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Matters Arising (The History of Britain Revealed)
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Mick Harper
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That question has been lurking around in my head too though your pointing it out has somewhat crystallised the matter. However, for the moment, let me raise some things that need clarifying.

As I understand it, there are several hundred words in Middle English from Norse.

The problem here is that there really is no such thing as Middle English so it is difficult to, as it were, count the words derived from any language. There are twelfth and thirteenth century texts that are called Middle English but are in actuality either ordinary English written using Anglo-Saxon writing conventions or Anglo-Saxon written by people no longer trained in the writing of Anglo-Saxon. I can't tell which because I don't have the scholarship, and the scholars refuse to do anything other than (gleefully) 'translate' them into English. There are also fourteenth century texts that are called Middle English but these are invariably just straightforward English written using non-standard spelling conventions.

But, even granted these difficulties, and perhaps lobbing in a few even later texts that are sometimes used to pad out Middle English (everything up to Gawain and the Green Knight) how do you tell what is a specifically "Norse" borrowing? There are undoubtedly lots of words that are common to English, Anglo-Saxon, German, Dutch, Modern Nowegian and Old Norse. Since we don't have any earlier English texts, these common words might have been borrowed by Old Norse from English!

What was the repository of this substantial lexicon from the 9th and 10th Centuries until the 14th? I have always felt unhappy about the idea that they were hanging around in spoken Anglo-Saxon/old-to-Middle English though never quite making it into the writing until 400 years later.

The thing here is to decide the status of Anglo-Saxon. Since all our evidence for the language comes from the written texts, there is the very strong possibility that it was a "dead" language from the off. In other words Anglo-Saxon was a purely literary language and pretty much unchanging anyway. Anglo-Saxons themselves may well have been chirrupping to one another in Frisian, German, Danish etc etc. If this is so, one might as well aske why Norse words didn't creep into Latin.

And of course it is presumption amongst most of us here (though this didn't get into the second edition of THOBR for editorial reasons) that Old Norse is itself an artificial, literary language.

Harper's invisible (i.e. not written) English could be just such a repository.

If you are talking about real, demotic words (from, say, Danish) that have entered English but which are mysteriously absent from Anglo-Saxon, then this would indeed be quite a strong piece of supporting evidence. For which, cheers!
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Duncan


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THOBR is certainly creating waves. If we are to accept the central thesis, that the English language is ancient and the father of French and German, then we have our creation myth par excellence. The venerable Bede can certainly eat his heart out.

Cognitive dissonance apart, the Historians are not loving it, but I can see no problem with a 'Celtic' invasion at some point in our past. Gildas tells us that the Anglo-Saxons took the lands of the British but if the British spoke English and not Welsh then we don't have a problem. Gildas wrote in Latin.

Nonetheless, geneticists are pitching into the fray with increased regularity. At the turn of the millennium we had Thomas et al telling us that the English and Welsh are genetically unrelated and that the English have far more in commom genetically with people in Frisia. Then Goldstein told us that the differences are more pronounced either side of the Danelaw. Now we have Sykes, Bodmer and Oppenheimer baring their academic claws.

The new Channel 4 series 'The Face of Britain' will tell us that we carry, on average, 80% of the original genetic make-up of the first settlers. These guys were 'gingers' apparently, no offence to any of you out there with 'the flaming locks'. The genetic map they create is based upon this methodology: take a sample from Devon & Cornwall, call it 'Celtic'. Take another one from East Anglia, call it 'Anglo-Saxon'. Then compare the rest of the population to see the percentage of each type in each person. Booyah!

Where does this leave THOBR's thesis? It certainly short-circuits the problems posed by the fact that a supposedly 'Celtic' speaking population was persuaded to switch to English by a hotch-potch of Germanic mercenaries and their mates from across the North Sea. Where I have the problem, unless we just believe all the genetic research is bollocks, is this ethnic mix. More Germanic in the east, more Celtic in the west. According to Bodmer these westerners are the older population. Sykes found the stuff in Cheddar Man, who's bones are supposed to be 9000 years old. Are they the English speakers who built Stonehenge? What is is what was unless there is evidence to the contrary.

So, as far as I can see (I wear glasses for driving) we have three options:

1. The 80% that Bodmer calls 'Celtic' are really the Celtic speaking Ancient Britons that orthodoxy has always said they were. The 20% are Anglo-Saxons and Danes, their numbers being much higher in the Danelaw. Of course, we need to explain why they speak English.

2. The 80% are the native English speakers and the 20% are the Anglo-Saxons and Danes. If English is part of the same family of languages, though, we should see a much closer genetic similarity between the 80s and the 20s.

3. The genetics is bollocks and we ignore it. Geneticists should be encouraged to get proper jobs.
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Mick Harper
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THOBR is certainly creating waves.

Nah. It just seems like that because you're on the lookout.

If we are to accept the central thesis, that the English language is ancient and the father of French and German, then we have our creation myth par excellence.

Actually a few far right voices are picking up on this aspect. God help us. Not that, as an Applied Epistemologist, I have much objection to the far right.

The venerable Bede can certainly eat his heart out.

If we knew what the Ven Gent said. A lot of it is much later interpolation.

Cognitive dissonance apart, the Historians are not loving it,

Yeah but this is the problem. The historians don't have a view one way or the other. If the new theory ever reaches their levels of consciousness, cognitive dissonance will lead them to dismiss it. If they did ever reach the stage of "not loving it", yes, the old paradigm would be doomed.

but I can see no problem with a 'Celtic' invasion at some point in our past.

