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Counties of Scotland - United Kingdom

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Historic Counties of Scotland

Scotland (Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a nation which is part of the United Kingdom.

A Scottish County was an important territorial political division. Many of the names of the Counties are suffixed by the word "shire" recording for posterity that they were once controlled on behalf of the sovereign by a 'Shire Reeve' or Sheriff. Many of the counties can trace their origin back around 1000 years to the time of the Conquest and the Doomsday Book of King William I. As a result of the Doomsday survey William granted much of the land to the control of his followers in his name and although the name 'County' could be connected to the fact that some of them were Counts most were actually Earls.

After the granting of the lands the Counts and Earls proceeded to build castles roughly in the centre of their new lands and it is around these castles that the county towns developed. Markets, Law Courts; originally within the castle as some still are, and other administrative services became established.

All counties represented the administrative sub divisions of the nation until the end of the Victorian period and many have continued to survive as Local Authority administrative areas to the present day. Counties themselves are further sub-divided into Boroughs and Districts some of which are Metropolitan Boroughs and Metropolitan Districts.


See also

Historic Counties of Scotland


The location on the map below is in [..]
Indicates an abolished County
Indicates unchanged (as near as can be established at this stage! CJB)

Bold, blue links are to those pages so far created - others will follow.

Map of Counties until 1890


  1. Caithness
  2. Sutherland
  3. Ross-shire
  4. Cromartyshire
  5. Inverness-shire
  6. Nairnshire
  7. Morayshire
  8. Banffshire
  9. Aberdeenshire
  10. Kincardineshire
  11. Angus
  12. Perthshire
  13. Argyll
  14. Bute
  15. Ayrshire
  16. Renfrewshire
  17. Dumbartonshire
  18. Stirlingshire
  19. Clackmannanshire
  20. Kinross-shire
  21. Fife
  22. West Lothian (Linlithgowshire)
  23. Midlothian (Edinburghshire)
  24. East Lothian (Haddingtonshire)
  25. Berwickshire
  26. Roxburghshire
  27. Dumfriesshire
  28. Kirkcudbrightshire
  29. Wigtownshire
  30. Lanarkshire
  31. Selkirkshire
  32. Peebles-shire Not shown:
  • Zetland (Shetland)
  • Orkney

Counties from 1890 to 1975

  • Aberdeenshire
  • Angus (Forfarshire until 1928)
  • Argyll
  • Ayrshire
  • Banffshire
  • Berwickshire
  • Caithness
  • Clackmannanshire
  • County of Bute
  • Dumfriesshire
  • Dunbartonshire
  • East Lothian (Haddingtonshire until 1921)
  • Fife
  • Inverness-shire
  • Kincardineshire
  • Kinross-shire
  • Kirkcudbrightshire
  • Lanarkshire
  • Midlothian (County of Edinburgh until 1890)
  • Nairnshire
  • Orkney
  • Peebles-shire
  • Perthshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • Ross and Cromarty
  • Roxburghshire
  • Selkirkshire
  • Stirlingshire
  • Sutherland
  • West Lothian (Linlithgowshire until 1924)
  • Wigtownshire
  • Zetland

Council Areas Today

❋ are New areas

  • Aberdeen City
  • Aberdeenshire

The present day Aberdeenshire council area does not include the City of Aberdeen, now a separate council area, from which its name derives. Together, the modern council area and the city formed historic Aberdeenshire - one of the counties of Scotland formerly used for local government purposes.

  • Angus

The boundaries of the present council area are exactly the same as those of the old county minus the City of Dundee.

  • Argyll and Bute

The council area can be described also by reference to divisions of the counties which were abolished in 1975. The council area includes most of the county of Argyll (Argyll minus the Morvern area, north of Mull, which became part of the Highland region in 1975), part of the county of Bute (the Isle of Bute) and part of the county of Dunbartonshire (the Helensburgh and Lomond ward).

  • Clackmannanshire

The County of Clackmannan is one of Scotland's 33 historic local government counties, bordering on Perthshire, Stirlingshire and Fife. It was formed out of part of the north-western area of a territory anciently known as Ross.

  • Dumfries and Galloway

It resulted from a union of the historic " region of Galloway " - consisting of the counties of County of Dumfries (Dumfriesshire), Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire, hence "Dumfries and Galloway".

  • Dundee City

formerly part of Angus

  • East Ayrshire

With South Ayrshire and the mainland areas of North Ayrshire, it formed the former county of Ayrshire.

  • East Dunbartonshire

The council area covers part of the historic counties of Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire.

  • East Lothian

consisted of the local government county of East Lothian, until 1921 called Haddingtonshire, plus the burgh of Musselburgh and the Inveresk district council area, including the villages of Wallyford and Whitecraig, all formerly within the county of Midlothian.

  • East Renfrewshire

Until 1975 it formed part of the county of Renfrewshire for local government purposes along with the modern council areas of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. Although no longer a local authority area, Renfrewshire still remains the registration county and lieutenancy area of East Renfrewshire.

  • City of Edinburgh
  • Falkirk

Prior to 1975 the majority of the council area was part of the county of Stirlingshire and a small part, namely Bo'ness and Blackness, was part of the former county of West Lothian.

  • Fife
  • Glasgow City
  • Highland

The Highland area covers most of the mainland and inner-Hebridean parts of the former counties of Inverness-shire and Ross and Cromarty, all of Caithness, Nairnshire and Sutherland and small parts of Argyll and Moray.

  • Inverclyde

Together with the East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire council areas, Inverclyde forms part of the historic county of Renfrewshire

  • Midlothian

formerly encompassed the city of Edinburgh, and within these borders still serves as a registration county.[1] As a result, the county was formerly known as Edinburghshire. It consisted of the local government county of Midlothian, minus the burgh of Musselburgh and Calder, Cramond, Currie and Inveresk areas.

  • Moray
  • North Ayrshire
  • North Lanarkshire

The council covers parts of the traditional counties of Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Stirlingshire.

  • Perth and Kinross

It corresponds broadly, but not exactly, with the former counties of Perthshire and Kinross-shire.

  • Renfrewshire

contained within the boundaries of the historic county of Renfrewshire, the others being East Renfrewshire to the east and Inverclyde to the west.

  • Scottish Borders

The area was created in 1975, by merging the former counties of Berwickshire, Peebles-shire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire and part of Midlothian,

  • South Ayrshire

covering the southern part of Ayrshire.

  • South Lanarkshire

includes part of the historic county of Lanarkshire.

  • Stirling

covers most of the former county of Stirling (except Falkirk) and the south-western portion of the former county of Perth. Both counties were abolished for local government purposes under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

  • West Dunbartonshire
  • West Lothian
  • Outer Hebrides Na h-Eileanan Siar

part of Inveress-shire and Ross & Cromarty

  • Orkney Islands
  • Shetland Islands

Largest cities or towns of Scotland

(In order of size according to population in 2010)

  1. Glasgow
  2. Edinburgh
  3. Aberdeen
  4. Dundee
  5. Paisley
  6. East Kilbride
  7. Livingston
  8. Hasmilton
  9. Cumbernauld
  10. Kirkcaldy
  11. Dunfermline
  12. Ayr
  13. Perth
  14. Inverness
  15. Kilmarnock
  16. Greenock
  17. Coatbridge
  18. Glenrothes
  19. Airdrie
  20. Falkirk

See also Scottish Clans

Genealogical Resources