BRITAIN (Gr. Πρετανικαὶ νῆσοι, Βρεττανία; Lat. Britannia, rarely Brittania), the anglicized form of the classical name of England, Wales and Scotland, sometimes extended to the British Isles as a whole (Britannicae Insulae). The Greek and Roman forms are doubtless attempts to reproduce a Celtic original, the exact form of which is still matter of dispute. Brittany (Fr. Bretagne) in western France derived its name from Britain owing to migrations in the 5th and 6th century A.D. The personification of Britannia as a female figure may be traced back as far as the coins of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius (early 2nd century A.D.); its first appearance on modern coins is on the copper of Charles II. (see Numismatics).
In what follows, the archaeological interest of early Britain is dealt with, in connexion with the history of Britain in Pre-Roman, Roman, and Anglo-Saxon days; this account being supplementary to the articles England; English History; Scotland, &c.