It's not a question of a difficulty -- since they are there now they must have 'invaded' at some time in the past. My own view is that the English-speakers were there first and the Celtic-speakers came later but I don't have any special objection to it being t'other way about.

Gildas tells us that the Anglo-Saxons took the lands of the British but if the British spoke English and not Welsh then we don't have a problem. Gildas wrote in Latin.

There's some doubt about the authenticity of Gildas -- I'll try to resurrect some material on him. But with all these old geezers, it seems impossible to pin down who exactly they're talking about. On one level it's rather like relying on the early English settlers in America to distinguish carefully between native American language groups. But at a deeper level, in the Ancient World, there just doesn't seem to be any recognition, on the part of contemporary commentators, of the really basic native population. It's quite weird reading accounts of, say, Caesar in Gaul where (apparently) the entire population just ups sticks and rolls away on their wagons -- or gets slaughtered down to the last bubba. Even today's commentators seem quite happy with the idea of several million people just disappearing from the English countryside to be replaced by several million Anglo-Saxons. I just don't believe any of it.

Nonetheless, geneticists are pitching into the fray with increased regularity. At the turn of the millenium we had Thomas et al telling us that the English and Welsh are genetically unrelated and that the English have far more in commom genetically with people in Frisia. Then Goldstein told us that the differences are more pronounced either side of the Danelaw. Now we have Sykes, Bodmer and Oppenheimer baring their academic claws.

It's true that classically the paradigm will get overthrown by a different discipline stumbling into the probelm unawares but I have my doubts that geneticists will be the engine of change. The science is not exact enough to stop up all the get-out-of-jail arguments. Largely of course because the history is so scarce that practically any get-out-of-jail card can be made to fit if you're anxious enough to preserve the status quo.

The new Channel 4 series 'The Face of Britain' will tell us that we carry, on average, 80% of the original genetic make-up of the first settlers. These guys were 'gingers' apparently, no offence to any of you out there with 'the flaming locks'. The genetic map they create is based upon this methodology: take a sample from Devon & Cornwall, call it 'Celtic'. Take another one from East Anglia, call it 'Anglo-Saxon'. Then compare the rest of the population to see the percentage of each type in each person. Booyah!

Yes, if only the geneticists would truly start afresh ie not use orthodox history to define their basic samples...then we might get somewhere.

Where does this leave THOBR's thesis? It certainly short-circuits the problems posed by the fact that a supposedly 'Celtic' speaking population was persuaded to switch to English by a hotch-potch of Germanic mercenaries and their mates from across the North Sea. Where I have the problem, unless we just believe all the genetic research is bollocks, is this ethnic mix. More Germanic in the east, more Celtic in the west.

I don't see your problem. English is closely related to German so the English-speakers in the east will be genetically similar to the Anglo-Saxon speakers. But the west ain't and won't. Of course if the 'Celtic-speakers' are a trading/ruling class minority then I doubt, at this distance in time, that there could possibly be such a thing as a pure Celtic gene anywhere (which should fix the mix nicely).

According to Bodmer these westerners are the older population. Sykes found the stuff in Cheddar Man, who's bones are supposed to be 9000 years old. Are they the English speakers who built Stonehenge? What is is what was unless there is evidence to the contrary.

Some of us here equate Megaliths with the Celts (I'm favourable/ agnostic to the proposition personally). But any geneticist who claims to be able to identify 9,000 year old genes in our present state of knowledge is 'aving a larf.

So, as far as I can see (I wear glasses for driving) we have three options etc etc :

I am inclined to the third proposition.
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Duncan


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Ok, let's take another look.

Yeah but this is the problem. The historians don't have a view one way or the other.

I can't find any responses to your book by the main protagonists right now. Suffice to say we have the invasionist school whose notables include Mark Thomas and Heinrich Harke, and the elite/cultural approach associated with Francis Pryor. I'd say that they're doing the research to fit the archaeology to the historical sources such as they are.

Even today's commentators seem quite happy with the idea of several million people just disappearing from the English countryside to be replaced by several million Anglo-Saxons. I just don't believe any of it.

Certainly a tough one. In their paper 'Evidence for an apartheid-like social structure in early Anglo-Saxon England' Thomas and Harker talk about selective breeding for invader genes, with the natives, whom they called wealas or slaves (from where the word Welshman supposedly derives), being marginalised. The seventh century laws of Ine talk about the value of a Welshman being far less in wergild than that of an Anglo-Saxon.

Yes, if only the geneticists would truly start afresh ie not use orthodox history to define their basic samples...then we might get somewhere.

Indeed, but the genetic differences are there for us to pick up on even now. The geneticists don't disagree on the incidence of the different populations. We just ignore the labels of orthodox history entirely and simply say westerners are different from easterners. At least we can start from somewhere then.

I don't see your problem. English is closely related to German so the English-speakers in the east will be genetically similar to the Anglo-Saxon speakers. But the west ain't and won't. Of course if the 'Celtic-speakers' are a trading/ruling class minority then I doubt, at this distance in time, that there could possibly be such a thing as a pure Celtic gene anywhere (which should fix the mix nicely).

