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Thread: Everything You Know About British and Irish Ancestry is Wrong

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    Everything You Know About British and Irish Ancestry is Wrong

    Stephen Oppenheimer's books "The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story" and "Out of Eden: The
    Peopling of the World" are published by Constable & Robinson

    Everything you know about British and Irish ancestry is wrong. Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts
    were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands

    Read Stephen Oppenheimer's follow-up to this article here, in the June 2007 edition of Prospect, as he answers some of the
    many comments and queries readers have sent in response to his analysis.


    The fact that the British and the Irish both live on islands gives them a misleading sense of security about their unique
    historical identities. But do we really know who we are, where we come from and what defines the nature of our genetic and
    cultural heritage? Who are and were the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish and the English? And did the English really crush a
    glorious Celtic heritage?

    Everyone has heard of Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. And most of us are familiar with the idea that the English are
    descended from Anglo-Saxons, who invaded eastern England after the Romans left, while most of the people in the rest of the
    British Isles derive from indigenous Celtic ancestors with a sprinkling of Viking blood around the fringes.

    Yet there is no agreement among historians or archaeologists on the meaning of the words "Celtic" or "Anglo-Saxon."
    What is more, new evidence from genetic analysis (see note below) indicates that the Anglo-Saxons and Celts, to the extent
    that they can be defined genetically, were both small immigrant minorities. Neither group had much more impact on the British
    Isles gene pool than the Vikings, the Normans or, indeed, immigrants of the past 50 years.

    The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of our ancestors came to this corner of Europe as hunter-gatherers,
    between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, after the melting of the ice caps but before the land broke away from the mainland and
    divided into islands. Our subsequent separation from Europe has preserved a genetic time capsule of southwestern Europe
    during the ice age, which we share most closely with the former ice-age refuge in the Basque country. The first settlers were
    unlikely to have spoken a Celtic language but possibly a tongue related to the unique Basque language.

    Another wave of immigration arrived during the Neolithic period, when farming developed about 6,500 years ago. But the
    English still derive most of their current gene pool from the same early Basque source as the Irish, Welsh and Scots. These
    figures are at odds with the modern perceptions of Celtic and Anglo-Saxon ethnicity based on more recent invasions. There
    were many later invasions, as well as less violent immigrations, and each left a genetic signal, but no individual event
    contributed much more than 5 per cent to our modern genetic mix.


    Many myths about the Celts

    Celtic languages and the people who brought them probably first arrived during the Neolithic period. The regions we now
    regard as Celtic heartlands actually had less immigration from the continent during this time than England. Ireland, being to the
    west, has changed least since the hunter-gatherer period and received fewer subsequent migrants (about 12 per cent of the
    population) than anywhere else. Wales and Cornwall have received about 20 per cent, Scotland and its associated islands 30
    per cent, while eastern and southern England, being nearer the continent, has received one third of its population from outside
    over the past 6,500 years. These estimates, set out in my book The Origins of the British, come from tracing individual male
    gene lines from continental Europe to the British Isles and dating each one (see box at bottom of page).

    If the Celts were not our main aboriginal stock, how do we explain the wide historical distribution and influence of Celtic
    languages? There are many examples of language change without significant population replacement; even so, some people
    must have brought Celtic languages to our isles. So where did they come from, and when?

    The orthodox view of the origins of the Celts turns out to be an archaeological myth left over from the 19th century. Over
    the past 200 years, a myth has grown up of the Celts as a vast, culturally sophisticated but warlike people from central Europe,
    north of the Alps and the Danube, who invaded most of Europe, including the British Isles, during the iron age, around 300
    BC.

    Central Europe during the last millennium BC certainly was the time and place of the exotic and fierce Hallstatt culture
    and, later, the La Tène culture, with their prestigious, iron-age metal jewellery wrought with intricately woven swirls. Hoards
    of such jewellery and weapons, some fashioned in gold, have been dug up in Ireland, seeming to confirm central Europe as the
    source of migration. The swirling style of decoration is immortalised in such cultural icons as the Book of Kells, the
    illuminated Irish manuscript (Trinity College, Dublin), and the bronze Battersea shield (British Museum), evoking the western
    British Isles as a surviving remnant of past Celtic glory. But unfortunately for this orthodoxy, these artistic styles spread
    generally in Europe as cultural fashions, often made locally. There is no evidence they came to Britain and Ireland as part of an
    invasion.

    Many archaeologists still hold this view of a grand iron-age Celtic culture in the centre of the continent, which shrank to a
    western rump after Roman times. It is also the basis of a strong sense of ethnic identity that millions of members of the
    so-called Celtic diaspora hold. But there is absolutely no evidence, linguistic, archaeological or genetic, that identifies the
    Hallstatt or La Tène regions or cultures as Celtic homelands. The notion derives from a mistake made by the historian
    Herodotus 2,500 years ago when, in a passing remark about the "Keltoi," he placed them at the source of the Danube, which he
    thought was near the Pyrenees. Everything else about his description located the Keltoi in the region of Iberia.

