Лекция 1 | Geography and Prehistory


I) 1) The parts of the country and their symbols

2) The nature

II) 1) The parts of the country and their symbols

It is well known that Britain is situated on the British Isles.

But how many are they?

The British Isles are composed of about 4000 islands of different size.

Name correctly (as it is called in Geography) the biggest of the British Isles — Great Britain. You may know it from the full name of the state — «The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland»[1]

The second largest island of the British Isles is Ireland. It is shared by two separate and independent states. The lager part of Ireland is the Republic of Ireland, an independent state with capital in DublinNorthern Ireland, which occupies north-eastern part of the island, remains a part of the United Kingdom. Its main city is Belfast.

The main city of Scotland is Edinburgh, and of Wales is Cardiff.

Northern IrelandBelfast

The third bigisland is the Isle of White to the South of Great Britain. The fourth is the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Formally it is not the part of the United Kingdom, it is dependency of the Crown. The fifth is the Isle of Anglesey. In ancient times the heads of the Celtic tribes used to gather there. It was a kind of a capital.

The biggest islands – G B, Ireland, White, Man, Anglesey

The British Isles have the continental origin. The prooves are

1 — the remains of elephants and other extinct species the same in Britain and on the continent

2 — The form of the eastern British coast match the form of the western French coast. And both coasts have chalk cliffs.

Britain separated from the continent 6000 years ago

We call the whole country Britain or Great Britain. Вut this name appeared rather late. When the scottish king James I was proclaimed also the King of England in the beginning of the XVII two countries needed a common name. And the Union of two countries got the name of Great Britain.

Historically and administratively the country consists of the four parts England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (you should be able to show them on the map).

The river of the Severn marks the border between England and WalesScotlandis separated by Cheviot Hills.

Each part of the United Kingdom has its own symbol.

Emblems of the four countries

the countrythe emblemthe reason
Englandthe red rose with white petalsThe Lancastrians won, their emblem dominated
Scotlandthe thistlethe enemy stepped, the Scots awake and won
Walesthe leek (daffodil)St David ate only leek and bread
Irelandthe shamrockthe doctrine of the Trinity was preached with it for the pagan people

The red rose became the emblem of England after the Wars of the Roses, which was the war of two dynasties for the English throne. The Lancastrian emblem was the red rose, the York’s emblem was the white rose. In the end the Lancastrian prince married the York princess. Since that the red rose with white petals has become the emblem of England.

The thistle[2], emblem of Scotland, was chosen, as legend says, because it saved the country from the enemy. In ancient times the Norsemen invaded Scotland. The Scots didn’t expect the enemy before the next day; they were tired after a long march and were resting. The Norsemen saw that no one protected the camp so they decided to attackOn coming quite near they took off their shoes not to make noise. But one of the Norsemen stepped on a thistle and cried with pain. The alarm was given in the Scots camp and the Norsemen were put to flight. Thankful Scots chose the thistle as their emblem.

  1. leek was chosen the emblem of Wales to memorize St. David. On the legend he lived for several years on bread and wild leeks. In nowadays some people consider leeks to be vulgar. Instead of the leek they wear daffodil on the 1st of March, St. David’s day. It flowers close to that day.

The emblem of Ireland is the shamrock (a little white clover with three leaves). It is worn in memory of Ireland‘s patron saint Patrick , who when preaching the doctrine of the Trinity to the pagan Irish used the shamrock as an illustration of the idea.

2) The nature

Great Britain is a great sea country. It is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, north-west and south-west. It is separated from Europe by the North Seathe Straits of Dover[3] and the English Channel or La Munched — French name which means “a sleeve”. On the west Great Britain is separated from Ireland by the Irish Sea and the North Channel.

The seas surrounding the British Isles are rather shallow — about 90 m.

1 — On the one hand the shallow waters provide excellent conditions for fishing

2 – On the other hand it is a very dangerous situation for the navigation

The English Channel which separates Great Britain from France is only 36 km at its narrowest point. One can see the white cliffs of Dover from the French coast on a clear day.

