NIGHTBRINGER | The Arthurian Encyclopedia


Albion – the Old Name of Britain

The oldest recorded name for the island of Britain, appearing in Roman documents several centuries before Christ. The term “Albion” was used by the ancient Greeks to describe the island. It appears in the works of ancient writers like Ptolemy and Pliny the Elder. In these early references, “Albion” was used to denote the British Isles, and it was likely derived from a Celtic or pre-Celtic word for the island.

It is often associated with the island’s ancient and mythical history and has been used by poets and writers to evoke a sense of tradition, heritage, and the island’s legendary past.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth and other chroniclers, Albion was populated by a race of giants, whom Brutus conquered. Brutus then gave the island his own name: Britain.

As for the race of giants, we find in Palamedes that they were descended from Albine, an exiled Syrian princess, after whom the island was named. The fourteenth-century Short Metrical Chronicle credits the name to the giant Albin, who, like Albine, fathered the giant race conquered by Brutus.

Albion – the Legendary Giant

The concept of Albion has roots in ancient British and Celtic mythology, as well as in later folklore and literary traditions. Albion is often depicted as a mythical or legendary figure associated with the British Isles, particularly England. in some traditions, he is described as a giant or seagiant, symbolizing the strength and maritime heritage of the British people.

Albion is typically portrayed as a benevolent figure who has a special concern for the people of England. He is sometimes seen as a protective guardian or patron spirit, watching over the land and its inhabitants with care and affection.

The name “Albion” is believed to have ancient origins, possibly deriving from the Celtic word for “white” or “bright.” The Romans, upon encountering the inhabitants of the British Isles, may have interpreted the name as a reference to the white cliffs of Dover or other prominent geographical features.

Albion carries symbolic significance as a personification of England or the British nation. He represents themes of national identity, pride, and resilience, embodying the spirit of the land its people. Albion appears in various works of literature, poetry, and art throughout British history. He is often depicted in allegorical or symbolic contexts, serving as a powerful emblem of British heritage and cultural identity.

The concept of Albion continues to resonate in modern British culture, serving as a source of inspiration for artists, writers, and historians. His legacy is celebrated in folklore, historical narratives, and national symbols, reflecting the enduring influence of myth and legend on the British imagination.

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Roman de Brut | Wace, c. 1155
Palamedes | c. 1240
Short Metrical Chronicle | 1307