Bodmer picked up on a MC1R gene which he claims is a gene for red hair. It is much more likely to be found in the 'Celtic' fringe. Nonetheless, we have two distinct, and ancient populations in the UK. Othodoxy tells us the most recent is the one in the east. If the Celts were just a minority trading group/ruling elite then their genetic impact would be hidden but why would their language persist? They must have been numerous enough to replace the native language speakers in the areas they colonised.

But any geneticist who claims to be able to identify 9,000 year old genes in our present state of knowledge is 'aving a larf.

Ok, genetics is still a young discipline but I think we're in danger of throwing yon baby out wi' bath water. Sykes has yet to publish his full results but he also tested the MtDNA of the Red lady of Paviland who is older than Cheddar Man and obtained a match with the native population (i.e. non-germanic). I think we've got to be careful here. He may just be making it up but his professional career at Oxford and his business, Oxford Ancestors I think it's called, would be in tatters. Now this man certainly has not only intellectual but financial capital invested in this here project. He's got to be careful because the physical sciences are testable in ways that historical speculation clearly isn't.

Some of us here equate Megaliths with the Celts.

This is fascinating. I'm a little baffled here. In THOBR you say that Stonehenge was probably built by English speakers. That would certainly fit with the idea of a native/post-last ice age population. Celtic revivalists certainly claim the connections and there's recent speculation by John Grigsby that 'Celtic' and Neolithic religion follows similar themes, such as we can tease it out from the evidence. Oppenheimer has linked the 'Celts' to the Basques genetically but that raises more questions than it solves at the moment. This all sounds ripe for another thread but it gets right to the heart of who we are as Brits and the success of the latest genetic forays, let alone Sykes's business, tells me that the interest out there is tremendous.
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Mick Harper
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I can't find any responses to your book by the main protagonists right now. Suffice to say we have the invasionist school whose notables include Mark Thomas and Heinrich Harke, and the elite/cultural approach associated with Francis Pryor. I'd say that they're doing the research to fit the archaeology to the historical sources such as they are.

This sums up the general problem! If the archaeology -- and to quote THOBR, Britain is the most archaeologically explored country in the world -- supports both
a model that the entire population was replaced AND
that nothing much changed (except the language, natch)
then clearly the archaeology can be made to fit pretty much anything.

Certainly a tough one. In their paper 'Evidence for an apartheid-like social structure in early Anglo-Saxon England' Thomas and Harker talk about selective breeding for invader genes, with the natives, whom they called wealas or slaves (from where the word Welshman supposedly derives), being marginalised. The seventh century laws of Ine talk about the value of a Welshman being far less in wergild than that of an Anglo-Saxon.

Yes, from two Applied Epistemological aspects, this latest burst of proto-revisionism has been fascinating. The first is that it is a blatant piece of desperate circle-squaring. We know all about apartheid systems because (whisper it softly) every invading elite goes in for it -- the trick is not to get caught doing it too blatantly by the liberal intelligentsia. But so far in human history there is not an example of "breeding programmes" of the kind these eejits need. How could there be since the whole point of being an elite is that you have a large non-elite population?

The second has been the horror felt by the (oh-so-liberal) Anglo-Saxonists that their beloved Anglo-Saxons could be compared to the Nazi swine who imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Though curiously they are fairly comfortable with the idea that the A/S's might have ethnically cleansed the whole of England!

Bodmer picked up on a MC1R gene which he claims is a gene for red hair. It is much more likely to be found in the 'Celtic' fringe. Nonetheless, we have two distinct, and ancient populations in the UK. Othodoxy tells us the most recent is the one in the east.

OK, tell me how geneticists can tell, given two different samples, which genetic strain is the 'recent' one? As I have pointed out elsewhere, every human genetic strain must, by definition, be exactly as old as every other one. If they are told by pre-historians that one group is known to be ancient and the other is known to be recent, then I daresay that assumption will be fed into their computer models and be reflected in the results. But otherwise?

If the Celts were just a minority trading group/ruling elite then their genetic impact would be hidden but why would their language persist? They must have been numerous enough to replace the native language speakers in the areas they colonised.

Because this is what happens in nature. There will be some seepage of genes across the population divide but this genetic variation will only show up in the smaller gene pool. However, language will surivive indefinitely so long as there is some cultural advantage in speaking the minority language. Thus:
1. For several thousand years (from, say, 4500BC to 500 BC) the Celtic minority gene pool receives small but constant bits of English gene input. The English majority gene pool does too but it won't show up in such a large population.
2. For these four thousand years, because Celtic-speakers are top dogs, the Celtic language is in rude health and gradually becomes the majority language in those areas of initial settlement (cf the Arab-speakers along the north coast of Africa).
3. For the next two thousand years in the English-speaking east, the Celtic elite are replaced by Belgae, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Danes and Normans, so the Celtic language disappears. West unchanged. Genetics unchanged.
4. After c 1500 when the English-speakers become politically dominant,.the Celtic-speakers in the west undergo a radical decline both linguistically (since there is every incentive to go English in mixed marriages) and also genetically (eg Potato Famine, Highland Clearances).
5. If the geneticists would sample Celtic populations from tiny islands in the far west and north then they might get somewhere -- though of course small populations have their own difficulties gene-wise.

Ok, genetics is still a young discipline but I think we're in danger of throwing yon baby out wi' bath water. Sykes has yet to publish his full results but he also tested the MtDNA of the Red lady of Paviland who is older than Cheddar Man and obtained a match with the native population (i.e. non-germanic).