The English Channel is one of the busiest and at the same time most dangerous places for navigation in the world[4]. There is a huge sand mountain called the Goodwin Sands in the Channel. The mountain of sand constantly moves and sucks ships into it

The English Channel, the Strait of Dover and the Northern sea are called “Shallow seas», they are good for fishing and dangerous for navigation, especially the Goodwin Sands

A lot of swimmers tried to cross the Channel. It is difficult because of the strong currents. The attempts to avoid them double the distance. The first person to cross the Channel was Matthew Webb in 1875. It took him about 22 hours to land in France. Since then almost 4000 people have tried, but less than 400 have succeeded.

The idea of a tunnel under the sea between Britain and France appeared about 200 years ago. Even Napoleon had a plan to dig a tunnel and conquer England. The plan wasn’t realized.

In 1881 two Englishmen tried to dig a tunnel from Britain. They dug 6 km into the Channel. But Queen Victoria stopped them saying it was dangerous to have a link with France.

The tunnel was really built by the English-French compony and was opened in 1994. It took 10 years to build it. Now it takes about 20 minutes to get England from France and vice versa.

British nature is considered to be beautiful because of its variety. Britain hasn’t anything specific in its relief, waters or plants. But taken altogether it demonstrate a great difference.

Britain is divided in lowland and highland and demonstrates a great variety of nature.

The highland occupies mostly the north and west of Great Britain. In Wales the mountain range of The Cambrians is running. Its highest point is Snowdon — 1085 m above sea level, it’s not much for a mountain. But the first men to conquer Everest Edmund Hillary trained in Snowdonia.

The Scottish Highlands are the highest in the country. Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain is 1343 m. The peculiar feature of The Scottish Highlands are moorlands[5]. As you know Scottish men traditionally wear skirts. They are not long, up to the knees. They are called kilts. Here is one of the explanations of the tradition. It was difficult to move along the moorland wearing trousers. The moor touched them and prevented walking. That’s why the Scotts preferred skirts.

There are the Cumbrians in Wales and the Scottish Highlands, Ben Nevis is the highest. Moorlands made the Scots wear kilts.

The rivers of Britain are very short. The most important rivers are the Severn and the Thames.

The longest river is the Severn

Let’s go to the famous English weather. Englishmen often say «We have no climate, only weather«. It means that weather is extremely changeable in Britain. Periods of settled weather are rare[6].

The most unusual nature is in the peninsula of Cornwall. The Gulf stream runs along it and makes climate milder and warmer. People never see snow there. Subtropical flowers, fruit and trees grow there near pines and birches.

In the peninsula of Cornwall subtropical plants grow with pines and birches.


I) 1) The most ancient inhabitants

2) Megaliths and Stonehenge

II) 1) The most ancient inhabitants

The British territory was a part of the continent. It separated only 6000 years ago. Humans settled here long before the islands broke away from the continent of Europe. First people appeared at the British territory 250 000 (two hundred fifty thousand) years ago. They weren’t humans of modern appearance, Homo Sapience Sapience. They were Homo Sapience Neanderthals.

The exploration oftheir graves in the south of England showed the menu of the first Englishman. The bones were found including those of elephants, rhinoceroses[7], and lions.

Since that time many waves of settlers appeared in Britain attracted by its dense forests rich with game.

About 6000 years ago, when the British Islands separated the Neolithic Age started. The main features of it — crop-growing and cattle-breeding. Before it gathering plants and hunting were the only ways of getting food. The Paleolithic man took the ready product from the nature. And Neolithic man produced himself. That situation had changed the life greatly. People started a settled life.

The new culture was brought by the so called Iberians — people who had sailed from the Pyrenees[8] peninsula (modern Spain). The other version tells that they came from Africa.

They buried their dead in long barrows, in which several bodies were laid. These type long barrows are found all over southern England.

First people appeared at the British territory 250 000 years ago.A 6000 years ago the Neolithic Age started. The main features of it are crop-growing and cattle-breeding. The new culture was brought by the so Iberians from Spain

Britain was invaded many times since then. It was inhabited by the Celts, Romans, Germans. And the English, the Scots and the Irish thought themselves to be the descendants of different peoples. But not long ago the genetic research was done in Oxford University of molecular biology. It has shown that the main part of the British population are the descendants of its Neolithic inhabitants, the so called Iberians

[1] the country has acquired its official name since 1922

[2] фисл

[3] доувэ

[4] Half of all the world’s ship collisions take place between the western end of the Channel and the Baltic

[5] м’уэлaнд

[6] temperate climate

[7] райн’осэрэс

[8] пиеринес

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