. You obviously haven't a clue as to the history of the English language. Don't be such a fuckwit and take a little care next time, and even the references which you put back in with the misleading comment that the article is sourced doesn't say what was in the article. I've reverted your kneejerk reaction and I'll put some proper references in just on the off chance that you feel the need to educate yourself.
As to this article, your secondary sources don't state that Britannia evolved from Pretanni, so youre just making stuff up. I notice you didnt bother to read page 31 properly at all or respond. And if you read the nice section you pointed me to, it states that Tertiary sources such as compendia, encyclopedias, textbooks, and other summarizing sources may be used to give overviews or summaries, but should not be used in place of secondary sources for detailed discussion., so whats your point?
Back to page 31. I'm going with Ghmyrtle on this and Ill create a proper emtymology section. Qaziphone (talk) 00:09, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

I probably shouldn't dignify your abusive post with a response, particularly since I've reported it, but the point is that you need to educate yourself in how Wikipedia works:

Abusive? Quit being so sensitive, and I'll remind you that you were the one that starting being uncivil in the first place with your accusations of flinging bad-faith accusations around. If you cant take it, dont try to dish it out in the first place. BTW, where did you report it, or is there a secret club from offended British editors to report stuff which is a different place than mere mortal editors? And I laugh as you obviously need to educate yourself too. Since you kindly pointed me to the section on how to use reliable secondary in preference to primary or tertiary sources, why are you now pointing me to another Wikipedia article? Either way, you just don't seem to have an answer for the fact that page 31 proves youre just making stuff up. Britannia did not evolve from Pretannia. So either put up or shut up. Qaziphone (talk) 00:52, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
My point was not that the word "Britannia" did not evolve from "Pretani" - it probably did. However, that does not necessarily mean that Britannia always had exactly the same meaning as the earlier word Pretani - there is no evidence that it did. Ghmyrtle (talk) 09:20, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
OK, I understand your point. Did you get a chance to read the page 31 reference above? It ssays that they didnt evolve one from the other. Thanks. Qaziphone (talk) 14:55, 22 June 2009 (UTC)
Hi @Ghmyrtle, did you get a chance to read Roman Britain and the English Settlements page 31? At present the article equates "Britannia" with "Pretani" and says one evolved from the other. This book says that the Pretani were one tribe and tht Caesar mixed up the name for another Belgian tribe. This shows that Britannia did not evolve from Pretani. Qaziphone (talk) 15:36, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I did read it. An interesting theory, but as the book dates from 1937 and the theory conflicts with references elsewhere, my assumption was, and is, that it has been discredited and can be discounted. Just because a theory exists, and is referenced, it isn't necessarily "true". More importantly for WP, if it's a minority fringe theory, as this appears to be, it should not be given any weight here. Most sources derive "Britanni" from "Pretani". Ghmyrtle (talk) 17:25, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree that it is conjecture, although I haven't read anything that refutes this or calls it a fringe theory - it actually springs from the writings by Julius Caesar himself. Britain was a haven for troublesome Gaulish leaders as the coast of Britain was settled by tribes from Gaul, and were in the habit of sending help to his enemies in Gaul. He wanted to break the Belgae and knew that making Brittania a province of Rome would greatly help to accomplish that. He was aware that the Belgae tribes identified themselves from the areas they came from and the areas they lived in. The appearence of the term "Brittania" is sudden and appears in the writings of Caesar. It would be better to state that Caesar substituted Britannia for Pretania as saying it "evolved" implies it occured over a period of time. Qaziphone (talk) 06:04, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I think that would fall into WP:OR. Ghmyrtle (talk) 07:54, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Hi. Interesting discussion. @Ghmyrtle, is there anywhere that you can find that discredits this book or the theory? It's very well referenced in other books and appears to be accepted. Just a quick search on Google Books for more sources (some fairly modern) turns up a number of other sources that make much the same claim. These references are readable at Google Books: Who Were The Celts by Kevin Duffy, Page 5, The Ancient World by John Dougan. Page 30, Proceedings of the Philological Society By Louis Loewe (makes the point that about tribes retaining names and talks about the Britanni tribe) and The Rise of the Celts by Henri Hubert . Other sources are not readable on Google Books, although this search shows a number of books that back up the statement about Caesar being largely responsible for naming the island as Britannia. So it Caesar is responsible for the name Britannia it's clear that it didn't "evolve" from the name Pretani. The last reference from Louis Loewe is pretty good. I haven't done exhaustive study into this topic but based on 15 minutes searching, there seems to be a lot of stuff available, and it doesn't appear to be either a fringe theory or Original Research. --HighKing (talk) 23:27, 29 June 2009 (UTC)
Ghmyrtle – I think you mean synthesis, not OR.