Actually I don't think he quite did this. He showed that these very old bodies had a genetic link with very modern people (albeit in the western half of Britain) but he did not go on to show that there was a difference between moderns and "germanics". On the other hand, looking at the boring bits rather than the newsworthy bits, he found no link between the old and the new for thirty or so samples (only for the two kids and the teacher). But perhaps you could enlighten us further.

I think we've got to be careful here. He may just be making it up but his professional career at Oxford and his business, Oxford Ancestors I think it's called, would be in tatters. Now this man certainly has not only intellectual but financial capital invested in this here project.

That's fine except you can look at it the other way and say that anyone with his professional and business career on the line is hardly likely to push forward with great enthusiasm a theory that his clients believe to be total rubbish. A bit of moderate revisionism will make his name; challenging the existing paradigm root-and-branch will cast him into a very deep pit.

He's got to be careful because the physical sciences are testable in ways that historical speculation clearly isn't.

True-ish. Population genetics is not yet, in my view, a testable physical science in the ordinary sense. Replication, for instance, has not yet been done. Or rather every time the testing is done again, more argy-bargy results. Just one point to think about: if population genetics is found to buttress the prevailing paradigm then resources will flow into this new and useful science and loads of replication will take place. If it does not, the funding will tend to dry up since "at the present time, population genetics seems unable to discriminate populations to the level that historians and archaeologists can use in a practical way".

This is fascinating. I'm a little baffled here. In THOBR you say that Stonehenge was probably built by English speakers.

That was perhaps a little incautious of me. I meant to convey the idea that the local population was English-speaking when Stonehenge was built and that therefore the actual labour force used in their erection was English-speaking.

That would certainly fit with the idea of a native/post-last ice age population.

I don't see why. The assumption must surely be that the Megalith-builders came in when the megaliths "suddenly" appeared.

Celtic revivalists certainly claim the connections and there's recent speculation by John Grigsby that 'Celtic' and Neolithic religion follows similar themes, such as we can tease it out from the evidence.

We have lost contact with John...what's his latest effusions?

Oppenheimer has linked the 'Celts' to the Basques genetically but that raises more questions than it solves at the moment. This all sounds ripe for another thread but it gets right to the heart of who we are as Brits and the success of the latest genetic forays, let alone Sykes's business, tells me that the interest out there is tremendous.

We have pages and pages (and pages) on all this. If you wish, e-mail me and I will give you the keys to the (old) castle.
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Duncan


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But so far in human history there is not an example of "breeding programmes" of the kind these eejits need. How could there be since the whole point of being an elite is that you have a large non-elite population?


What these geneticists are saying is that the Anglo-Saxons didn't exterminate the natives. They kept them as slaves and increased their own numbers but systematically bred them out. The end result was that a genetically small invading elite grew to be a genetically dominant elite within the space of several generations. The paper is certainly worth a read. [url]http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/media/proceedings_b/
papers/RSPB20063627.pdf[/url]

OK, tell me how geneticists can tell, given two different samples, which genetic strain is the 'recent' one?


No disagreement here. I'm no geneticist but Bodmer tells us that it is the populations in the 'Celtic' fringe where the incidence of the red-haired gene is the highest. He thinks that they were carried into the British Isles by the first settlers but that's only because they were forced there by the Anglo-Saxons. He is clearly accepting the dominant paradigm. The THOBR view, of a 'Celtic' invasion, is just as valid to my mind.

Because this is what happens in nature. There will be some seepage of genes across the population divide but this genetic variation will only show up in the smaller gene pool. However, language will surivive indefinitely so long as there is some cultural advantage in speaking the minority language.


Couldn't this analysis be applied to the orthodox view of the Anglo-Saxon invasion? It would certainly work the other way with the A-S working on the 'Celts' pace Thomas and Harke.

He showed that these very old bodies had a genetic link with very modern people (albeit in the western half of Britain) but he did not go on to show that there was a difference between moderns and "germanics".


Quite true but Bodmer's published data so far shows Devon and Cornwall to be almost totally Celtic when compared to East Anglia's almost total Anglo-Saxon genetic make-up. Oxfordshire is 51 % Celtic so I think we can safely say that Somerset is going to be more Celtic. Until he publishes his full analysis in 2009 my money is on the native rather than Germanic DNA for Cheddar Man. Goldstein's research http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tcga/tcgapdf/capelli-CB-03.pdf shows a similar weighting. It's only inference, but invoking our friend William of Occam, I see it as the more persuasive explanation for now.


Population genetics is not yet, in my view, a testable physical science in the ordinary sense. Replication, for instance, has not yet been done. Or rather every time the testing is done again, more argy-bargy results.


Yep, which is why Pryor and Harke can have their running battle and there is no consensus over the big invasion. Maybe Bodmer's project will clarify things once and for all but it is a measure of some degree of acceptance that Thomas can change from his rapid ethnic cleansing perspective http://mbe.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/19/7/1008 in 2001 to his more recent view cited above. Sykes and Oppenheimer's data tends to be broadly comparable, touting the idea of a minority Germanic input in the UK as a whole but not in the east.


I don't see why. The assumption must surely be that the Megalith-builders came in when the megaliths "suddenly" appeared.


