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The United Celtic Kingdom.
September 21, 2006 7:03 AM   Subscribe

The United Celtic Kingdom. A new study shows that most British are decended from the Celtic tribes that crossed over from Spain 7,000 years ago. Only 20% of the English are decended from Viking stock, even fewer are Anglo-Saxons.
posted by empath (42 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, dang. Interesting stuff. This brings up a question I'm curious about: what actually happened to the Celtic language among these people?
posted by graymouser at 7:10 AM on September 21, 2006


Interesting. A certain percentage of Scottish and Welsh people are going to be royally pissed off at the news, I'd imagine.
posted by jack_mo at 7:17 AM on September 21, 2006


It turned into Welsh, essentially, with an outpost in Cornwall in the form of Cornish. (Paging languagehat for more detailed explanation!)
posted by greycap at 7:17 AM on September 21, 2006


I guess the Romans didn't make any babies?
posted by washburn at 7:22 AM on September 21, 2006


I don't think Romans migrated to to the British Isles in any significant quantity, and in any case, wasn't the army mostly composed of 'barbarians', anyway?
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on September 21, 2006


A larger percentage of the English I'd think, Jack_mo
posted by bonaldi at 7:32 AM on September 21, 2006


won't somebody think of the WASPs?
posted by empath at 7:32 AM on September 21, 2006


Well, this is all very controversial and complicated stuff. The Wikipedia article on Anglo-Saxons has been a hot-bed of discourse on this issue for over a year now.
posted by stbalbach at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2006


There was some Roman migration to England--London, for example, grew up from a Roman outpost called Londinium. Dozens of other towns and cities throughout Britain also once had Roman names. But the Romans did not make nearly as much of a colonization push into Britain as they did into Gaul and Iberia--one of the (many) reasons that English is not a Romance language.

As for empath's question about barbarians, Wikipedia indicates here that many of the Roman soldiers may have been Greeks...

...the initial language of London was Latin with much Greek spoken due to the presence of Greek speaking Roman soldiers and businessmen.

And there's been a long-standing theory that King Arthur was actually a Sarmatian mercenary.
posted by Iridic at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2006


Well my mother's Spanish and my father's English so that makes me a little bit more Spanish than I was. Huh? Anyway, I've never thought of myself as part Celt before. I quite like the idea, now that I think about it.
posted by ob at 7:41 AM on September 21, 2006


The "Scots" moved into Scotland within historical memory, from Ireland, about the same time as the Anglo-Saxons. I mean, the people called themselves Scottish and spoke Gaelic, and who became rulers in Scotland.

There has been so much contradictory genetic research about prehistoric migration into Britain. I feel like I have to just wait 20 years (or more) before any consensus will emerge.
posted by jb at 7:42 AM on September 21, 2006


The newspaper called me a spic! I demand reparations.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:44 AM on September 21, 2006


Are you sure we're not descended from the western Europeans that the Celts conquered a while before that? (Or maybe even Neanderthals!)
posted by davy at 7:45 AM on September 21, 2006


So he means to say that I'm actually related to the English. That's just great. They just went from genocidal to fratricidal.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:48 AM on September 21, 2006


But seriously, this study is based on some assumptions that aren't widely agreed upon. For instance, it uses the term "Pictish Celts," and not everyone agrees that the Picts were celts. There isn't enough surviving pictish language to tell linguistically, and there aren't any Picts to test genetically.

Also, it reinforces what was pretty much widely accepted: English people are mongrels. I would imagine that nearly every ethnically english person has ancestry that includes at least angle-saxon-jute and brythonic celt, and Norse, whether viking or Norman. There's been a lot of mixing over many hundreds of years.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:52 AM on September 21, 2006


The "Welsh Windbag" speaks:
Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university?

Was it because our predecessors were thick? Does anybody really think that they didn't get what we had because they didn't have the talent or the strength or the endurance or the commitment? Of course not. It was because there was no platform upon which they could stand.

Oh wait, what, you're all Celts too? Oh damn.
posted by orthogonality at 7:56 AM on September 21, 2006


My question re Romans points to a difference between the article and the Mefi summary of it. The article says that the Brits are descended from Celts who *began* coming to England 7,000 years ago, whereas the summary says that they all came over around that time.

