Descriptive Gazetteers

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A system limited to statistics and maps would be rather boring. While we lack the capacity to write our own more broadly based description of each place and its history, we have included over 96,000 descriptions of places written in the late 19th century. These come from four separate publications:

  • John Bartholomew, Gazetteer of the British Isles (Edinburgh: Bartholomew, 1887); the first edition of a book still being published today. This contains 918 pages and 55,606 generally short entries, covering the whole of the British Isles including Ireland and the Channel Isles.
  • John Marius Wilson, The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (Edinburgh: A Fullarton & Co., 6 vols., 1870-72). This contains 2,391 pages and 28,730 relatively long entries covering England and Wales, and the Isle of Man.
  • Francis Groome, The Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (Edinburgh: Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, 1882). This contains about 1,500 pages and 7,264 entries, some very long indeed. Work on Groome was a joint project with the Gazetteer for Scotland, who hold the copyright.
  • Samuel Lewis, A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London: Samuel Lewis, 1837). This contains 3,939 generally quite long entries. We are very grateful to Derek Lewis of LibraryIreland for allowing us to share his transcription of Lewis.

All major settlements have two entries in our system, a short one from Bartholomew plus a longer one from the Imperial Gazetteer, Groome or Lewis, depending on the part of the British Isles. We try to include the entry with the most appropriate length on our "place" pages.

These gazetteers include entries for the towns and villages on which the districts and parishes in our Administrative Gazetteer were based, so we have tried to make the relevant text accessible from our place home pages. However, they also contain many entries for mountains and rivers, stately homes and ruins, and so on. These are only accessible by directly searching the descriptive gazetteers via one of our expert search options. From there, you can narrow your search by specifying a nation or county, and also by the kind of entry. You can also search the full text of the gazetteers for a particular place-name, or other word.

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