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Western Annals (Latin: annāles, from annus, “year”) are a concise historical record in which events are arranged chronologically, year by year.

After the Council of Nicaea in 325, Easter tables were created using different methods for calculating Easter, extending years into the future. Monks in Ireland, Wales, and England began adding marginal notes about significant events to these tables in the 7th century. This practice evolved into compiling annals, primarily undertaken by monks, with the earliest known example being the Chronicle of Ireland.

However, not all annals were produced by monks; some were created with royal support. Examples include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which focuses on royal activities, and other insular annals such as the Annals of the Four Masters, the Annals of Ulster, the Annals of Innisfallen, and the Annals of Wales (Annales Cambriæ).

The monastic origins of these annals mean that in Western Europe the earliest records of early medieval activity come from the areas indicated in the map below.

Spread of Christianity by c. 800
image: Utah State University

Merovingian Easter table
image:Bibliothèque nationale de France

The entry for the year 432 in the Annals of the Four Masters, one of the works which is descended from the Chronicle of Ireland.
image: Wikimedia