Why? The megaliths certainly seem to be associated with the birth of farming within Britain. Research by Mike Richards showed that diet changed suddenly with the advent of farming but to claim an invasion could be just to repeat all the old mistakes about anything significant ever happening here being brought in by the new boys. Maybe it was ideas that were traded. Old John Grigsby in 'Warriors in the Wasteland' posits a Beaker invasion which he associates with the Indo-Europeans. Maybe they brought in the Celtic language, maybe not.
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Mick Harper
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What these geneticists are saying is that the Anglo-Saxons didn't exterminate the natives. They kept them as slaves and increased their own numbers but systematically bred them out. The end result was that a genetically small invading elite grew to be a genetically dominant elite within the space of several generations. The paper is certainly worth a read. http://www.pubs.royalsoc.ac.uk/media/proceedings_b/
papers/RSPB20063627.pdf

Look, any thesis put forward is certain to be rational, otherwise it won't be put forward even by the cretinous dogs that infest academe. But what you have to ask yourself is, "Is this what normally happens?" Everything we know about elites is that they are just like non-elites in terms of breeding rates. (Eugenicists are always moaning that it's the toffs that tend to small families while the lower orders breed like rabbits...but replacement plus is usually the order of the day for both.)

I don't object to convoluted Anglo-Saxon breeding programmes per se but if we are being asked to accept a highly unusual arrangement then we'll need some evidence. I accept, as per the black population in the United States, that massa-slave relationships can alter the gene pool; I also accept that Genghis Khan (apparently) has his genes in one-eighth (or something) of all Mongolians but still.... Your task, since you've taken on this white man's burden, is to fillet the paper(s) and give us an annotated account of that evidence. You will discover, once you are looking for it, that the evidence just blows away in the wind. I hope.

Because this is what happens in nature. There will be some seepage of genes across the population divide but this genetic variation will only show up in the smaller gene pool. However, language will surivive indefinitely so long as there is some cultural advantage in speaking the minority language.

Couldn't this analysis be applied to the orthodox view of the Anglo-Saxon invasion? It would certainly work the other way with the A-S working on the 'Celts' pace Thomas and Harke.

I don't think so. The Anglo-Saxons are numbered in boatloads, the natives are numbered in millions. We know that interbreeding is always artificially prevented (except as above) between elites and non-elites, so the gene slippage will be negligible. And of course how you measure that slippage when
a) the two populations are genetically close to start with and
b) we don't know where the original Anglo-Saxons came from so we can't make any base measurements
is mind-boggling.

Quite true but Bodmer's published data so far shows Devon and Cornwall to be almost totally Celtic when compared to East Anglia's almost total Anglo-Saxon genetic make-up. Oxfordshire is 51 % Celtic so I think we can safely say that Somerset is going to be more Celtic. Until he publishes his full analysis in 2009 my money is on the native rather than Germanic DNA for Cheddar Man. Goldstein's research http://www.ucl.ac.uk/tcga/tcgapdf/capelli-CB-03.pdf shows a similar weighting. It's only inference, but invoking our friend William of Occam, I see it as the more persuasive explanation for now.

Sorry, but until I get further and better particulars I am not going to take anything he says about "Celtic" and "Anglo-Saxon" genes as gospel. Though his regional variations might turn out to be quite useful.
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Duncan


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And of course how you measure that slippage when
a) the two populations are genetically close to start with and
b) we don't know where the original Anglo-Saxons came from so we can't make any base measurements
is mind-boggling.


Seems we're hitting a brick wall here. The genetic studies are telling us that there is a difference, and a significant one at that, roughly either side of the old Danelaw borderline. The A-S told us they are from Northern Germany and Southern Denmark. There is archaeological evidence which tells us that the area known as Angeln was almost de-populated. Add this to the large numbers of Germanic mercenaries who had probably already settled here, perhaps augmenting earlier migrations pace Oppenheimer, and we can begin to explain the divide.

My view is that the Anglo-Saxons came from where they say they came from. Then again, so did the Danes who are genetically identical to the A-Ss. They are genetically very different from da west side.

Sorry, but until I get further and better particulars I am not going to take anything he says about "Celtic" and "Anglo-Saxon" genes as gospel. Though his regional variations might turn out to be quite useful.


That's fair enough. If you accept the evidence of regional genetic differences then there's a light at the end of this particular tunnel. This, then, really brings me back to my original point about which population is the older in these islands. The fascinating thing about THOBR is the way it shakes up everything people take for granted. We need to know where we came from so that we can know where we're going. That's certainly what's going to sell your book. Your thesis, that English is the older language, explains much but it must, of course, gain some kind of critical mass and degree of intellectual respectability before it can seriously challenge the dominant paradigm.

I think the problem still lies in the 'Celtic'/'Germanic' divide. If we agree that it exists then I think for your thesis to be accepted you will need to show that the genetically dominant population, (and this is where I maybe accept the genetics and you don't) with greater concentrations in the west, is the English speaking one and the eastern population is a much later arrival. That way the so-called Celts, as a small trading/elite group, have been absorbed genetically by the native population. If not you're left with a genetically less numerous population in the east whom orthodoxy insists are the descendents of the English speaking Anglo-Saxons.
The strength of THOBR is the way it rubbishes the orthodox view that Modern English is derived from Middle English which is derived from ye Olde English.

Until we can agree on the genetics, and maybe we must wait for Bodmer to complete his findings, I must remain agnostic towards THOBR. Cracking book though.
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Seems we're hitting a brick wall here. The genetic studies are telling us that there is a difference, and a significant one at that, roughly either side of the old Danelaw borderline.

Is this absolutely correct? Check again to make sure they are really measuring like with like. If it's true then we have to take it on the chin. I don't see how even orthodoxy can handle this since (surely?) there can be no discernible genetic difference between Anglo-Saxons and Danes.

The A-S told us they are from Northern Germany and Southern Denmark.

I didn't know this (can you supply details?). I thought that only modern orthodoxy assumes they were: Angles from the "angle" of Denmark and Germany, Saxons from...er...well, they have invented a different Saxony from the present one in North Germany and declared it to be Old Saxony. Our own view is (on the whole) that the Saxons are landlubbers from (present day) Saxony, where all the saltmines are, and traded salt up the Elbe, where they joined the sea-faring Angles to trade it across the sea.

There is archaeological evidence which tells us that the area known as Angeln was almost de-populated.

I think you mean a piece of the Frisian coast bereft of archaeology at the appropriate time and which was then declared to be Angeln, thus conveniently solving two problems -- the appearance of the A/S's in England and the disappearance of the A/S's in Germany. But perhaps you could expand on this.

Add this to the large numbers of Germanic mercenaries who had probably already settled here, perhaps augmenting earlier migrations pace Oppenheimer, and we can begin to explain the divide.

Yeah...quite. If you need to augment some Gerry genes why not wish into existence a whole bunch of German mercenaries that stayed on for no obvious reason. And let's lob in some "earlier migrations", why don't we. Look out! Over there! The Martians are landing.

My view is that the Anglo-Saxons came from where they say they came from. Then again, so did the Danes who are genetically identical to the A-Ss. They are genetically very different from da west side.

OK then, how do you account for the Danelaw divide? As I understand the situation, the Big Genetic Divide is east-west (as per THOBR). All this smaller stuff might (for all I know) reflect differences between A/S and Danish mating practices. Let's not forget that Danes were out and out Vikings ie all-male rape-and-pillage parties; whereas the Anglo-Saxons were from an earlier, somewhat more family-oriented time of migration.

I think the problem still lies in the 'Celtic'/'Germanic' divide. If we agree that it exists then I think for your thesis to be accepted you will need to show that the genetically dominant population, (and this is where I maybe accept the genetics and you don't) with greater concentrations in the west, is the English speaking one and the eastern population is a much later arrival. That way the so-called Celts, as a small trading/elite group, have been absorbed genetically by the native population.

Sorry, but I'm not prepared to jetison an important AE principle -- What is is what was -- just yet. We know the Celtic population was large and was reasonably genetically isolated because that's the way it was in known, historical times: most of Ireland, most of Wales, half of Scotland, Cornwall, probably Cumbria and they kept (keep) themselves to themselves. These A/S's and Danes are also known, historical figures: they came, they conquered, they got swallowed up in the native gene pools when the next lot of dudes popped over.

PS What's the genetic story in Scotland? Since nobody much made any headway up there, we should have a good base-line English-Celtic east-west (and south-north) genetic cline to use in judging other more jigged-up places in the British Isles.
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Duncan


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Is this absolutely correct? Check again to make sure they are really measuring like with like. If it's true then we have to take it on the chin. I don't see how even orthodoxy can handle this since (surely?) there can be no discernible genetic difference between Anglo-Saxons and Danes.


I'm basing what I say on four genetic sources. The Weale et al paper which talks about a divide on either side of Offa's Dyke, but they only sampled along a straight line from east to west. They found English samples to be very similar to the Frisian ones but very different from the Welsh. The Welsh samples were similar to the Irish.

The Capelli et al study sampled 23 places in a grid across Britain and two from Ireland. They also sampled Northern Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Basque region. They found a very close match between the Irish, west Welsh and Basque samples. There was limited continental input into southern Britain, which they said was 'predominantly indigenous' but strong input into Yorkshire, East Anglia and in places like Uttoxeter, which is on the line of the Danelaw boundary. Much of Scotland was similar to southern England in it's make-up, with Orkney and Shetland being closer to Norway.

Sykes sampled 10,000 people, throughout the country, for the publication of his findings. He says the majority of Britons are Celts descended from Spanish tribes who began arriving about 7,000 years ago (the DNA match picked up by Capelli et al). In England, about 64 per cent of people are descended from these Celts, outnumbering the descendants of Anglo-Saxons by about three to one. The proportion of Celts is only slightly higher in Scotland, at 73 per cent. Wales is the most Celtic part of mainland Britain, with 83 per cent.

Lastly there is Bodmer who I've mentioned extensively before.

The A-S told us they are from Northern Germany and Southern Denmark.


I didn't know this (can you supply details?). I thought that only modern orthodoxy assumes they were: Angles from the "angle" of Denmark and Germany, Saxons from...er...well, they have invented a different Saxony from the present one in North Germany and declared it to be Old Saxony.


Tacitus in Germania talks of the Anglii living in the area of modern Denmark and Ptolemy in Geographia says the Saxons lived just to the south of them. The modern area of Angeln is in Denmark. In England itself we have Bede who locates the Angles and Saxons in those same places and then other documentary evidence, e.g. St Boniface in 738 in a letter to 'all god-fearing Catholics sprung from the race and stock of the Angles', and King Alfred uses the term 'Angle-race', and consistently calls his native language English and not Saxon. St Boniface again, writing home from Germany in 738 asking for support for a projected mission to the continental Saxons: 'Have pity on them, because they are wont to say: "We are of one blood and one bone".' Make of all this what you will but its there in the sources.

I think you mean a piece of the Frisian coast bereft of archaeology at the appropriate time and which was then declared to be Angeln, thus conveniently solving two problems -- the appearance of the A/S's in England and the disappearance of the A/S's in Germany. But perhaps you could expand on this.


The village in question is called Feddersen Wierde and is at the mouth of the Weser in modern Germany. Archaeologists working there have shown rising sea levels at the time (450) so there was certainly pressure to leave. By inference there would have been similar pressure all along the edge of the 'low countries' where the A-S are supposed to come from.

Yeah...quite. If you need to augment some Gerry genes why not wish into existence a whole bunch of German mercenaries that stayed on for no obvious reason. And let's lob in some "earlier migrations", why don't we. Look out! Over there! The Martians are landing.


Very funny. Have you ever considered writing professionally? I know it's a mad one but there were foederati living in Britannia at the time, settled former soldiers who took native wives. It was common practice in the Roman Empire. A pleasure as ever.
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Mick Harper
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I'm basing what I say on four genetic sources.

Okay, let's take each one and see where it points us.

The Weale et al paper which talks about a divide on either side of Offa's Dyke, but they only sampled along a straight line from east to west. They found English samples to be very similar to the Frisian ones but very different from the Welsh. The Welsh samples were similar to the Irish.

This is supportive of THOBR since we say that English and Frisian are the most closely related languages and therefore their speakers are likely to be genetically indistinguishable. We also say that the Big Divide (linguistically and therefore genetically) will be between English/Frisian on the one hand and Welsh/Irish on the other. We do not necessarily go with Offa's Dyke as the dividing line -- since modern language patterns and place names put the divide a little to the west -- but we're not far off.

Weale et al is definitely antithetical to current orthodoxy ie the diffusionist model, but is suportive of a really extreme exterminationary model. But even so, for the modern population to be essentially 'Frisian' the A/S's would have had to have really stern non-fraternisation policies.

The Capelli et al study sampled 23 places in a grid across Britain and two from Ireland. They also sampled Northern Germany, Denmark, Norway and the Basque region. They found a very close match between the Irish, west Welsh and Basque samples. There was limited continental input into southern Britain, which they said was 'predominantly indigenous' but strong input into Yorkshire, East Anglia and in places like Uttoxeter, which is on the line of the Danelaw boundary. Much of Scotland was similar to southern England in it's make-up, with Orkney and Shetland being closer to Norway.

This is tremendously good for us. It is true that most of the numbers support both THOBR and the Diffusionist Model of orthodoxy, but the Scotland figure disposes of the DMO once and for all. Not even the gung-hoest A/S-ist would put forward even the most tentative hypothesis for an Anglo-Saxon exterminationist policy in Scotland because they never got there! They only occupied about a tenth of the land area in the far south-east. So how could the present Scottish population have an identical gene-pool to the present English population? Orthodoxy has hitherto explained the glaring linguistic anomaly of English being spoken in Scotland by invoking an entirely cultural model -- that somehow a few Anglo-Saxons in the far south-east were gradually able to persuade everybody else to forsake Celtic and start speaking English. But, I wonder, how are they going to explain the native Celtic Scottish population forsaking their genes as well? Not just diffused genes, remember, but absolute replacement gene therapy.

Sykes sampled 10,000 people, throughout the country, for the publication of his findings. He says the majority of Britons are Celts descended from Spanish tribes who began arriving about 7,000 years ago (the DNA match picked up by Capelli et al). In England, about 64 per cent of people are descended from these Celts, outnumbering the descendants of Anglo-Saxons by about three to one. The proportion of Celts is only slightly higher in Scotland, at 73 per cent. Wales is the most Celtic part of mainland Britain, with 83 per cent.

This is baffling to both sides, though perhaps more for us than for the Orthodox Diffusionist School. We would certainly start by asking what makes Sykes believe that it's the Spanish arriving in Britain rather than Brits arriving in Spain.

Tacitus in Germania talks of the Anglii living in the area of modern Denmark and Ptolemy in Geographia says the Saxons lived just to the south of them. The modern area of Angeln is in Denmark. In England itself we have Bede who locates the Angles and Saxons in those same places and then other documentary evidence, e.g. St Boniface in 738 in a letter to 'all god-fearing Catholics sprung from the race and stock of the Angles', and King Alfred uses the term 'Angle-race', and consistently calls his native language English and not Saxon. St Boniface again, writing home from Germany in 738 asking for support for a projected mission to the continental Saxons: 'Have pity on them, because they are wont to say: "We are of one blood and one bone".' Make of all this what you will but its there in the sources.

This seems fair enough. We also believe the Saxons live "to the south" of the Angles, but in Saxony.

The village in question is called Feddersen Wierde and is at the mouth of the Weser in modern Germany. Archaeologists working there have shown rising sea levels at the time (450) so there was certainly pressure to leave. By inference there would have been similar pressure all along the edge of the 'low countries' where the A-S are supposed to come from.

