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Thread: Genetic Britain: How Roman, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Genes Make Up the UK's DNA

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    Genetic Britain: How Roman, Viking and Anglo-Saxon Genes Make Up the UK's DNA

    Who are we? The genetic make-up of the British people is a hotly contested subject in academic and political circles. Britain has a tumultuous history that includes Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Roman invasions, but what legacy of these settlers and invaders remains in the DNA of Brits today? The BNP's Nick Griffin, who has recently gained a foothold in British politics, claimed recently to represent the "indiginous people" of Britain, comparing modern English, Scots, Irish and Welsh with the indiginous populations of North America and New Zealand.

    But today's Brit is a complex melting pot of influences. A revealing Channel 4 documentary in 2006 carried out genetic testing on eight people who believed themselves to be "100% English", and found them all to have a rich genetic heritage beyond their expectations. Advances in DNA profiling have enabled scientists and historians to probe the depths of British history in a new way. Can little strands of DNA tell us who are and where we came from? And how do these new approaches alter the established timeline of British history?


    The Science Bit

    The field of genetic research into ancestry is still in its infancy – although, as projects such as the human genome demonstrate, it is moving at a rate of knots. Wave after wave of Europeans came to displace the native Britons Geneticist Bryan Sykes - a human genetics professor at Oxford University and a science adviser to the British House of Commons - was one of the first people to successfully extract DNA from fossilised bones. In 1996, he dated a skeleton found in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset to around 7150BC.

    In the last 15 years scientists have adopted two key methods of tracing ancestry through DNA. Mitochondrial DNA can be used to unpick female ancestry, while Y-chromosomes can determine male lineage. When passed from father to son, the Y-chromosome is usually unchanged. However, over time, small variations occur – and these variations can be used to identify different population strands.


    Who Were the First Brits?

    Archaeological evidence near Lowestoft, Suffolk, indicates that the first human settlement in the British Isles was around 700,000 years ago, when – believe it or not – the climate was almost Mediterranean. Researchers on the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project at the Natural History Museum in London suggest there were seven failed attempts at human occupation in prehistoric times. Each time humans were beaten by changes in climate. Permanent settlement did not occur until after the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago.

    The traditional view of British history has generally held that the first inhabitants of the isles were the Celts, who were thought to have originated somewhere in central Europe. These original Britons were subjugated by the Romans then displaced by an influx of Anglo Saxons from Germany and Holland in the sixth and seventh centuries AD. Later invasions by the Vikings and the Normans further altered the local population.

    Recent research in genetics has found evidence to both support and disprove this traditional viewpoint. Broadly speaking, there are two main schools of thought – one argues that the British gene pool was profoundly affected by the influx of invaders; the other maintains that the British genetic make-up has changed little over time.


    Anglo Saxon Wipeout

    Not the name of a Dark Ages quiz show, but rather a theory used to assess the impact of the Anglo Saxons on Britain. The Roman occupation of Britain had a profound impact on trade, culture and technology, but saw little in the way of actual immigration. After the Roman withdrawal in around 400AD, Britain entered the Dark Ages – and found itself increasingly vulnerable to attack by outside forces. Wave after wave of Europeans came to displace the native Britons. The three main tribes were the Angles from Angeln in northern Germany, the Saxons from Lower Saxony, and the Jutes from the Jutland Peninsular.

    It is almost impossible to say how many Anglo Saxons arrived or how violent the clashes between natives and settlers were. Historical sources are limited to just a handful of scribes, most of them writing years after the event. The sixth-century cleric Gildas, for example, describes some of the battles between the Britons and the Anglo Saxons, but hard facts are in short supply Mass migration of Anglo Saxons would have ensured the dilution of the original British gene pool over the course of several centuries. What, then, can genetics tell us about the Anglo Saxon invasion?


    Mass Migration Event?