Highking - the sources you’ve cited either don’t agree or are somewhat archaic. Your first reference says "Caesar wrote the word Pritani as Britanni or Britannia"; your second reference says "Pretanic Islands would become Britannia"; your third reference dates from 1854; your fourth reference dates from 1934. Meanwhile, up above, we have an excerpt from "The Isles" (published in 2000) which accounts for the variable interpretations and says "As for Pretanike, which changed in Latin to Britannia, it is clearly cognate with the Welsh Prydain, and at one stage further removed with the modern English Britain." Note how none of them say Caesar invented the name off the top of his head, but all of them make a link to the name used by Pytheas. Wiki-Ed (talk) 10:12, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Well, selective reading of references might make it look like that. I wouldn't accuse your response of being downright dishonest, as it's easy to pick single sentences, out of context, and make claims to something different, but I am surprised at the response and the method of bolding single words in an attempt to provide an interpretation. And in one case, a misquote with bolding, to give a difference interpretation. It's important to read and understand the whole of what is being said, and I hope other editors take the time to look fully at the references (and feel free, as all good editors should, to look for some yourself. I dug these up by searchin Google Books in 15 minutes). For example, looking at the relevant full paragraph in the First reference, it states: In about 324 B.C. (two centuries after the Massiliote Periplus voyage), the Greek traveller, Pytheas, referred to Ireland and Britain and the Pretanic Islands, with the Celtic inhabitants he met there being called Pretani or Preteni. A corruption of Pritania was to become the name for Britain alone. Three hundred years later, Caesar wrote the word Pritani as Britanni or Britannia. Although thus corrupted, the Celtic name was appropriate, for Britain, like Ireland, would continue to be a Celtic island for centuries. The full sentence in the 2nd reference states With the arrival of the Romans, Pretanic Islands became Britannia. There's nothing wrong with older references in this case unless, as I've previously requested, you can show that a new theory or new scholarly evidence actually conflicts with it, in which case it might be deemed to be out of date. The 3rd reference goes into some detail and quotes directly from Caesar's writings. It provides a general background to the origins of many of the tribes, and lists 50 tribes (including Britanni) that were members of the great Belgian confederation and states that Casear states that the immigrant tribes in Britain retained the names by which they were known in their native country. In the scanty history of those times which has come down to us, we might reasonably expect to discover some traces of this identity of name. Such traces are actually found. But the book does not claim that Caesar's use of the term Britanni for Britain is related to the tribe. The 4th reference states Britanni was not a national name, but a geographical designation given to the inhabitants of South Britain, first by the Gauls, and then by the Romans. But there appears to be loads of references - for example The Celts by Liam S Gogan, page 26 states this latter name comes from a Latin mispronunciation which gave rise to Britannia, and Britanni, as used by Caesar. Or a 2007 book The British Chronicles by David Hughes] states The greatest confusion in the early history of the British Isles has been the wrongful acceptance that the name Pretani or Pritani (The Picts) is the same as Britanni or Brittones (the Brigantes), who were an entirely different people. All in all, there appears to be a lot of referencable material that points to the Romans deciding to call the island Britannia, and not an evolution from Pretannic as this article states. --HighKing (talk) 11:43, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Everyone reads selectively. In this case I'm not sure how you're reading (the above sources) because I'm certainly not interpreting the same text the same way. The way I read it, the sources are stuck in a position we as Wikipedia editors often find ourselves. They have no reliable sources to confirm what happened, so they are hypothesising. The only one who states definitely that there is no link or evolution is the Hughes chap who has been discredited as a reliable source in the section below. The rest all posit some sort of link and it would be wrong for us to present this differently. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:35, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Fine, we can ignore Hughes. I'm not an expert. But one thing that is coming through is that the article should not be claiming that Britannia evolved or was derived from Pretani. If, as you say, the sources are hypothesising, then let's either include all the possible sources, or none. --HighKing (talk) 12:59, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
My opinion is that the authors are being speculative (based on the language used and the confused state of this article). However, most of them do seem to see a link. If there is another theory, and I'm really not clear on exactly what that is despite reading the references you've posted, then we can mention that in proportion to its weight. Wiki-Ed (talk) 14:52, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
According to it's weight - great. How can we do that? Will you produce references that say that the term derived from Pretannia? I've already produced a good lot of references that show that the Romans essentially coined the word, and a little more that shows discusses the likely emtymology of the word. I'm still waiting for references from Ghmyrtle or others that discredit the book or the theory he called "fringe" above. Perhaps after that we can get a better idea. From my own brief searching, I can't find a whole lot that supports the current article stating Britannia derives from Pretannia, but perhaps I ain't looking in the right places. --HighKing (talk) 11:45, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
The first three two references support the sentence. Two One of them are available on Google Books, the other, The Isles: A History is not, but I have reproduced the text up above. It pains me to have to use Davies, because I oppose the premise of his work, however, by including this link he does not strengthen his pro-devolution/republican/faux-nationalism argument, which I think says something for the indisputable nature of that link. To balance Davies (the weight issue) you'd need to an find equally modern, reliable and critically reviewed source, or alternatively a preponderance of other sources which clearly posit an alternative theory. It's also important to avoid synthesising; A source saying Caesar coined the term Britannia does not mean he named it without knowledge of the Greek name for the same land. Wiki-Ed (talk) 13:02, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