    The late 19th-century French historian Marie Henri d'Arbois de Jubainville decided that Herodotus had meant to place the
    Celtic homeland in southern Germany. His idea has remained in the books ever since, despite a mountain of other evidence
    that Celts derived from southwestern Europe. For the idea of the south German "Empire of the Celts" to survive as the
    orthodoxy for so long has required determined misreading of texts by Caesar, Strabo, Livy and others. And the well-recorded
    Celtic invasions of Italy across the French Alps from the west in the 1st millennium BC have been systematically reinterpreted
    as coming from Germany, across the Austrian Alps.

    De Jubainville's Celtic myth has been deconstructed in two recent sceptical publications: The Atlantic Celts: Ancient
    People or Modern Invention by Simon James (1999), and The Celts: Origins, Myths and Inventions by John Collis (2003).
    Nevertheless, the story lingers on in standard texts and notably in The Celts, a Channel 4 documentary broadcast in February.
    "Celt" is now a term that sceptics consider so corrupted in the archaeological and popular literature that it is worthless.

    This is too drastic a view. It is only the central European homeland theory that is false. The connection between modern
    Celtic languages and those spoken in southwest Europe during Roman times is clear and valid. Caesar wrote that the Gauls
    living south of the Seine called themselves Celts. That region, in particular Normandy, has the highest density of ancient Celtic
    place-names and Celtic inscriptions in Europe. They are common in the rest of southern France (excluding the formerly
    Basque region of Gascony), Spain, Portugal and the British Isles. Conversely, Celtic place-names are hard to find east of the
    Rhine in central Europe.

    Given the distribution of Celtic languages in southwest Europe, it is most likely that they were spread by a wave of
    agriculturalists who dispersed 7,000 years ago from Anatolia, travelling along the north coast of the Mediterranean to Italy,
    France, Spain and then up the Atlantic coast to the British Isles. There is a dated archaeological trail for this. My genetic
    analysis shows exact counterparts for this trail both in the male Y chromosome and the maternally transmitted mitochondrial
    DNA right up to Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and the English south coast.

    Further evidence for the Mediterranean origins of Celtic invaders is preserved in medieval Gaelic literature. According to
    the orthodox academic view of "iron-age Celtic invasions" from central Europe, Celtic cultural history should start in the
    British Isles no earlier than 300 BC. Yet Irish legend tells us that all six of the cycles of invasion came from the Mediterranean
    via Spain, during the late Neolithic to bronze age, and were completed 3,700 years ago.
    I read this article two weeks ago, it say that the British and Irish ancestors
    were Basques, not Celts.

    Click the link for more reading http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/p...le.php?id=7817
    Jeg er over gjennomsnittet bitter, og liker stort sett ingen andre enn meg selv


  2. #2
    Senior Member Eburos's Avatar
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    It has been stated by many here at skadi that there is no Aryan race, then for argument sake why should there be such a thing as a Celtic race.

    It seems to me that the Irish, native Britons, Welsh and Scots are very Celtic culturally.

    Does that mean they must be immitators?

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    Quote Originally Posted by blood eagle View Post
    It has been stated by many here at skadi that there is no Aryan race, then for argument sake why should there be such a thing as a Celtic race.
    One is a fantasy creation which has been largely refuted by so many that it is simply amazing that people even still refer to the term, whilst the other is one based in solid ground.

    Aryans? Who are they? Not Europeans at any rate.

    Quote Originally Posted by blood eagle View Post
    It seems to me that the Irish, native Britons, Welsh and Scots are very Celtic culturally.
    You forget the Cornish and to a large extent the English.

    Quote Originally Posted by blood eagle View Post
    Does that mean they must be immitators?
    No. British/Irish people are indigenous people. In years past they simply adapted to a Celtic culture.

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    Senior Member Eburos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acwellan View Post
    You forget the Cornish and to a large extent the English.



    No. British/Irish people are indigenous people. In years past they simply adapted to a Celtic culture.
    Duhhh!
    You missed my point entirely on the issue! The article claimed the Irish, ect.. were not really celtic.
    I simply asked the question, "Was there a Celtic Race".

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    1. Genotype -> 2. Race -> 3. Language/Culture

    Celtic is not a race, and Celtic is not a gene, so it must be a culture based on language. Such cultures in turn originate from other cultures, maintained by a people that may well consist of several races, like Germanics do now.

    One also has to keep in mind that categorising a people is often not just descriptive, but also normative. It expresses that this people should be Germanic (again), or whatever else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blood eagle View Post
    You missed my point entirely on the issue! The article claimed the Irish, ect.. were not really celtic.
    I didn't miss the point at all. If anything you missed the answer I committed to.

    Quote Originally Posted by blood eagle View Post
    I simply asked the question, "Was there a Celtic Race".
    No. Not in so much as there exists a race like 'whites', 'blacks', etc..., but in so much as ethnically cultural similarity.

    Aryans are the golden raspberry.
    Last edited by Hauke Haien; Tuesday, April 14th, 2009 at 02:17 AM. Reason: ad hominem

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