Skip to comments.Genetic Survey Reveals Hidden Celts Of England
Posted on 12/06/2001 6:35:33 AM PST by blam
SUNDAY DECEMBER 02 2001
Genetic survey reveals hidden Celts of England
JOHN ELLIOTT AND TOM ROBBINS
THE Celts of Scotland and Wales are not as unique as some of them like to think. New research has revealed that the majority of Britons living in the south of England share the same DNA as their Celtic counterparts.
The findings, based on the DNA analysis of more than 2,000 people, poses the strongest challenge yet to the conventional historical view that the ancient Britons were forced out of most of England by hordes of Anglo-Saxon invaders.
It suggests that far from being purged and forced to retreat into Wales, Cornwall and Scotland when the AngloSaxons invaded in the 5th century, many ancient Britons remained in England.
The study, conducted by geneticists at University College London, found that as many as three-quarters of the men tested in some parts of the south of England have the same Y-chromosome as the ancient Britons or Celts, rather than that of the Anglo-Saxons.
Overall, the scientists found that between 50% and 75% of those tested in parts of southern England were directly descended from Celts, implying that they had survived the Anglo-Saxon invasion. In Scotland the proportion of those with Celtic ancestry was found to be little different from the population of southern England.
"The evidence is quite strong that there is a substantial indigenous component remaining in England," said Professor David Goldstein, who led the study. "Genetics has opened up a powerful window on the past. We can now trace the movements of peoples and address questions that have proved difficult to answer through history and archeology alone."
The study, commissioned by BBC2 for its current Blood of the Vikings series, was designed to assess the impact of Norwegian and Danish Vikings, as well as Anglo-Saxons, on the British population.
Researchers took swabs of saliva from 2,000 people in 30 locations around Britain, and from 400 people in Norway, Denmark and Schleswig- Holstein, the area in northern Germany identified by the team as a homeland of the AngloSaxons. Those taking part had to have lived in the area for at least two generations.
Scientists then examined the Y-chromosome, which is passed unchanged down the male line of a family and is thus not altered by intermarriage.
The analysis showed that 60% of the men tested on Orkney were descended from Norwegian Vikings, as well as 30% of those in the Hebrides. While the Viking influence in these areas has been well known, it had been suggested that they were simply a ruling elite who did little interbreeding with the local population.
On the mainland, the survey found that 70% of those tested in York were from the continental European groups rather than the indigenous population, suggesting that the Anglo-Saxons made more of an impact on the Celts in northern England.
Only 10% of those tested in Wales were of Anglo-Saxon origin, confirming that it has retained an almost exclusively Celtic population.
In recent years the fate of the Celts in England has become hotly debated. Many historians have come to doubt the traditional story about the flight of the Celts from southern England, which was based largely on the account of Gildas, the 6th-century historian.
"There are various schools of thought ranging from near genocide (of the Celts) to almost total survival," said Patrick Sims-Williams, professor of Celtic studies at the University of Wales. "There could have been mass flight as well its partly a matter of scholarly fashion, coming and going from generation to generation."
The genetic data will be eagerly received by scholars. Many of the place names in southern England have Celtic origins. Among them are Leatherhead, in Surrey, which meant "the grey ford".
"If you believe Gildas, the Anglo-Saxons would have been chasing the ancient Britons, catching up with one who wasnt fast enough and saying, Look here, before I cut off your head, just tell me the name of this place," said Dr Margaret Gelling, a leading authority on place names.
Monday, 3 December, 2001, 18:15 GMT
Viking blood still flowing
Many Vikings settled in Britain 1,200 years ago
Blood tests taken over the past year may help show part of Cumbria in northwest England was a Viking stronghold 1,200 years ago.
Geneticists discovered the area around Penrith has clear evidence of Norwegian influence.
However, the study also confirms that Vikings settled in large numbers in the Shetland and Orkneys and the far north of the Scottish mainland.
The research is part of a ground-breaking project commissioned by the BBC to uncover the UK's Viking roots.
In the first large-scale genetics survey of its kind, experts from University College, London, studied the DNA of 2,000 people.
The full results of the project will be revealed in the final programme of the series, Blood of the Vikings, on Tuesday at 2100 GMT.
The study shows the genetic pattern of the Vikings remains in some parts of the UK population.
The research confirms the Norwegian Vikings did not just raid and retreat to Scandinavia, but actually settled in Britain.
Of all the English test sites, only Penrith in Cumbria had clear evidence of Norwegian influence.
Surprisingly, mainland Scotland had a similar Celtic input as the population of southern England, showing that not only were the English never "homogenous Anglo-Saxons", but neither were the Scots predominantly Celtic.
Geneticist Professor David Goldstein, from the University College London (UCL), led the study. He said: "Modern genetics has opened up a powerful window on the past.
"We can now trace past movements of peoples and address questions that have proved difficult to answer through history and archaeology alone.