It is completely typical that, so long as it is supportive of the prevailing paradigm, the meanest morsel gets trumpeted to the highest heaven. One village stands in for not one but two entire peoples. And what sort of village? An estuarine village. What do we know about estuarine villages? Sooner or later they have to be abandoned because river estuaries (before modern engineering methods) always change their course. But no! On this occasion it is because of "rising sea levels" (NB it has to be rising sea levels otherwise this one dreary village could not infer "similar pressure all along the edge of the 'low countries' where the A-S are supposed to come from").

Still we must await developments with breathless anticipation because "rising sea-levels" must by definition be a worldwide phenomen so every coastal tribe everywhere will be on the move. But there's more! "Rising sea-levels" is the current political question de nos jours so these lowly German archaeologists must surely soon be catapulted onto the world stage to tell us all about global warming in the fifth century. Should be fascinating. One paradigm propping up another.

I know it's a mad one but there were foederati living in Britannia at the time, settled former soldiers who took native wives. It was common practice in the Roman Empire.

It's not a mad one...as I say, orthodoxy always puts forward rational hypotheses. Still we ought in fairness ask them why, out of all the foederati living in Britain (and the sources speak of them coming from as far away as Iraq) only the Frisian ones (ie the ones nearest their homes) decided to stay on and transform the gene pool.
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Ishmael


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Turns out Mick's an "Applied Etymologist."

by Aunt Arctic
Thu Jan 4th, 2007 at 09:32:21 PST
My son bought me a book for Christmas. The History of Britain Revealed: The Shocking Truth About the English Language by MJ Harper, who is an applied etymologist. That should be your first clue that this is not a history book, per se. Historians can be very sensitive to "history" books being written by social scientists, because social scientists don't always understand what it is that historians do, or how they do it.

-- Street Prophets
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Duncan


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Not even the gung-hoest A/S-ist would put forward even the most tentative hypothesis for an Anglo-Saxon exterminationist policy in Scotland because they never got there! They only occupied about a tenth of the land area in the far south-east. So how could the present Scottish population have an identical gene-pool to the present English population?

Much of this is true. Capelli et al tell us that much of Scotland, the 'lowlands', are genetically similar to most of England south-west of the Danelaw, which means that genetically they are predominantly 'Celtic', though less so than the thoroughbred bastions in the 'highlands'. They also speak English, as you say. So how can this be? Well, the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria stretched all the way up to Edinburgh, bordered to the west by the British kingdom of Strathclyde and to the north by the Picts. Anglian aggression northwards was dealt a serious blow with the death of their King, Egfrith (great name for a son?), in 685 at Nechtanesmere. This was north of the Forth in Pictish territory. The defeat was decisive, perhaps in the way that Hastings and Bannockburn were. When Kenneth McAlpine unified 'Scotland' in 843, he was able to do so whilst annexing the Anglian kingdom of Lothian. This was much later however, time for any possible policy of apartheid to be used as successfully there as it was elsewhere. Athelstan took it back in 934, however, and it remained contended land for many years (remember, Hadrian's Wall was far to the south of the present border on the east side). Result? A possible case for Anglian dominance, as in Southern England, over a Celtic speaking underclass.

This is baffling to both sides, though perhaps more for us than for the Orthodox Diffusionist School. We would certainly start by asking what makes Sykes believe that it's the Spanish arriving in Britain rather than Brits arriving in Spain.

Interesting point. There are Celts in what is called Galicia in northern Spain (they even have a football team called Celta Vigo)and the Basques and Celts have been shown to be genetically virtually identical. Yet, there are two problems here. Firstly, if the Brits arrived in Spain why don't they still speak English, unless it was Celtic they spoke? I don't know when Celtic ceased to be spoken in Galicia. Something to look into. Then there is the difference between Basque and Celtic languages. Genetically they may be similar but linguistically they're not. As it's Celtic that is spoken in Britain I think we've got to go with idea of Celtic rather than English speakers moving along the western seaboard. This definitely creates problems for THOBR though, because it implies that whichever way the populations moved it was Celtic that was spoken by the earlier immigrants. We're back to the old problem of majority Celtic genes, majority English language.

It is completely typical that, so long as it is supportive of the prevailing paradigm, the meanest morsel gets trumpeted to the highest heaven. One village stands in for not one but two entire peoples.

One swallow doth not a Summer make, as some Middle Englishman somewhere said, which is why the Invasionists are falling back on the idea of smaller numbers of invaders who then outbreed the natives by stopping their male slaves having children whilst they impregnate the women. An interesting aside here is that whilst evidence has been found for a very strong Y-Chromosome match between North German/Danish males and current eastern Britons there is almost no match in the MtDNA which is passed from mother to daughter. This strongly implies that the A-S came as warrior mercenaries to prop up failing British kingdoms (as Gildas and Bede tell us) then took British wives after the Saxon revolt of the early 450s. Food for thought.
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Ishmael


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Duncan wrote:
Yet, there are two problems here. Firstly, if the Brits arrived in Spain why don't they still speak English


But they do. They speak an evolved form of English called Spanish.
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Duncan


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But they do. They speak an evolved form of English called Spanish.


Ishmael, surely you can't expect people to believe that? This is a public forum. THOBR's thesis is credible if, and only if, we accept that Spanish evolved from French which evolved from English over a vey long period of time. For English to take a quantum leap whilst bypassing French is too much to ask. You're going to have to come up with something much more plausible to explain the connection between 'Celtic' Brit and Iberian DNA. They are so much closer to one another than, for example, French and British DNA.
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