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I have set out on this page the names of countries in Old English, for use in modern composition in Old English. I have stuck with modern states. Where provinces, cities, river and other places within that state are known then I have provided those on a separate webpage, with a link. I am jotting down lists of British place-names separately (and if someone with better sources I do not mind their lending a hand on that one).

You will notice an oddity: how can a modern state unknown to our Englisc-speaking ancestors have a name in Englisc? For that I have provided an explanation at the bottom.

The sources for genuine names are varied. I have listed these in the table; most are from King Alfred's free translation of Orosius's History, with its famous digressions from Ohthere and Wulfstan. There is also the Chronicle, poems etc. Some names are known only in Norse, which is a fair northern source where others are lacking. Where just the names of peoples are given these are in Italics.

EuropeAsiaAfricaPacificAmericaThe Seas

EuropeEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
EUROPE Europe Europe - -
Albania Albania
Liubenaland
- (poss Liubene) -
Austria Easternerice - - -
Belgium Belgium Gallia Belgica - -
Belarus Hwitrussland - - -
Bulgaria Pulgaraland Pulgara lond - -
The C I S - - - -
Croatia Horigtaland Horigti
Horoti
- -
Cyprus Cipros Cipros - -
Czechland Bæmaric Bæme - -
Denmark Denamearc Denamearc - -
Estonia Estland Estland - -
Finland Finnland Finnas - -
France Francland Francrice Francland -
France Oversea Francland Ofersæ - - -
Germany Germania Germania
Sexland (poss Saxony)
Allemania (poss Allemania)
Germania
Gibraltar Calpis Calpis - -
The Pillars of Hercules Ercoles syla Ercoles syla - -
Greece Crecaland Creca lond / land Creacas
Crece
-
East Roman Empire Eastrice Eastrice - -
Hungary Ungerland Hungerre Ungerland -
Iceland Island - Thili Ísland
Ireland Iraland oððe Irland Hibernia
Iraland
Igbernia
Scotland
Iraland
Irland
-
Italy Italia / Eotolland Italia Italia
Eotol
-
Latvia Lettland - - -
Lithuania Lettow - - -
Luxemburg Luxemburgric
Letsgeburgric
- - -
Malta Melita Melita - -
Monaco Monaco - - -
Montenegro Sweartbeorg - - -
Netherlands Þa Niðerland - - -
Norway Norðweg Norðweg Noregr
Norvegr
Poland Weonodland Weonodland
Weonoðland
Winodland
Winedas
- -
Portugal Portugal - - -
Romania Romania
Datia
Datia - -
Russia Russland Mægþa lond[1] Garðarriki
Rússland
Serbia Serbland - - -
Scandinavia Scedenig - - -
Slovakia Slofacland - - -
Slovenia Slofenland - - -
Spain Ispania Ispania Yspania
Spane
Spene
Hispania
Speonland[2]
-
Sweden Sweoland Sweoland
Sweon
Sweoland Svíþjóð
Switzerland Switaland - - -
The Ukraine Ucrægna
Lytel Russland
- - -
United Kingdom Bretenrice
Þæt Geanede Cynerice
Brettarice
- - -
Yugoslavia Suðwendland - - -

AsiaEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
ASIA Asia Asia - -
Afghanistan Afganaland - - -
Arabia Arabealand Arabia Arabea
Arabealand
-
Armenia Armenia Armenia - -
Bahrain Bahregn
Twegensæsieg
- - -
Bangladesh Bangladesc
Bengalaland
- - -
Bhutan Butan - - -
Brunei Bruneg - - -
Burma Byrma - - -
Cambodia Cambocge - - -
China Seringaland - Seringas -
Hong Kong Hongcong - - -
East Timor Easttimor - - -
India Indealand
Indea
Indea
India
Indea Indland
Indonesia Eastindeanisiege - - -
Iraq Iracland - - -
Iran Persealand Persea
Persiða
Persea
Persealand
-
Israel Israhelaland - Israhela -
Japan Geapanrice - - -
Jordan Iordanenrice - - -
Kazakhstan Casahland
Casahcirgisland
- - -
Kyrghizia Sweartcirgisland - - -
Korea Corea
Ceosun
- - -
Kuwait Cuwægt - - -
Laos Laoland - - -
Lebanon Libanus Libanus - -
Malaysia Malægland - - -
Maldives Maldifiege - - -
Nepal Nepal - - -
Oman Oman - - -
Pakistan Pacstan - - -
Philippines Philippesiege - - -
Qatar Cætar - - -
Russia Russland - - Garðarriki
Rússland
Saudi Arabia Seowdingarice - - -
Seychelles Segscel-iege - - -
Singapore Singapurieg - - -
Sri Lanka Taprabane Taprabane
Deprobane
- -
Syria Syria - Syria -
Tajikistan Tacgicland - - -
Thailand Tægland - - -
Turkey Turcland - - -
Turkmenistan Turcmenland - - -
U A Emirates Þa Geanlæcannedu Arabisciu Bregoriciu - - -
Uzbekistan Usbecland - - -
Vietnam Figetnam
Figetnaland
- - -
Yemen Gemen
Bliða Arabealand
- - -

AfricaEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
AFRICA Affrica Affrica - -
Algeria Algierrice - - -
Angola Angola - - -
Benin Dahomeg - - -
Botswana Becywanaland
Batswanaland
- - -
Burkina Byrcuina
Heah Folta
- - -
Burundi Burudaland - - -
Cameroon Camerun - - -
Cape Verde Grænnæssege - - -
Centrafrica þæt Middelaffricisce Rice - - -
Chad Ceadd - - -
Comores Comores-iege - - -
Congo, Dem. Rep. Micel Congo - - -
Congolese Rep. Lytel Congo - - -
Côte d'Ivoire Elpendbanmearc - - -
Djibouti Cibutig - - -
Egypt Egypt Ægyptus
Egyptus
Egypta land
Egypt
-
Equ. Guinea Middlegyrdles Gini - - -
Eritrea Æriþrealand - - -
Ethiopia Sigelwaraland Æthiopia
Sigelwara
Sigelhearwa
Blökkmanland
Gambia Gambia - - -
Ghana Goldmearc - - -
Guinea Gini - - -
Guinea-Bissau - - - -
Kenya Kenia - - -
Lesotho Basutaland - - -
Liberia Liberia - - -
Libya Libia Libia - -
Madagascar Madagascar - - -
Malawi Nyasaland
Malawig
- - -
Mali Malig - - -
Mauritania Suð-Mauretania
Mauretania (Morrocco)
- -
Mauritius Mauritius-ieg - - -
Morocco Maroc Mauretania Mauretania -
Mozambique Mosambice - - -
Namibia Namibland - - -
Niger Niger - - -
Nigeria Nigerealand - - -
Rwanda Rwanda - - -
Sahara Þæt Deadwylle Sand Þæt Deadwylle Sand - -
Sao Tome e Pr. Sancte Tomas and Æþelingesieg - - -
Senegal Senegal - - -
Sierra Leone Sigeraland
Leosbeorgeland
- - -
Somalia Somalaland - - -
South Africa Suðaffrica - - -
South Sudan Suðsudan
Cuscland
- - -
Sudan Sudan - - -
Swaziland Swasaland - - -
Tanzania Tansania - - -
Togo Togoland - - -
Tunisia Tunisland - - -
Uganda Ugandaland - - -
Zambia Norðroðosland
Sambealand
- - -
Zimbabwe Suðroðosland
Simbabwarice
- - -

The Pacific OceanEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
THE PACIFIC Sericus garsecg Garcsecg se hatt Sericus - -
Australia Australia
Þæt Micle Suðe Land
- - -
Fiji Ficgiege - - -
Kiribati Gilbert-iege - - -
Marshall Is. Marescealh Iege - - -
Nauru Nauru - - -
New Zealand þæt Niwe Sæland - - -
Papua New Guinea Niwginirice - - -
Samoa Samoga - - -
Solomon Islands Salomanesiege - - -
Tonga Tongaland - - -
Tuvalu Tufalu
Ellisiege
- - -
Vanuatu Ða Niwe Suðeriege - - -

AmericaEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
AMERICA Seo Niwe Woruld
America
- - Vinland

North AmericaEdit

North America Norþamerica
Winland
- - -
Canada Canada - - Markland ?
Vinland ?
Mexico Megico - - -
United States of America Geanlæceda Riciu American
oððe ..Þara Niwan Worulda
Gadertange Riciu Winlandes
- - -

Central AmericaEdit

Central America Middelamerica - - -
Costa Rica Rice Strand - - -
El Salvador Hælendesland - - -
Guatemala Gwatemala - - -
Honduras Onduras - - -
Panama Panamaland - - -
Nicaragua Nicoragwa
Nicorwæter
- - -

South AmericaEdit

Argentina Argentina - - -
Bolivia Bolifia - - -
Brazil Brasil - - -
Colombia Colombia - - -
Ecuador Ecwador - - -
Falkland Islands Folcland Iege - - -
Guyana Giana - - -
Paraguay Paragwæg - - -
Peru Peru - - -
Surinam Surinam - - -
Uruguay Yrugwæg - - -
Venezuela Feneswela - - -