A worthwhile question might be whether it's possible to ditinguish between different waves of Celtic migration. Did Roman settlers register as "Celts" in this study? Was there Celtic genetic material among the Normans? Etc. One wonders whether this is more a result a small group of successful breeders established c. 7000 years ago, or more a result of continuing and repeated migrations.
posted by washburn at 7:57 AM on September 21, 2006


Well, there goes the specialness of me being Black Irish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:03 AM on September 21, 2006


Apparently, we must update George Wigg: "the wogs start at Calais" Birmingham.
posted by orthogonality at 8:04 AM on September 21, 2006


washburn writes "A worthwhile question might be whether it's possible to ditinguish between different waves of Celtic migration."


Yeah, but this study just uses Y-chromosome ("who's your Daddy") not whole genomes.

Here's some stuff on earlier waves of migration: Paleolitjic waves-of-advance: http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/CAJ_2004_v14_p53.pdf
Neolithic Y Chromosome Gene flow: http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/AJHG_2004_v75_Semino.pdf, http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/AJHG_2004_v74_p1023-1034.pdf

“Inference of Neolithic Population Histories using Y-chromosome Haplotypes”: http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/Examining_2003_chapter6.pdf

Relating it to physical anthropology, “Congruent distribution of Neolithic painted pottery and ceramic figurines with Y-chromosome lineages”: http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications/A_2002_v76_p707-714.pdf

Index of above and much much more: http://hpgl.stanford.edu/publications.html
posted by orthogonality at 8:18 AM on September 21, 2006


So, Bullfinch is wrong?
THE ILLUSTRIOUS poet, Milton, in his “History of England,” is the author whom we chiefly follow in this chapter. 1
According to the earliest accounts, Albion, a giant, and son of Neptune, a contemporary of Hercules, ruled over the island, to which he gave his name. Presuming to oppose the progress of Hercules in his western march, he was slain by him. 2
Another story is that Histion, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah, had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alemannus, and Britto, from whom descended the French, Roman, German, and British people. 3
Rejecting these and other like stories, Milton gives more regard to the story of Brutus, the Trojan, which, he says, is supported by “descents of ancestry long continued, laws and exploits not plainly seeming to be borrowed or devised, which on the common belief have wrought no small impression; defended by many, denied utterly by few.” The principal authority is Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose history, written in the twelfth century, purports to be a translation of a history of Britain brought over from the opposite shore of France, which, under the name of Brittany, was chiefly peopled by natives of Britain who, from time to time, emigrated thither, driven from their own country by the inroads of the Picts and Scots. According to this authority, Brutus was the son of Silvius, and he of Ascanius, the son of Æneas, whose flight from Troy and settlement in Italy are narrated in “Stories of Gods and Heroes.”
...
Brutus, guided now, as he thought, by divine direction, sped his course towards the west, and, arriving at a place on the Tyrrhene sea, found there the descendants of certain Trojans who, with Antenor, came into Italy, of whom Corineus was the chief. These joined company, and the ships pursued their way till they arrived at the mouth of the river Loire, in France, where the expedition landed, with a view to a settlement, but were so rudely assaulted by the inhabitants that they put to sea again, and arrived at a part of the coast of Britain, now called Devonshire, where Brutus felt convinced that he had found the promised end of his voyage, landed his colony, and took possession.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:56 AM on September 21, 2006


My annoying Irish-American in-laws are going to get three times as annoying when they hear about this. Who do I have to pay to get this news suppressed?
posted by rogue haggis landing at 9:04 AM on September 21, 2006


After doing Genealogy crap for a little while now, I've come to the conclusion that anyone that can trace their ancestry back to the UK also has some story about how their family's name at the time is some mangled version of some knight that came over with William in 1066.

So, I've come to the conclusion that either everyone inhabiting the islands prior to 1066 was killed outright, or they didn't have family names of any importance. Or, I've just had some odd luck to be related back to William's posse on both sides of my family in numerous branches.
posted by thanotopsis at 9:19 AM on September 21, 2006


So this explains the Great Tenerife Migration, then. Hunh.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:42 AM on September 21, 2006


Hey ortho, ya got anything on this that's written in English major's lingo as opposed to Scientese?

