Talk:Traditional counties of Scotland

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I am not sure how far the counties can be regarded as "cultural" divisions. They were essentially administrative areas set up to deal with those aspects of life which the King, rather than the Church, controlled, that is land tenure, administration of justice, and military matters.

Nor am I sure how useful it is to talk of them as "traditional". Like any system of administrative districts, they have changed over time. The distribution of the counties as shown on the associated map represents the situation just before the major reforms of 1891, but that is just one of the phases through which they passed, over the centuries.

Originally, the counties did not even cover the whole country. As part of the price of having nominal sovereignty over the whole country, the Kings of Scotland had to make compromise arrangements with various of the Warlords of the more remote areas. These often included the King ceding certain rights, such as the right to hold courts, and the lands in which such arrangements applied were called "Regalities". These arrangements continued in existence until they were swept away by the "Heredible Jurisdictions Act", part of the punitive legislation which followed the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.

It is important also to realise that, until the 19th century reforms (initially piecemeal, but eventually consolidated in 1889-91 when the County Councils were formed), the Counties had little direct relevance to the great majority of the population. For them, government appeared principally at the level of the Parish, for both ecclesiastical and civil matters. The Church grouped the parishes into Presbyteries, and the Presbyteries into Synods, whose boundaries seldom coincided with those of the Counties. I note that there is no article in Wikipedia on the "Traditional Parishes".


I agree with the above statement, the counties are only "historic" in the sense that they no longer exist local authorities and only being introduced in the late 1800s they are hardly traditional. They are also not exactly cultural divisions either. When they were set up they also "Anglified" the system of local government in Scotland, as can be seen as more traditional names like Angus and The Mearns being changed to the more English sounding Forfarshire and Kincardineshire respectively (another example of this can be found in the "shire" being placed on the end of Moray). I would like to make some changes to this article elaborating on these points. Would anyone have any objections to this?User:Benson85


This sounds like a POV, and it's also historically inaccurate. Most of the Scottish counties predate the 1800s quite considerably. They are also older than the traditional counties of Ireland, which are are generally known as such.80.255 14:25, 2 September 2005 (UTC)
Which counties? If you look at pre 1800 maps of Scotland you can't find "Lanarkshire" or "Ayrshire" but counties like Badenoch, Strathern, Breadalbane and Mentieth. Sounds like a POV, but it's not.User:Benson85
You are suggesting, based on one map (which you haven't actually cited), that Ayrshire or Lanarkshire didn't exist pre-1800? That is clearly nonsense. Take a look at which clearly references the "Shyre of Ayre" in 1685. references the "county of Lanark" in 1583. In any case the phrase "traditional county" or "ancient or geographical county" has a specific meaning - i.e. to differentiate the counties from the registration counties and the new administrative counties in 1889/1890. Owain 12:38, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
I agree with Owain, for instance in the Register of the Great Seal of Scotland AD1306-1424 Appendix 2, p.533 it notes "in vicecomitatus de Air" (in Sheriffdom of Ayr). These Sheriffdoms or Shire counties' areas were recorded as "Vicecomitatus" or (talk) 23:03, 13 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree with User:Benson85, above. Burghs were the core unit of local government in Scotland, not counties.--Mais oui! 13:08, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

This isn't about local government — it is about counties! Modern local government didn't start until 1889 in England and Wales and 1890 in Scotland. The "traditional" or "ancient or geographical counties" are well defined geographical areas, which is exactly how this page portrays them — it doesn't make any statement as to the primacy of any area for local government! Owain 15:46, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
The Wikipedia article County states "a county was the land under the jurisdiction of a count", a locality governed by a count (local government?). It wasn't based on one map, It was based on a few that can also be found at the same NLS site.,, some of which do not reference a Shire of Ayr. As I mentioned previously some counties have been counties for centuries, some with different names (eg Nithsdale/Dumfries-shire, Angus/Forfar-shire), some with the same names and others being consolidated into larger counties. My original point was that perhaps the article could be expanded to elaborate some of these intricacies. I was not denying the existence of Lanarkshire or Ayrshire, just suggesting that the article could have a bit of detail about how the counties have changed over time.Benson85 21:07, 25 September 2005 (UTC)
A 'History of counties' article would be interesting, but I'm not sure this article is the best place to put such information; this is specifically referring to the well-defined "ancient or geographic counties". Owain 08:26, 26 September 2005 (UTC)
Many counties (countes) are in the Index of the Ragman Rolls as are some Counts (Comtes) of the Counties. A compiled a list of each counte with occupants may be helpful. Scotire (talk) 07:29, 6 June 2013 (UTC)
The "counties" (sic) did not originate pre-Union. There was no such thing as a Scottish "county" before the Union. Indeed there is scant evidence of the use of that word to apply to Scottish admin areas before the 19th century, and no indigenous sources. County was an English word applied to the Scottish units of local government, in modern times. How on earth does that make them "traditional"? -Mais oui! 21:33, 17 February 2006 (UTC)
Mais oui! Your statement of 17 February 2006 "There was no such thing as a Scottish "county" before the Union" - was completely erroneous. The "Ragman Roll" lists many "counte". Scotire (talk) 13:00, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
wiktionary. comitatus.
Comitatus: (Latin: companionship or 'band'): (County). The term describes the tribal structure of the Anglo-Saxons and other Germanic tribes in which groups of men would swear fealty to a hlaford (lord) in exchange for food, mead, and heriot, the loan of fine armor and weaponry. The men who swore such an oath were called thegns (roughly akin to modern Scottish 'thane'), and they vowed to fight for their lord in battle. The comitatus was the functional military and government unit of early Anglo-Saxon society. Geographical counties' boundaries were defined on maps in the 18th century. These were, and still are, geographical place-names and that will not alter. They should not be regarded as "former" place-names as shown in Wikimedia Commons. The administration of these counties should not be seen as the end of county placenames, rather that the placenames exist within the administration areas. Scotire (talk) 23:42, 13 May 2013 (UTC)
re Comitatus in ancient times as explained above. The current title Lord Lieutenant is given to the British monarch's personal representatives in Scottish counties (comitatus). The office can be considered viceregal. In 1794 permanent lieutenancies were established by Royal Warrant. By the Militia Act 1797 the lieutenants appointed "for the Counties, Stewartries, Cities, and Places" were given powers to raise and command county militia units, not unlike the ancient "Comitatus". While in their lieutenancies, lord lieutenants are among the few individuals in Scotland officially permitted to fly the banner of the Royal Arms of Scotland, or Lion Rampant of Scotland as it is more commonly known. Scotire (talk) 00:32, 14 May 2013 (UTC)