The West IndiesEdit

Antigua & Barbuda Antigga 7 Barbuda - - -
Aruba Aruba - - -
Bahamas Bæhama-iege
Bahamaland
- - -
Barbados Barbados - - -
Belize Belis - - -
Bermuda Someres-iege - - -
British Virgin Is. Ða Brettiscu Fæmna Iege - - -
Cayman Is. Cægmann Iege - - -
Cuba Cuba - - -
Dominica Dominca-ieg - - -
Dominican Rep. Sanctes Dominices Land - - -
Grenada Grenada - - -
Haiti Ægisieg - - -
Jamaica Ciamægca - - -
NL Antilles Niþerlendisc Antilliege - - -
St Kitts & Nevis Sanctes Christopheres Ieg 7 Nefis - - -
St Lucia Sancte Lucie Ieg - - -
St Vincent Sanctes Uincentes Ieg - - -
Trinidad & Tobago Þrines 7 Tobago - - -
Turks & Caicos Turcas 7 Cægcas Iege - - -

The seasEdit

Modern English Invented / Adopted Ælfred's Orosius Chronicle / Poems etc Old Norse
The Seas Se Sæ
Brime
. . .
Aegean Sea Egisca sæ Egisca sæ
Egeum
- -
Atlantic Ocean Westsæ Westsæ Westsæ -
Arctic Ocean Sarmondisc garsecg garsecg þe mon hateð Sarmondisc - -
Baltic Sea Ostsæ Ostsæ - -
Barants Sea Barentssæ - -
Black Sea Euxinus Euxinus - -
Bristol Channel Sæfernmuþa - Sæfernmuþa
Norþsæ
-
Straits of Dover - - -
English Channel Suþsæ garsceg mon hæt Brettisc Suþsæ -
Straits of Gibraltar Norfasund - - Norvasund
Indian Ocean Indisca garsecg garsceg mon hæt Indisca - -
Irish Sea Westsæ - Westsæ -
Mediterranean Sea Wendelsæ Wendelsæ Wendelsæ -
North Sea - - Eastsæ -
Pacific Ocean Sericus garsecg garsecg mon hæt Sericus - -
Red Sea Reada Sæ Se Reada Sæ - -
South Seas Suþgarsecg - - -
White Sea Cwensæ Cwensæ - -

An explanationEdit

Many of the foreign lands our ancestors knew a thousand years ago are still known to us. France, Germany, Italy and all the Scandinavian lands were known then as now and called much the same names. Spain was familiar, though its political position and it borders have much altered. (A thousand years ago Spain was divided between the Moors and various Christian kingdoms, but it was all "Spain", including what we now call Portugal.) Poland and Wendland (or Weonodland) are much the same. Persia, Persealand, is the same, even if we now tend to call it "Iran". (Persia was always called "Iran" in its native tongue: it has not changed its name in four millennia, let alone one.)

Many now seek to write modern works in Old English. How do you write about events in Afghanistan when Afghanistan was not known to the speakers of that Englisc? The land was there of course: it did not rise out of the sea in in 1800. It had no one name though a thousand years ago. What of Iraq? Modern Iraq was created after the Great War ended in 1918, but the name existed in King Alfred's day. "Irak" then was much the same as Iraq today. English travellers to the region (we know there were some) would have heard the name. However there is no record in Englisc.

One cannot compare old with new too readily. Roman Helvetia might be in the same place as Switzerland but it is not the same state or nation. Switzerland was a deliberate, artificial creation at a fixed date in the Middle Ages. Romania and Datia are not quite the same. Or are they?

It all becomes subjunctive: I have invented names where there are none known or where there cannot be any genuine Old English name. In Africa many of the countries have (or did have) names given to them by Britons; names first given in English. Those can be adopted as the earliest English name known. However if those explorers had been speaking Old English rather than Modern English, with its very different grammar, then they would have framed the names differently. It is a case of "Were it that an Anglo-Saxon had come across this land what would he have called it? (I knew a professor who often retorted to silly questions "If I had a brother, would he like fish?") It is a nonsense if you look at it seriously. However as an intellectual game it is a good and worthy thing. I take it as a game.

Think of all those scholars who have for a thousand years invented new Latin names for things, and for places. The Romans did not call Poland "Polonia". However, as the scholars would tell you, had there been a Poland at the time the Latin tongue might have rendered it thus, so all Latin texts since the Middle Ages have given it that name. "Polonia" is indeed Latin for Poland.

Applying that to Old English; the Sotho people in their own language call themselves in the plural "Basutu" (or so it is pronounced), so if an Old English speaker had first come them would he have called them "Basute" and their land "Basutaland"? (The Modern English called it "Basutoland", now known by the native "Lesotho".) Across the world, "Fiji" is a native name. An ear listening in Old English would hear it end with a syllable that might almost be written as "iege" ("islands"), which is appropriate. The name would be rendered "Ficg Iege" or "Ficgiege". And so it goes on. Please do not think too harshly of me for this.

In any choosing of names there is a capricious element. If there is an element of satire, so be it. I am making the world look right to the eyes of the Anglecynn. What could be more British, or indeed Englisc?

References Edit

  1. Mægþa lond is uncertain of meaning
  2. Speonland is suggested but inauthentic as far as am aware