(outdent)Let's first of all look at what the article states, and the references you've pointed out.

The Allen reference talks about how the term Pretani was more likely to be a nickname given them by outsiders, probably the continental celts rather than a term used by the natives, and how it may be compared with the word Picti, and how it may by survived in Welsh as the name for Britain, as well as the Roman Britannia and the modern Britain. This is all stated in a single sentence, with no explanation of how Britannia is related to Pritani. It doesn't state that Britannia evolved from Pritani. It also does not disagree with how "Britani" was the name of a Belgae tribe that settled the coast of England...
Thank you for reproducing the Davies reference above. Again, it appears in one sentence to state As for Pretanike, which change in Latin to Britannia, it is clearly cognate with the Welsh Prydain, and at one stage further removed with the modern English Britain. with no explanation or theory underpinning it. It doesn't state that Britannia evolved from Pritani.
Both these references attribute Latin or Roman with the change from Pretania to Britannia. The references I've provided above go into much more detail, and I believe that all the references I've produced meet verifiability standards. You state that a source saying Caesar coined the term Britannia does not mean he named it without knowledge of the Greek name for the same land - true, but if you hypothesize he did or didn't, is that not a form of the error of synthesising too? You also ask for modern sources - why? Nothing in Wikipedia states that sources have to be modern, and given that the subject matter is of ancient material, it makes less sense unless the modern sources have uncovered further evidence, etc, which isn't the case here. In fact, given the amount of references I've produced (Here's another one - Name into word: proper names that have become common property; a discursive dictionary by Eric Partridge there's a case to say that the evolved theory is a simplification of the mistaken translation theory starting with Caesar.
Whether we end up agreeing or disagreeing though, I believe a strong case has been made to remove the sentence in the opening paragraph and to create a new small section (Emtymology?) that puts forward an explanation that states the term was likely a result of an accidental mistranslation, or an attempt to correct an error, or perhaps a simple evolution, but that it is impossible to accurately state how the name "Britannia" was created. --HighKing (talk) 19:50, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
There is quite a well-referenced section in this article. I haven't had time to go through them all - you may wish to read it. However, I don't think that the sources I've read believe it is likely Caesar invented a term which sounded remarkably like the Greek name for the same place. It sounds rather implausible to me too. The reason I suggest more recent sources are better is because the study of history has moved forward considerably. Modern work is far more reliable than books from 1854. Wiki-Ed (talk) 23:54, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I've already read that. I'm very familiar with it :-) And it states:
In 55 and 54 BC Caesar's invasions of Britain brought first hand knowledge, and in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico he introduced the term Britannia.[80]
I'm OK with stating that Caesar "introduced the term" rather than "coined the phrase" - either is better than stating that the "term evolved". Is it OK to go ahead and change the article. I believe we're pretty close to agreement.?. --HighKing (talk) 10:19, 3 July 2009 (UTC)
How about: Britannia was the term used by the Romans to refer to the Roman province covering much of the island of Great Britain. The area beyond the Antonine Wall belonging to the Picts in the north was known as Caledonia. The name itself derives from Pretannia, Diodorus's rendering of the indigenous name for the Pretani people whom the Greeks believed to inhabit the British Isles.(refs). The term Britannia was introduced into Latin by Caesar in 55BC.(ref) Britannia was personified as a goddess by the Romans, and in more recent times has become a figure of national personification of the United Kingdom. A reader can then find more detail in the rest of the article and the linked sources. Wiki-Ed (talk) 09:57, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Well .. better, but not OK - you're still stating that the name itself derives from Pretannia and so far I don't see why that isn't a little bit of WP:SYNTH? --HighKing (talk) 10:09, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
No it's not synthesis. The sources, for example Allen [3], are pretty clear. I think we need a third opinion. In the mean time ask yourself how likely it is that Caesar came up with a nine-letter word for a place which was almost exactly the same, bar one similar-sounding consonant, as the Greek name for the same place. Wiki-Ed (talk) 11:56, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Your Allen source makes no mention that the term evolved from "Pretani". As a recap, I've produced - what, 3? 4? 5? - references that state that the term was coined by Caesar (from Google books), with others stating it was introduced by Romans, and 2 sources even going as far as to provide explanations. You've produced how many that state the term evolved? None? And the argument of "ask yourself how likely" is probably WP:OR... I don't believe I'm being unreasonable - why are you finding it hard to accept the references? --HighKing (talk) 17:36, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Yes it does. Allen explains the derivation in the second paragraph of page 174. Collingwood explains the derivation in the third paragraph of page 31. Snyder explains it explicitly in the second paragraph of page 12: "From these words the Romans derived the Latin forms Britannia, Britannus and Britannicus respectively". Of the sources you've provided, Duffy explains the evolution of the term in the third paragraph of page 5 and Dougal explains it in the fifth paragraph of page 30. You decided to tell us a Google search of sources we cannot read fully "shows a number of books that back up" your argument, but then go on to tell us we cannot read selectively, which is probably a good thing because a quick glance at the results suggests the authors probably are explaining the evolution of the terminology. You've also accused me of selectively reading, but I have to say I really cannot see how you're coming to the conclusions you're coming to if you're reading the same material. Wiki-Ed (talk) 18:52, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
When I say you are selectively reading, what I mean is that you quoted sentences out of context and bolded words to highlight an interpretation not borne out by a reading of the full paragraph. You are quick to rule out references and sources that you don't agree with without being precise about why. Pointing out that a reference is old doesn't mean that it is wrong, especially if you can't show how newer books refute what is being said. My searching has only been conducted through what's available on Google books (probably yours also???). Hardly ideal. Especially as you've correctly pointed out, sometimes only small portions of the book are available. But I do wish to make clear a number of points that I believe should be clarified in the article, and not just the imprecise statement currently in use. The current article states about Britannia that The name itself derives from Pretannia, except the reference given does not use the term "Pretannia", and use of this term here appears solely to boost the idea that Britannia naturally evolved from Pretannia, that it is somehow a latinization of a greek word. Looks through the references:
  1. There are a number of books that state that the Romans were the first to use the term "Britannia". Nobody disagrees, but other books try to explain who and why.
  2. There are a number of books that state that Caesar's writings are the first record of employing the term Britannia
  3. There are a number of books that describe how immigrant tribes in Britain retained the names by which they were known in their native country, and how the area where they lived was called after the tribe
  4. A number of books describe the close relationship between the tribes in Gaul and the tribes settled in the south coast of England. A number of book include Caesar's references to the cooperation between tribes in Gaul and England.
  5. A number of books list the tribes known to Caesar and his successor, one of which was called the "Britanni", which settled in England
All in all, while your request for comment is a good idea, your choice of words doesn't represent how I would have chosen to state my argument. My argument is that the current article is incorrect to merely state that Britannia evolved from Pretani, and that the subject should be given a small separate section where the topic can be detailed better. --HighKing (talk) 21:03, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent) I quoted them in context and highlighted the words so there was no confusion that the authors were using a particular form of words. Of the four references supporting the sentence three use the word "Pretannia", the fourth uses the alternative form "Pretanike". The sources do mention that it might have been a similar word to that used by the inhabitants, but that is presented as conjecture and melding the bullet points you've listed is synthesis. In regard to the wording of the RfC: there is a separate article on the evolution of the name Britain so I don't think it would be proportionate to go into detail about it. Wiki-Ed (talk) 21:24, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Sub topic[edit]

