Academics at University College in London comparing a sample of men from the UK with those from an area of the Netherlands where the Anglo-Saxons are thought to have originated, found the English subjects had genes that were almost identical. However, there were clear differences between the genetic make-up of Welsh people studied. The research team studied the Y-chromosome, which is passed almost unchanged from father to son, and looked for certain genetic markers. They chose seven market towns mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, and studied 313 male volunteers whose paternal grandfather had also lived in the area. They then compared this with samples from Norway and with Friesland, now a northern province of the Netherlands. The English and Frisians studied had almost identical genetic make-up but the English and Welsh were very different. The researchers concluded the most likely explanation for this was a large-scale Anglo-Saxon invasion, which devastated the Celtic population of England, but did not reach Wales.
Dr Mark Thomas, of the Centre for Genetic Anthropology at UCL, said their findings suggested that a migration occurred within the last 2,500 years. It reinforced the idea that the Welsh were the true indigenous Britons. Researchers for the BBC programme on the Vikings revealed strong genetic links between the Welsh and Irish Celts and the Basques of northern Spain and south France. It suggested a possible link between the Celts and Basques, dating back thousands of years. The UCL research into the more recent Anglo-Saxon period suggested a migration on a huge scale. “It appears England is made up of an ethnic cleansing event from people coming across from the continent after the Romans left,” he said.
Archaeologists after the Second World War rejected the traditionally held view that an Anglo-Saxon invasion pushed the indigenous Celtic Britons to the fringes of Britain. Instead, they said the arrival of Anglo-Saxon culture could have come from trade or a small ruling elite. But the latest research by the UCL team, “using genetics as a history book”, appears to support the original view of a large-scale invasion of England. It suggests that the Welsh border was more of a genetic barrier to the Anglo-Saxon Y chromosome gene flow than the North Sea. Dr Thomas added: “Our findings completely overturn the modern view of the origins of the English.” ...(BBC News, 30 June 2002)
What if… There was no ‘ethnic cleansing’ of native Britons by ‘Anglo-Saxons’ ? An alternative never conventionally considered is the traditional account of the kinship between the Welsh (Cymry) and the English (Loegrians). Include the evidence for a wide scale natural disaster around 540AD (b), perhaps a meteor strike in central England, with crop failures and disease following, and a gradual infiltration of what is now England by Anglo-Saxons and others, mingling with survivors.
Why assume ‘Offa’s Dyke’ only dates from the Mercian Offa’s time? The Roman Septimus Severus is a candidate for construction of the earthen mound and ditch, around 205AD (e). The appearance of the Mercians, a Germanic race, coincidentally, is only a year or two following the expulsion of the Vandals by Belissarius from North Africa, 548AD (c). Where did they go? Does the Mabinogion poetically describe their rampage in Ireland and South Wales, as the boar Twrch Trwyth, eventually driven inland up the Severn?
And finally.. what if ‘English’ or the earliest form of the language preceded ‘Saxon’ England altogether (d)?
Thanks to: (a) English and Welsh are races apart BBC News, 30 June 2002
(b) Catastrophe by David Keys (p166)
(c) Artorius Rex Discovered by Baram Blackett and Alan Wilson (p100)
(e) The Keys to Avalon: The True Location of Arthur’s Kingdom Revealed by Steve Blake and Scott Lloyd (p60)