Expert Search

Our home page allows simple searching by placename and postcode. Here you can widen searches by using wild-cards or looking for sound-alikes, and narrow searches by specifying the county or nation. You can directly search for administrative units or for descriptions from historical gazetteers:

 

Name:
Search type:
Region:

  • Searches can include asterisks ('*') as wild cards to match characters you are not sure of, or you can try including names that sound like the name you are looking for.
  • Wild card and 'sound alike' searches can return very large numbers of matches, so consider specifying region and/or type. These searches can also be slow!
  • Several different kinds of county have been used in England and Wales over the last 200 years, as defined in our gazetteer of administrative units, but we use ancient counties when defining 'places'.

Our gazetteer of places was created especially for A Vision of Britain through Time, and aims to include all towns and all villages of any size. It draws on our gazetteer of administrative units, as well as our historical maps and descriptive gazetteers, and includes every settlement that gave its name to any of the following:

  • All Ancient Parishes, Civil Parishes that existed in 1911, and Scottish parishes.
  • All local government districts that existed between 1894 and 1974, and all the slightly earlier sanitary districts.
  • All Poor Law Unions and Registration Districts, and almost all Registration sub-Districts.
  • All Parliamentary Constituencies.

Each place can be found using any of the names we have linked to it, including the names of associated administrative units, names given in historical gazetteers, and names used by historical travel writers.

 

Name:
Search type:
Region:
Entry type:

  • Searches can include asterisks ('*') as wild cards to match characters you are not sure of, or you can try including names that sound like the name you are looking for.
  • Wild card and 'sound alike' searches can return very large numbers of matches, so consider specifying region and/or type. These searches can also be slow!
  • Searching here by nation or county is smart: it understands the polyhierarchic structure of our underlying database. For example, if you specify a county, parishes will be returned if they were within the Ancient, Registration or Administrative County of that name.

Our administrative gazetteer combines:

  • Frederick Youngs' Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England (Royal Historical Society, 1979 and 1991)
  • Melville Richards' Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units (Univ. of Wales Press, 1969)
  • Richard Cheffins' Parliamentary Constituencies and their registers since 1832 (British Library, 1998)
  • Gazetteer of Scottish Administrative Units compiled from census reports and other sources

Our gazetteer also incorporates information supplied by the Estonian and Swedish National Archives, plus additional research at the University of Portsmouth.

 

Name:
Search type:
Region:
Entry type:

  • Searches can include asterisks ('*') as wild cards to match characters you are not sure of, or you can try including names that sound like the name you are looking for.
  • Wild card and 'sound alike' searches can return very large numbers of matches, so consider specifying region and/or type. These searches can also be slow!
  • You can also search the full text of the entries, and here you can search for any word, not just places names.

Our descriptive gazetteer combines the full text of four 19th century gazetteers, a total of over 90,000 entries:

  • John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales (1872)
  • Frances Groome's The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1885)
  • Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (1837)
  • John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles (1887)

Our typology of descriptive entries is based on the ADL Feature Type Thesaurus.


Political Areas

countries
 . . .  State
 .  countries, 1st order divisions
 . . .  Nation
 . . .  Region
 .  countries, 2nd order divisions
 . . .  County
 .  countries, 3rd order divisions
 . . .  Higher-level District
 . . .  Middle-level District
 . . .  Lower-level District
 .  countries, 4th order divisions
 . . .  Parish
 . . .  sub-Parish
 . . .  sub sub-Parish
 .  multinational entities
 . . .  World
 . . .  Continent
 . . .  Sub-Continent

Our system for classifying British administrative units is designed as an extension to the Alexandria Digital Library's gazetteer Feature Type Thesaurus, but that contains only four terms for intra-state political units so the first expansion is from their four to our seven Geographical Levels. The next expansion is to our Unit Type values, and the final one to our type-specific Unit Status values ('World', 'State' and 'Nation' are both Geographical Levels and Unit Types). NB a given type of unit may hold more than one status value concurrently.

Click on any of the levels for details of the types we include within that level. Where there are a small number of units with a given type or status, you can access a complete listing of all such units.