The word shire is of Old English origin and meant office, charge, administration. The Norman Conquest introduced the word county through French from the Latin comitatus which in mediaeval documents designates the shire. County is the district ruled by a count, the king's comes, the equivalent of the older English term earl. This system of local administration entered Scotland as part of the Anglo-Norman influence that strongly affected our country after the year 1100. Our shires differ in origin, and arise from a combination of causes geographical, political and ecclesiastical.