ALBION (in Ptolemy 'Alouion; Lat. Albion, Pliny
4.16,102), the most ancient name of the British Islands,
though generally restricted to England. The name is perhaps
of Celtic origin, but the Romans took it as connected
with albus, white, in reference to the chalk-cliffs of
Dover, and A. Holder (Alt-Keltischer Sprachschatz,
unhesitatingly translates it Weissland,
The early writer (6th cent. B.C.) whose periplus is
translated by Avienus (end of 4th cent. A.D.) does not
use the name Britannia; he speaks of nesos 'Iernon kai
("island of the Ierni and the Albiones"). So
Pytheas of Massilia (4th cent. B.C.) speaks of "Albion
and 'Ierne." From the fact that there was a tribe called
the Albiones on the north coast ot Spain in Asturia, some
scholars have placed Albion in that neighbourhood (see G. F.
Unger, Rhein. Mus. xxxviii., 1883, pp. 156-196). The name
Albion was taken by medieval writers from Pliny and Ptolemy.
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