Looking back at the history it was changed last month from island of Great Britain to British Isles by an IP who might of been part of the pro British Isles Brigade :). Should probably keep the disputed tag though if that guys work is used for a source on this article the IP didnt add him when he changed it to BI. BritishWatcher (talk) 23:49, 18 June 2009 (UTC)
And the only editors allowed to make such edit changes are British editors, if Irish editors correct things it's war and pov-pushing. Well I do commend you BW for correcting the page. And of course Ghmyrtle, as ever neutral in your editing. Tfz 00:22, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Just catching this response before packing in for the night, I think I should make it clear that I was responding to a request at Welsh Wikipedians's talk page for comments on the reliability or otherwise of David Hughes' book as a source. Nothing to do with the article. No intention of getting dragged into an edit war here, simply stating that this source, wherever used, is completely unreliable as such. (Anyone who doesn't know me will get an idea of my position on "GB" by having a glance at my user page...) Enaidmawr (talk) 00:33, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I wish i hadnt looked at your userpage lol :| BritishWatcher (talk) 09:38, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
I'd already seen yours, lol! Enaidmawr (talk) 21:41, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
At the risk of sounding like a snob, I took a cursory look at the David Hughes book and, not to put too fine a point on it, I'm not impressed. There's probably a good reason why it wasn't picked up by a major publisher... Deb (talk) 11:55, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Further to that, Heritage Books seems, from its website, to be a thinly-disguised self-publishing arrangement - as opposed to another Heritage Books which is purely a marketing firm dealing in other people's publications. Deb (talk) 12:00, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Stumbled upon this conversation... Had a look at this book on Google Books, and I would say it is definitely NOT a reliable source. Reasons:
  1. Certainly appears to be self-published. Per WP:SELFPUB this is not acceptable unless "produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications." No sign of that.
  2. It is poorly written, which leads me to believe that it has never been copy edited by anyone other than the author. It simply appears to be a Microsoft Word document that has been sent for printing.
  3. Huge chunks are unreferenced narative or opinion. If they were in a Wikpedia article they would be deleted as original research or unsourced. We should hardly be using a source that has a lower quality threshold than Wikipedia itself!
  4. There are no reviews that I can find anywhere. So hardly peer-reviewed.
  5. p.379: The House of Oldcastle will no doubt reign over Britain in the 21st Century, and/or in the "New World Order". I suspect this falls foul of WP:FRINGE. There are other dubious statements I happened to notice too.
In short, if I had tried submitting this as (say) an undergraduate thesis it would have been rightly rejected. It's a dud. Lozleader (talk) 14:31, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

(Unindent). Source removed. There were others which said the same thing better. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:11, 19 June 2009 (UTC)

Might I suggest that if the source (Hughes) is used anywhere else it should be removed as well, referenced to here? Enaidmawr (talk) 21:43, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
There seem to be 9 articles referencing it - here. Hi ho, hi ho.... Ghmyrtle (talk) 21:51, 19 June 2009 (UTC)
Removed. Lozleader (talk) 22:43, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Request for comment[edit]

Two requests for comment on the same sentence:

  • 1. A compromise was achieved relating to the wording of the introduction. One party asserted that the sources said the Greek term Pretannia was cognate with Pretanic Isles and that the resulting Latin derivation (Britannia) might also, therefore, apply to the whole archipelago. The second party drew a distinction between "derived from" and "equates to". Is the current compromise edit correct?
  • 2. A third party entered the discussion to assert that the "Britannia" was not derived from "Pretannia" and that Caesar coined the term independently. The first party disagrees. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:14, 4 July 2009 (UTC)