    A 2002 study at University College London (UCL) looked for evidence linking modern-day Brits to ancient Anglo Saxons. They compared the Y-chromosomes of present-day males in central England with those of men in Friesland, a Dutch province thought to be an Anglo Saxon homeland. The study found remarkable genetic similarities between the two populations and concluded that a ‘mass migration event’ must have occurred in the Dark Ages. In other words, a flood of Anglo Saxons came to dominate the English gene pool, stopping short at the Welsh border. (The same study found that despite thousands of years of shared history, there is a marked genetic dissimilarity between English and Welsh people.)

    In order to explain the wide genetic spread of the Anglo Saxons, it has been suggested the invading force must have numbered some 500,000 people – an enormous population movement for the time.


    Apartheid System

    Another UCL study in 2006 offered a different explanation. Anglo Saxons came to dominate the gene pool not through sheer weight of numbers but rather through their imposition of an ‘apartheid-style’ social hierarchy. The native Britons were reduced to second-class status and the Anglo Saxons enjoyed greater ‘reproductive success’; they had more babies, more often and more successfully than the subjugated, downtrodden Brits. The researchers cited examples of other apartheid systems throughout history in support of their theory, alongside fragmentary evidence that appears to show Anglo Saxon laws discriminated against native people. The UCL team theorised that a force of 200,000 invaders could have dominated the gene pool in just 15 generations.

    Other historical sources indicate that there was widespread Celtic migration away from Britain during the Dark Ages, as defeated Britons fled their lands to set up enclaves in Brittany (its name derived from Briton) and Galicia in Spain. The Celtic influence is still visible in the culture of these regions today. In addition, diseases such as the plague of Justinian may account for what historians believe was a significant population decrease in the Dark Ages. A combination of these factors, therefore, radically altered the make-up of the British population.

    The gene pool received new input with the arrival of the Vikings in the ninth century and the Normans in the eleventh. However, genetic researchers have yet to find a way of distinguishing between the Y-chromosomes of the Anglo Saxons and the later invaders – making it hard to say how much impact these groups had on the population.


    Basque Country?

    There are, however, high-profile voices that argue against the Anglo Saxon wipeout theory. Leading geneticists Bryan Sykes and Stephen Oppenheimer maintain that the British gene pool has remained largely unchanged since the first settlers arrived 12,000 years ago. Both writers refute the traditional view that the Celts originated in central Europe and insist that they hailed from the Iberian peninsular – specifically the Basque country. The Irish, the Welsh and people in the west of England have been found to share up to 80% genetic similarity with modern-day Basques, falling to around 65% in eastern parts of England where Anglo Saxon and Viking influence was greater.

    Oppenheimer goes further by questioning the notion that the British Isles were uniformly Celtic at the time of the Roman invasion. He has argued that the absence of Celtic words in English and the conspicuous lack of Celtic place names implies that England itself was not in fact a Celtic nation. The theory goes that, by the time the Romans arrived, southern England was occupied by Germanic-speaking tribes with connections to Belgic Gaul. Julius Caesar himself, on a fleeting visit in around 50BC, reported that the locals spoke a dialect similar to that of the Gauls.

    Oppenheimer’s reading of the genetic evidence also indicates there were people of Scandinavian origin living in northern and eastern Britain long before the Vikings invaded. Perhaps most important of all, Oppenheimer’s research on specific gene types has found that Anglo Saxon DNA contributed as little as five per cent to male lines, with virtually no evidence of it occurring in female lines. Any similarities between modern-day Britons and Anglo Saxons, he argues, can be attributed to common ancestors way back in the distant past.


    A Cultural Legacy

    If DNA cannot yet provide a definitive answer, historians must approach the problem from more traditional angles. Over the course of time, invaders left more than just a genetic stamp on the British Isles – they built towns and forts, changed the culture and radically transformed the language. The Romans founded London, built roads, baths and aqueducts, overhauled trade and introduced coinage. The Vikings brought with them words from Old Norse that remain in our language today – some of them tellingly aggressive (knife, ransack, die), some rather more elemental (husband, sky, bairn, get, call).