"I'm delighted that we have been able to distinguish clear markers to indicate the genetic inheritance from the Norwegian Vikings."
Scientists at UCL took mouth swabs from 2,000 people from 25 different locations across Britain.
They only tested men because information they were interested in was contained on the Y chromosome - which women do not have.
The genetic material in the samples was compared with DNA taken from people in Scandinavia where some locals are thought to be most similar to the Vikings.
I'd be interested to see if the DNA info indicates any correlation between England and Italy. After all, my Roman ancestors were there for a good 400 years, and we Mediterraneans ALWAYS go for those succulent pale redhead types...
Taken in another light. The United States govt. chased Indians the hell out of every habitable plot of land in the Union. This is a fact. But who would want to bet that if a similar test were performed in the United States, that most individuals would show a Sioux, Iriqouis, or any other Indian Nation, trace in their DNA? Would that then mean that we really didn't round most Indians up, via coercian, treaty and force into lifeless "reservations"? No.
Well, DUHHH, what did they think, they should go to Nigeria for viking DNA???
NO it wouldn't. For the Y chromosome to have survived, it's the MEN of the Celts that had to keep breeding. You couldn't take their wives without your invading Y chromosome showing up. Perhaps as the Anglo-Saxons invaded they had their wives impregnated by the Celtic men before they cut their heads off? (sarcasm /off)
Most likely Cherokee. I am sure that most people in East Tennessee have some Cherokee blood in them. Elvis Presly himself was part Cherokee.
A teacher in Cheddar was found to be a direct descendant (female line only) of the mother of a 9000-years-old boy whose skeleton was found just a few miles away...
Still, there are many locales and cities, as you say especially in the northeast, and east London, etc. where Anglo-Saxon and/or Viking genes have equal or greater prevalence...East Anglia, Boston, Grantham...
I've actually seen a comparison to an American Indian language to the Basque language. (forgot which tribe/language) A number of unexplainable similarities were found. Now, Plutarch, examining the ruins of Carthage cites charts/graphs/etc. he found that were accounts of trade with nations across the Atlantic Ocean.
DNA links teacher to 9,000-year-old skeleton
Submitted by: CNN
March 7, 1997
Web posted at: 11:20 p.m. EST
LONDON (AP) -- Using DNA from a tooth, scientist have established a blood tie between a 9,000-year-old skeleton known as "Cheddar Man" and an English schoolteacher who lives just a half mile from the cave where the bones were found.
Oxford University scientists announced Friday that Adrian Targett, 42, a history teacher in the town of Cheddar in southwest England, shares a common ancestor with Cheddar Man.
It is the longest human lineage ever traced, the team of scientists from the university's Institute of Molecular Medicine said.
A very long-lost relative
"They would have shared a common ancestor about 10,000 years ago so they are related -- just not very closely," said Dr. Bryan Sykes, leader of the research team.
Targett was startled by the news.
"I am overwhelmed, a bit surprised," said Targett, whose ancestry was revealed during the filming of a documentary for the TV station HTV, which commissioned the study.
"I was just about to say I hope it's not me."
Targett suggested that if more people were tested, researchers would find other relatives of Cheddar Man.
Larry Barham, a Texas-born archaeologist at Bristol University, said the finding "adds to the evidence that Britons came from a race of hunter-gatherers who later turned to farming because they found it was to their advantage." Archaeologists believe Cheddar Man, who lived during the Stone Age, was a hunter-gatherer.
Opponents of this theory argue that Britons are descendants of Middle Eastern farmers.
Mitochondrial DNA shows a link
To get the DNA, scientists extracted cells from a molar tooth of Cheddar Man.
They compared the mitochondrial DNA -- which is inherited unchanged on the maternal line -- with samples of mitochondrial DNA from the cheek cells of 15 pupils at the Kings of Wessex school, where Targett works, and five adults from old Cheddar families.
Professor Chris Stringer, a researcher at London's Natural History Museum, said one problem with the research "is that we don't know that Cheddar Man had any children. This is mitochondrial DNA that is only inherited through the maternal link, so this would come from Cheddar Man's mother or his sister."
HTV said the discovery came when a television director was researching a series on archaeology. In search of information on whether cannibalism was practiced by Stone Age man, scientists took a sample of cells from the jaw of Cheddar Man, HTV said.
That led them to wonder if there could be modern-day relatives of the ancient man, who was discovered in 1903.
The network of underground caves at Cheddar, 130 miles west of London, is believed to have been home to a community of Stone Age people. Many artifacts have been found there.
I once read a reference to an expedition in the late 1600s wherein a welshman was able to communicate with a group of Noth American Indians in his native speech. I've never been able to find out more about it, but I found that to be fascinating.
It's already been conclusively proved that the Norse were in N.A. 500 years before Columbus. We will probably eventually learn that there was a great deal more contact between the "Old" and "New" Worlds than we ever imagined.