  • It is highly unlikely that Caesar coined the term. He mnerely wrote down what some one else told him the name was, probably latinising it in the process. P and B are related letters, one being voiced and the other unvoiced, so that the words are thus at least cognate. However none of the books cited are really the best academic source. Collingwood is not a recent work, and Davies wrote a history of all periods and is not a Romanist. Is there something on it in Rivet and Smith, The Placenames of Roman Britain? On the first point, I would suggest looking at precisely what Diodorus Siculus actually wrote, and what Ptolomy's geography says. Peterkingiron (talk) 23:00, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
A reference for a translation of the work of Diodorus is available online here, and Ptolomy here. Original work of Ptolemy is available here and other articles state that Diodorus used the term Prettania (although I haven't got references for this). --HighKing (talk) 21:20, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
  • Since I've been away, offline, the discussion has clearly moved on apace. I'm no expert on this (as some of my comments probably showed), but it seems to me that if there exist disputed (but referenced) theories as to the origin of the word, and its original meaning, then the article needs to set out both - clearly, neutrally, and with appropriate weight. What any of us, as individuals, think is more or less plausible isn't really appropriate to the article - readers can make up their own minds. Ghmyrtle (talk) 22:07, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree. Do you agree to create a small new section where the various views can be presented? I would get a little too long and therefore wouldn't be appropriate in the lede. --HighKing (talk) 11:47, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree it should be done, but I don't agree that I should be the one to do it (not sure if that's what you were suggesting)! Ghmyrtle (talk) 11:50, 10 July 2009 (UTC)
-) No, but I can see why you might have though that :-) I'll make the changes, probably over the w/e --HighKing (talk) 12:05, 10 July 2009 (UTC)

(outdent) What about the following, with appropriate references: On the surface it would appear that Pytheas was the first to use the name, Britannia; however, no fragments of any manuscript from Pytheas survives, and subsequent quotations offer a P- alternating with B-, suggesting that the name learned by Pytheas had P-, as in *Pretania or *Pritannia, etc.: the etymology of "Britain" is so convincing that many authors use the P-form, going to far as the quote the Greek or Latin with P-, even though it is predominantly B-. They attribute the B- to replacement by the Romans in the time of Julius Caesar --HighKing (talk) 11:20, 13 July 2009 (UTC)

This is a RfC section so (a) you shouldn't be trying to influence it until it is over (b) your suggested wording is rather confusing (c) there's quite a bit of synthesis (d) the bits that aren't synthesised are not supported by the sources. Wiki-Ed (talk) 12:19, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
This would influence it no more than your introduction to the RfC. And I would think that it's already over - no comments by anyone new in over a week. As for synthesis - you'll find that I pretty much copied the paragraph above in an attempt to be neutral from Pytheas. --HighKing (talk) 13:48, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Reading it without the inserted text and in context it makes a little bit more sense, but I don't see what it has do with the argument you were putting forward above. Moreover, it is only supported by one source (in that article) and that is over 100 years old. The four modern sources supporting the current sentence are phrased much more comprehensibly. Wiki-Ed (talk) 15:16, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
The only argument we're having is that the current sentence currently states that "Britannia" derived from "Pretani". That is overly simplistic and probably false. The paragraph above gives a more accurate etymology and allows for the possibility that it did not "derive" in the classical sense, but that it probably occurred in Roman times, and may have been a mistaken translation or may have even had other origins (such as the name of the tribe "Britanni", etc).
I am proposing that the paragraph above forms the main text, and references can provide more reading should a reader want to find out more. --HighKing (talk) 15:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
You don't have to agree with what the sources say, but you do have to accept that what they say stands. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:42, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I suppose that explains why you've continually tried to disallow sources that state the Caesar's writings were the first instance of the term Britannia, and the detailed explanations of how place names were used in his time. And why you've resisted for weeks any attempt to examine sources that claim that the Romans mistranslated a 'P' to a 'B', or that the name Britannia may even have resulted from the name of a Belgian tribe. Sure. Looks like it's me not agreeing with sources and not accepting them all right.... --HighKing (talk) 00:28, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I don't see any harm in canvassing possible wordings here, but I agree that HighKing's suggestion is a little unclear and technical. I go back to my suggestion that different theories should be set out, but personally I lack the technical knowledge to set out a proposal. Ghmyrtle (talk) 12:31, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Hi, do you believe the paragraph above could be expanded with different theories, or do you think a different starting point in needed altogether? --HighKing (talk) 15:40, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
I think the reference should be taken out of the lede, and there needs to be a separate (brief!) section on etymology that refers to both the theory that you support, and that supported by Wiki-Ed. Ghmyrtle (talk) 16:00, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
Sounds fine to me, a similar structure to other articles on this kind of topic, but, again, weighting needs to be applied. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:42, 13 July 2009 (UTC)
The reason I suggested the paragraph above was to avoid making the etymology section overly long, but I can live with a more detailed section if that's what the consensus is. Based on weight, the overwhelming majority of sources attribute the term to the Romans, with a high likelyhood that it was a "mistake" of some sort, either because of a mistranslation of a 'P' from 'Pretani' to a 'B' of 'Britannia', or an alternative theory that Caesar thought he was correcting a mistake because of the Belgian tribe of a similar name settling on the coast. --HighKing (talk) 00:28, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
Well I guess we'll have to wait to see this "overwhelming majority of sources" that you've found. Wiki-Ed (talk) 16:54, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Besides the sources already mentioned on this Talk page? Are you serious? Or have you read them yet? --HighKing (talk) 18:33, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
I assumed you meant you had some more since those that I have produced agree with my argument and the ones that you have produced also agree with my argument. See my comment of 4 July above. Wiki-Ed (talk) 19:45, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
And yet, on that basis they all agree with what I'm saying too. Go figure.... --HighKing (talk) 23:43, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

