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Genetic makeup of native British people

This Oxford University study is fascinating. I've read books on this subject before that came to similar conclusions, but I think I'm right in saying that this is the most detailed study so far:

There's all sorts of interesting stuff revealed. For example:

  • There's no real 'celtic' ethnic group. There is more genetic diversity between different culturally celtic groups than you'd expect.

  • Bernicia was clearly a thing, Rheged definitely so. Perhaps more surprisingly, so was the Kingdom of Elmet.

  • Cornish and Devonian populations are genetically distinct, and the boundary is pretty much the River Tamar (the modern boundary between the Duchy and the county). We live just on the Cornish side of the border. Most people I know from Devon wouldn't dream of living in Cornwall and vice versa. Clearly these attitudes have been around for almost 1500 years!

  • I wonder to what extent this signifies that the Cornish are an earlier population and to what extent they are Breton immigrants.

  • North and South Welsh populations are similarly distinct.

  • However, there seems to be an English marcher population stretching from the Severn Valley right up to the Wirral. Wasn't expecting that. Interestingly this population (marked with a purple cross on the map) also has three other very specific locations away from the Welsh frontier - one on the Isle of Wight, one in Kent vaguely near Maidstone and one in what might be Scunthorpe. Interesting.

  • Vikings can't have fancied local women much - there are almost no Norse genes. The one exception is (predictably) Orkney. (I'm assuming from the map that they didn't include Shetland and possibly also the Isle of Man.)

  • There's a clear link between Catalonia and North Wales.

  • There is a distinct 'English' ethnic group, but it only covers part of modern England. The line between the 'English' and the rest of the country is broadly where it was in 600AD which perhaps suggests that areas of 'England' beyond that line are conquered territories that were never truly settled.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2015 11:52 pm (UTC)
The un-'English'ness of Northumberland and Durham reminds me of the problems London used to have pre-1603, sending arms to Northumberland and Durham to fight the Scots, only to receive complaints from Yorkshire that the Scots and the men of Northumberland and Durham were raiding them with arms sent from London...

The Marcher folk might be more typical of the descendants of the Romano-British population of central and southern England, with outliers near the centres of administration in eastern Britannia where there was or might have been administrative continuity between the late Roman period and the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

I tried to download the Nature version yesterday, but the site was unavailable.

Edited at 2015-03-19 11:54 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2015 12:15 pm (UTC)
I don't think that conclusion (about the Norse genes) works. There are almost no Norse genes *among the people tested* - who were people from rural families who had 4 grandparents all born in the same area.

It would make sense for people with Viking or Roman ancestry to be more likely to live in towns and cities, more likely to travel and marry in a different area - which surely would exclude them from this survey? Perhaps a liking for travel is genetic.
Mar. 20th, 2015 12:41 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that's a good point.
Mar. 20th, 2015 01:31 pm (UTC)
It would make sense for people with Viking or Roman ancestry to be more likely to live in towns and cities

Why? I must be missing something here.
Mar. 20th, 2015 02:19 pm (UTC)
Well, the way I see it, Romans and Vikings were both trading nations, those periods involve a lot of 'stuff' being manufactured and moving about. Trading and raiding focusses on markets, busy rich centres of activity (whether called towns, villas, abbeys or whatever) and ports. Also, well off invaders seem more likely to knock off the nobs, annex the convenient and comfortable accommodation, but leave the day to day farming to the people who were already doing it.

Now, OK there are intervening periods when towns/villas/abbeys/cities have been abandoned and died or gone up in flames, but traders/craftsmen/workers/soldiers moving on from a dying population centre seem more likely to want to move to another population centre if they can find one - and perhaps easier for the townies to do that, than for the rural population, as the townies are more likely to have friends/connections/experience outside their immediate area and so have more potential to move.

That was my thought anyway.

Edited at 2015-03-20 02:21 pm (UTC)
Mar. 20th, 2015 02:32 pm (UTC)
There are hints on the map of a reading which would support your view, such as the outliers around some river valleys. The methodology, of course, doesn't allow for any more.
Mar. 21st, 2015 07:58 am (UTC)
Ah, I see what you mean; thanks.
Mar. 20th, 2015 02:40 pm (UTC)
Cornish and Devonian populations are genetically distinct, and the boundary is pretty much the River Tamar

Being in and from Cornwall, I wholeheartedly agree :-D
Mar. 20th, 2015 03:01 pm (UTC)
Nice to see a local presence on LJ. (I'm an immigrant me...)
Mar. 20th, 2015 03:05 pm (UTC)
LOL - do you live in Cornwall?

Re immigrant - well as far as I'm concerned, if they work and pay their taxes here, then they are elected Cornish identity :-D
Mar. 20th, 2015 03:53 pm (UTC)
Yeah, we're in Chilsworthy (between Callington and Gunnislake). Have been here since 2000. The previous userpic is of Kit Hill, and this one is the view from our front windows*.

Where are you (apart from the Rolle Building, Plymouth University, a place I have been known to frequent**)? I used to work in Plymouth, and I lecture part-time at the 'other' Plymouth university (Marjons).

* Admittedly, because we are right on the border (literally on the slope of the valley), most of that view is actually in Devon.
** We hold the You're Hired! final at Plymouth University and have used Rolle in the past.
Mar. 20th, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
We're right down the other end! 3 miles from St Ives - 18 miles from Lands End.

I am a mature student at Truro College studying an FdA English Studies - I am attending Plymouth Uni next academic year for my full BA English :-)
Mar. 20th, 2015 03:14 pm (UTC)
Do you read Steve Sailer at all? He is a pithy race realist who just touched on this topic:


He also writes quite a bit about how certain issues are presented and framed in the journalism world in order to perpetuate a given narrative.
Mar. 20th, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)
Interesting reads - bookmarked for the next Phlegmatic post!
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )