The United Kingdom is a confusing place for many people, and their not-quite-answered questions about it go all the way to what does and does not constitute the United Kingdom in the first place. Not to give the ending away, but the animated map above by historical-cartographical Youtuber Ollie Bye eventually reveals that, if you’re looking at the British Isles, you’re looking at the UK — unless, of course, you’re looking at the Republic of Ireland. But taking the long view, the political division of the British Isles has seldom been so simple. We know they were populated by what we now call caucasoids at least 44,000 years ago, but by 700 BC three groups had divided them up: the Britons, the Picts, and the Gaels.
The complications really start at the time of the Roman Empire, when, depending on where in the British Isles you went, you’d have encountered the Icenii, the Parisi, the Caledonii, the Iverni, and many other distinct peoples besides. When the Roman Empire gave way to the Roman Republic, Britannia, or Roman Britain, began its expansion (and its road-building) across the Isles, starting from the southeast.
But with Rome’s withdrawal in 410 a great many new borders appear like spiderweb cracks across the land. For centuries thereafter, the British Isles is a place of many kingdoms: Mercia, Wessex, Northumbria, Gwynedd, and Deheubarth, to name but a few. (Not to mention the Vikings.) And then you have a year like 1066, when the Norman conquest redraws a large chunk of the map at a stroke.
Even those most ignorant of British history will recognize a few of the kingdoms that arise later on in this period: the Kingdom of Scotland, for example, or the Kingdom of Wales. Starting from the mid-12th century, a certain Kingdom of England begins to paint the map red. By 1604, the British Isles are cleanly divided between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland; by 1707, the Kingdom of Great Britain is running the whole place. The situation hasn’t changed much since, though anyone who has traveled across the British Isles knows that the ostensible lack of political fractiousness masks many enduring cultural divisions subtle to the outsider: while everyone living everywhere from John o’ Groats to Land’s End may officially be British, few would countenance being lumped together with all the rest of them.
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Watch the Rise and Fall of the British Empire in an Animated Time-Lapse Map ( 519 A.D. to 2014 A.D.)
The Roman Roads of Britain Visualized as a Subway Map
Watch the History of the World Unfold on an Animated Map: From 200,000 BCE to Today
The History of Civilization Mapped in 13 Minutes: 5000 BC to 2014 AD
5-Minute Animation Maps 2,600 Years of Western Cultural History
A History of the Entire World in Less Than 20 Minutes
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.
42000kya, caucasoids did not exist, unless they’re referring to Neanderthal types. Caucasian’s did not even appear until less than 10000kya. This is perplexing and needs further citations.
I’m seeing a lot of issues with the placement of Picts, use of the term Scots before it was really a thing (I might be convinced to accept Scotti), Dál Riata not showing up until after 518, Fortriu not being mentioned as Pictish until really quite late in the game. The entire interior of Ireland being left white until quite late. The Hebrides did not suddenly become Viking lands in 794. The first attack on Iona was recorded c. 802.
There’s just so many issues here. You might want to go back and reconsider your sources. Were medievalists involved in the creation of this video?