    The Normans had arguably the greatest impact, establishing one of the oldest monarchical lines in the word, overhauling the political and legal systems, and fusing French and English words together, as well as kick-starting a thousand-year rivalry with the Old Enemy.


    The Original Briton

    No study can ever fully measure the vast contributions made by each of these invading forces to the make-up of the British Isles - linguistically, culturally and genetically. The idea of the ‘original Briton’ may continue to obsess certain political elements, but it seems likely that he will remain as mythical as King Arthur – a Briton who would probably have his own things to say on Anglo Saxon wipeout. It is clear, then, that the answer to who we are lies as much beyond these sceptred isles as within them. Life here, it seems, began out there. As the UCL scientists Neil Bradman and Mark Thomas summarised in their study of the Y chromosome, “if we go back far enough, all men are not only born equal, but are paternally related.”


    Source: Original article with hyperlinks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fortress Germania View Post
    The Romans founded London
    Rubbish.

    Llyn-Celtic word for water,river,lake.

    Dun-Celtic word for fort,hill camp.

    Therefore fort by the river.

    The Romans settled there probably the same reason the Celts settled there...because it was a well chosen spot for trade and defence.
    They didnt found it.

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    Excellent contribution Fortress Germania!

    The people of Britain are a mixture of many European tribes/people, the first people coming from Iberia/Spain as recent studies show.
    I've always said this, as well the lack of emphasis placed on the Norman/French influence on Britain.

    (How ironic that the BNP leader Nick Griffin has a Norman/French surname!)


    Read 'Blood of the Isles' by Brian Sykes!

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    As genetic science advances, the facts will emerge. There have been many DNA studies, but you should notice Germanic scientists tend to conclude England is Germanic (Weile, Weiss, Wager, Badman, Thomas) and British/Basque scientists/historians tend to conclude England is British etc (Oppenheimer, Sykes). I.e. results tend to echo the ethnic group of the scientist/historian. There are as many histories as there are historians.

    This is the study I always cite:

    http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/10571/
    Y chromosome evidence for Anglo-Saxon mass migration

    Weale, ME and Weiss, DA and Jager, RF and Bradman, N and Thomas, MG (2002) Y chromosome evidence for Anglo-Saxon mass migration. MOL BIOL EVOL , 19 (7) , 1008 - 1021.

    Abstract

    British history contains several periods of major Cultural change. It remains controversial as to how much these periods coincided with substantial immigration from continental Europe. even for those that Occurred most recently. In this study, we examine genetic data for evidence of male immigration at particular times into Central England and North Wales. To do this, we used 12 biallelic polymorphisms and six microsatellite markers to define high-resolution Y chromosome haplotypes in a sample of 3 13 males from seven towns located along an east-west transect from East Anglia to North Wales. The Central English towns were genetically very similar, whereas the two North Welsh towns differed significantly both from each other and from the Central English towns. When we compared our data with an additional 177 samples collected in Friesland and Norway. We found that the Central English and Frisian samples were statistically indistinguishable. Using novel population genetic models that incorporate both mass migration and continuous gene flow, we conclude that these striking patterns are best explained by a substantial migration of Anglo-Saxon Y chromosomes into Central England (contributing 50%-100% to the gene pool Lit that time) but not into North Wales.

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    Actually these kind of articles are misleading as the genetic contributions from the Normans and Romans was less than 5% each (especially the Romans who barely register). And even then it varies in different nations e.g. England is 50-100% Anglo-Saxon whilst the Scot's have very little Anglo-Saxon blood.
    In fact it's likely that the Anglo-Saxons (and thus "England") came to exist in such large numbers because of an early 'apartheid-like' system that allowed them to take demographic control of England from the Celtic peoples.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...y-england.html

    In short: Wales, Scotland and Ireland are Celtic and England is Germanic.

