Largest counties in UK

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Ceremonial counties of England have their roots in the historic counties, which date back to the ancient cultural divisions and the Norman invasion in the Middle Ages.

Over time, the boundaries have changes but the majority of subdivisions still reflect their original descent.

What is the origin of the largest counties in England?

10 largest UK ceremonial counties by area
Area (km2)
Population (2015)
1. North Yorkshire
8,654
1,140,400
2. Lincolnshire
6,975
1,066,100
3. Cumbria
6,766
498,000
4. Devon
6,706
1,169,200
5. Norfolk
5,380
885,000
6. Northumberland
5,013
315,300
7. Somerset
4,170
940,200
8. Suffolk
3,800
741,900
9. Hampshire
3,769
1,814,300
10. Kent
3,738
1,801,200


1. North Yorkshire

The region of the today’s North Yorkshire had been invaded by Romans, Angles and Vikings, the latter of which had the greatest influence on the local culture. The Viking influence is still visible in the characteristic Yorkshire dialect, which has many traits of the Old Norse language.

The cradle of Yorkshire was the town of York, which is still the largest settlement in the region. The fourth largest town in North Yorkshire is Scarborough, which is commemorated in a popular folk song, Scarborough fair. Scarborough fair was a famous trading event which used to be held annually for 500 years (from 1253). It lasted 6 weeks (from 15th August, the Assumption Day to 29th September, the Michaelmas Day) and attracted merchants from all over the Europe.

2. Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire was the product of the merging of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey and the borough of Stamford. The biggest town in Lincolnshire is Lincoln, which was established by the Romans in AD 48. The Romans called the town Lindum Colonia, from the Celtic word lindo, meaning ‘pool’. The name was adopted into Old English as Lindcylene.

3. Cumbria

Cumbria is a northern English county which borders with Scotland. It is well-known for its Lake District National Park (and the Lake Poets), Scafell Pike, the highest point of England (978 m) and Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the 5th century AD, Cumbria was inhabited by Romano-Britons who spoke the Cumbric language. The name Cumbria stems from the Celtic word combroges, which means ‘compatriots’. Cumbria, as a present-day ceremonial county was created in 1971 through the merging of Cumberland and Westmorland and small areas of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire.

Did you know?

The smallest county of England is The City of London, followed by Bristol, Isle of Wight, Rutland and Tyne and Wear.

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