(outdent)Seeing as we now appear to agree, I'll construct the new Etymology later, possibly today. --HighKing (talk) 09:12, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

From reading your comments on the British Isles page I'm not so sure about that. Wiki-Ed (talk) 09:51, 20 July 2009 (UTC)
OK - I didn't think we were disagreeing so much even on the BI page. I think an etymology section that starts by summarizing the Pretani, mentions the change from P to B originating in Roman times from Caesar's writing, and finally 2 possible explanations - the simple and straightforward "derived", and the deliberate substitution? Whatcha think? --HighKing (talk) 11:23, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Last night of the proms in the section 'Modern associations'[edit]

Could something be said about Rule Britannia at the Last night of the proms here? Flosssock1 (talk) 19:18, 7 September 2009 (UTC)


This has puzzled me for years, but I'm going to test the water here....

Surely the Roman province of Britannia and Britannia as a national personification are two completely different subjects. Wouldn't it be more proper to split these into two articles? The nearest comparison I can think of is having a shared article for Mars and Mars (mythology). --Jza84 |  Talk  00:33, 13 January 2010 (UTC)

If there's no objection, I'd like to split this article accordingly. --Jza84 |  Talk  13:19, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
This article is about the personification. We already have an article about the province, which is linked to in the very first sentence (Britannia (Roman province) directs to Roman Britain). The information here on Roman and Medieval usage is to provide background and context to the imagery of Britannia as an emblem. In other words, there's no need for a split because it already exists. Perhaps some editing is required to clarify the scope of the topic. Paul B (talk) 13:26, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't think that's quite right (and I've tried to rewrite the intro to more clearly summarize what the article actually discusses.) It really discusses Britannia as a designation for Britain; the personification is only one element of that. The term "Britannia" long predates the Roman conquest, and, much later, both the term and the goddess were revived as a kind of romantic national symbol. Similarly we have articles for both Gaul and Roman Gaul. We already articles on Britannia and Roman Britannia; I could see the grounds for having a distinct article for Britannia (personification) or Britannia (symbolism), but the article titled Britannia ought to discuss the designation.--Cúchullain t/c 17:01, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
The rewrite of the lead, coupled with a new hat note does actually seem to clear this up nicely. --Jza84 |  Talk  17:19, 14 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, that's a more precise formulation of the topic, and a clearer articluation of the article's scope. Paul B (talk) 11:35, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Roman period[edit]

Is this Hadrian Sestertius a Britannia example?
Is this Roma depiction related?

I searched commons:Category:Ancient Roman coins and commons:Category:Coins of Hadrianus for an example coin depicting Britannia, but I could not find any with a clear inscription. The one at the right looks similar but it is described as "Roma seated left on cuirass and leaning on shield, holding Victory and cornucopia, right foot on helmet, left on rock." See also Roma (mythology) and Column of Antoninus Pius. Could either serve in the article? -84user (talk) 06:59, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


See: Twobells (talk) 19:07, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

See it why? I already can see it? What are you on about?

Roman Britain and Great Britain[edit]

Considering the Romans named the province after the island, shouldn't the island be listed first? Although the province was called Britannia, I'm sure the Romans weren't trying to suggests that the island was named something else, but instead naming there province after the entity in which it was located. Rob (talk) 14:19, 14 September 2013 (UTC)