    The Britain as a 'European melting pot' line is deliberately pushed and distorted with selective data by Liberal-Marxists to try and justify mass-immigration from the 3rd world. I've even heard British newspapers (sic) claim that Britain 'has always been multicultural' just because the bones of one African woman (even though race is just a 'social concept' right) were found in Britain and dated to the time of the Roman occupation.
    It was well known that the Romans used subjugated peoples as servants and laborers and hardly constitutes 'multiculturalism'; be it one or one hundred slaves/servants.

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    Who Were the First Brits?
    Basically on this topic virtually every early historical work is neglected.

    Gesta regum Anglorum by William of Malmesbury (1125)
    Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth (1136)
    Scotichronicon by Walter Bower (1447)
    Holinshed's Chronicles (1587)
    The History of Britain by John Milton (1670)

    Most these note that the indigenous inhabitants of Britain were a colony of a large or giant faired haired people from the Aegean Sea, particularly Samothrace.

    Holinshed's chronicle lists the following inhabitants of Britain:

    Samothes (Thracians from Samothrace) - pre-2000BC
    Magus
    Sarronius
    Druiyus
    Bardus
    Longho
    Bardus Junior
    Lucus
    Celtes
    Albion (invaded Samothea)
    Hercules (defeated Albion)
    Celtes (continued after defeat of Albion)
    Galates
    Harbon
    Lugdus
    Beligius
    Iasius
    Allobrox
    Romus
    Paris
    Lemanus
    Olbius
    Galates II
    Nannes
    Remis
    Francus
    Pictus
    Brutus (invaded and set up a new succession of kings) - 1103BC

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...ngs_of_Britain

    Brutus was a Trojan who descended from Aeneas.

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    I've even heard British newspapers (sic) claim that Britain 'has always been multicultural' just because the bones of one African woman (even though race is just a 'social concept' right) were found in Britain and dated to the time of the Roman occupation.
    I agree,it is Rubbish to call Britain multicutlral in the yeaster years.
    Even Germany had an nergo born in 1700's,and yet Germany aswell as Europe was deemed Whites Only,European policy.
    A few nergos here and there does not equal Multiculral.
    It was well known that the Romans used subjugated peoples as servants and laborers and hardly constitutes 'multiculturalism'; be it one or one hundred slaves/servants.
    Excatly! You beat me too it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fortress Germania View Post

    But today's Brit is a complex melting pot of influences. A revealing Channel 4 documentary in 2006 carried out genetic testing on eight people who believed themselves to be "100% English", and found them all to have a rich genetic heritage beyond their expectations.
    I couldn't take it seriously beyond this point. The "100% English" documentary was without question the worst piece of journalism I've ever seen. Fox News is better. The genetic test used in that documentary has actually been thoroughly debunked and the company behind it is known as one of the worst commercial DNA testers around. According to the same company, Iberians are 30% Native American. And that's just one of its laughable findings that aren't corroborated by any other genetic studies in existence. Pure garbage.

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    It's high time Angles are seen as both native to Britain and yet from Europe. There's nobody to return the land to, since the Britons of Wales came with the Romans hot on their tails and they dispossessed the natives, who no longer exist as their own people. There's no way to move back to the Continent either. America is the next best thing.

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    The Romans? They were violent in the country and made Britain a part of their empire, doing away with the druids. They set up buildings with pillars, ampitheatres and gladiator arenas. A recent quest for a Roman arena was started in York. Throughout the country are Roman building works like the villages, roads, ruins and Hadrians' Wall. The native population lived in enclosed villages with wooden houses. Romans built houses with hypocaust type of central heating. The Romans didn't think highly of the locals as they were just barbarian. After the Romans left Britain, the Anglo Saxons arrived and they disliked the Roman towns very much. Looking at British history, many will automatically think that the population consists of blood of anyone who ever lived here, including gnomes and pixies.

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