Many Americans think that Scotland Yard is a detective force serving all of Britain, a kind of English FBI. But it isn’t. Scotland Yard is actually the name of a branch of the London police force, and it most often does not get involved in police cases outside the area of London.
In the 10th century, King Edgar of England gave the King of Scotland a piece of land in London. The Scottish king promised he would build a house there and visit London at least once a year.
But in the 12th century, the Scottish people revolted against England, and the English king took back the land in London from the Scottish king. The house that had been built there gradually fell into ruin.
By the time James I became king of both England and Scotland in 1603, the plot of land had become known as “Scotland” to the people of London. During James’s reign, the site was divided into two plots, or “yards,” called Great Scotland Yard and Middle Scotland Yard, and government buildings were constructed there.
Then in 1662, the London police set up their office in Scotland Yard, and Londoners soon began calling the police department “Scotland Yard.”