The earliest written records of Ireland come from classical Greco-Roman geographers. Ptolemy in his Almagest refers to Ireland asMikra Brettania (Little Britain), in contrast to the larger island, which he called Megale Brettania (Great Britain). In his later work,Geography, Ptolemy refers to Ireland as Iouernia and to Great Britain as Albion. These “new” names were likely to have been the Celtic names for the islands at the time. The earlier names, in contrast, were likely to have been coined before direct contact with local peoples was made.
The Romans would later refer to Ireland by this name too in its Latinised form, Hibernia, or Scotia. Ptolemy records sixteen nations inhabiting every part of Ireland in 100 AD. The relationship between the Roman Empire and the tribes of ancient Ireland is unclear. However, a number of finds of Roman coins have been made, for example at Newgrange.