As for me, I've always known I was a mutt. My geneological question concerns how my British forebears got over here in the 1700s, i.e. if we were indentured or "transported" or both; who their forebears were I haven't a clue and care even less. Opposed as I am to Essentialism I see no contemporary application for such data; the only real reason I can see for giving a damn about one's "genetic heritage" concerns planning for the future, deciding whether to reproduce and whom to do so with. (Those Mefitesses whose gene pool ain't fucked up enough already better contact me PDQ; I'll have my lawyer draw up "Waiver Of All Expectation Of Paternal Support" and "He Told Me All Kinds Of Crap Runs In His Family And I Like 'Em That Way" forms and tell you what we're charging that week.)
posted by davy at 9:50 AM on September 21, 2006


1066 = worst year evah!
posted by stinkycheese at 9:52 AM on September 21, 2006


"Hey ortho, ya got anything on this that's written in English major's lingo as opposed to Scientese? "


Read Sykes's popular books.
posted by orthogonality at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2006


thanotopsis - I've got one of those. And so has my wife. I've come to the conclussion that it's most likely true but not particularly significant, since each time you go up a generation the populations shrinks and the number of ancestors expand I'm probably related to most of the population of England circa 1066.
posted by Artw at 9:57 AM on September 21, 2006


Artw writes "I'm probably related to most of the population of England circa 1066."


Yes, your intuition is correct, and Joseph Chang has a statistical model for it:
with high probability for large n, in each generation at least 1.77 lg n generations before the present, all individuals who have any descendants among the present-day individuals are actually ancestors of all present-day individuals.
Given that, if we assume England in 1066 had a population of one million, it would take about 35 generations for you to be descended form everybody in England in 1066 who has any remaining descendants. Assuming a generation is 20 years, and ignoring in-migrations, we can assume any English person born after 1772 is descended from all English persons (who have any remaining descendent) of 1066.
posted by orthogonality at 11:15 AM on September 21, 2006


Chang's paper: http://www.stat.yale.edu/%7Ejtc5/papers/Ancestors.pdf
posted by orthogonality at 11:17 AM on September 21, 2006


Only 20% of the English are decended from Viking stock, even fewer are Anglo-Saxons.

Bear in mind, it's mathematically probable 100% of British people have at least one Viking or Anglo-Saxon ancestor.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:20 PM on September 21, 2006


Iridic writes "As for empath's question about barbarians, Wikipedia indicates here that many of the Roman soldiers may have been Greeks...

"...the initial language of London was Latin with much Greek spoken due to the presence of Greek speaking Roman soldiers and businessmen."


Just because they spoke Greek doesn't mean they were Greek. Koine Greek was the lingua franca of the time.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:29 PM on September 21, 2006


I used to be terribly embarrassed that my name was of Norman extraction. All the other kids had kewl Celtic origins, and they'd all point and laugh and say "Norman is an ambulance" and how Conan was probably a Celt, and if he wasn't he wished he was. Oh how cruel those kids could be.

Then I discovered to be Norman is to be a mix of Gaul (like in Asterix) and freaking Viking, baby! We took over Paris and swapped it for beachfront property so we could fight Pirates!

And now it turns out the Celts are actually Spanish? No way Conan would ever Spanish. IN YOUR FACE, CELTS!
posted by Sparx at 3:45 PM on September 21, 2006


At least the Brits come from Spanish Celts and not Spanish Turds (i.e. the Turdetani).
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:38 PM on September 21, 2006


Until remarkably recently, for most societies over most of the globe, "conquest" was usually Y-chromosomal: they'd kill the "best" men and rape the women. What was so different about William the Bastard's bunch? Was it that they brought their own women over?
posted by davy at 9:11 PM on September 21, 2006


Bear in mind, it's mathematically probable 100% of British people have at least one Viking or Anglo-Saxon ancestor.

Except the jewish ones.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:14 PM on September 21, 2006


No way Conan would ever Spanish.

Conan was Cimmerian.
posted by homunculus at 10:45 PM on September 21, 2006


Wherever he's buried, Enoch Powell is spinning like a dreidel.
posted by rob511 at 11:00 PM on September 21, 2006


#Mayor Curley: Except the jewish ones.

Wiki says about Ashkenazis:
The majority of matrilineal mitochondrial markers (~60%) are consistent with intermarriage with local European women.
so most British Jews with British roots also have Celt, AS, Viking, and Norman ancestors.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:03 PM on September 21, 2006


Cimmerian = welsh, apparently.
posted by Artw at 8:14 AM on September 22, 2006


See also Milesians, and the suppositions about Kenneth Val Dub.
posted by dhartung at 6:58 PM on September 22, 2006


It appears the author of this "study" and the associated book are not of academic credential and targeting a popular audience. I would take this FPP with great reserve. See this thread.
posted by stbalbach at 7:32 AM on September 23, 2006


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