Sunday, 30 June, 2002, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK

English and Welsh are races apart


Gene scientists claim to have found proof that the Welsh are the "true" Britons.

The research supports the idea that Celtic Britain underwent a form of ethnic cleansing by Anglo-Saxons invaders following the Roman withdrawal in the fifth century.


Genetic tests show clear differences between the Welsh and English


It suggests that between 50% and 100% of the indigenous population of what was to become England was wiped out, with Offa's Dyke acting as a "genetic barrier" protecting those on the Welsh side.


And the upheaval can be traced to this day through genetic differences between the English and the Welsh.


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.


But 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.


Ethnic links: Many races share common bonds


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.

In April last year, research for a 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 tens of 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."


Many thanks for this. I've done a brief summary for the Time Team website,

which may be of interest on here: The genetics and statistical methodology is

too complicated for me to summarise quickly, but a few points may be helpful

in summary:


1. The towns covered in the sample are North Walsham, Fakenham, Bourne,

Southwell, Ashbourne, Abergele, and Llangefni (on Anglesey). Buccal swabs for

DNA testing were taken from 313 males in these towns.


2. DNA samples were also taken from 94 males in Friesland (northern

Netherlands) and 83 males in Norway.


3. "The Central English towns were genetically very similar, whereas the two

North Welsh towns differed significantly both from each other and from the

Central English towns. When we compared our data with an additional 177

samples collected in Friesland and Norway, we found that the Central English

and Frisian samples were statistically indistinguishable."


4. "The best explanation for our findings is that the Anglo-Saxon cultural

transition in Central England coincided with a mass immigration from the

continent. Such an event would simultaneously explain both the high Central

English-Frisian affinity and the low Central English-North Welsh affinity."


5. A mass migration need not have taken place if continuous in-migration took

place over a sufficiently long period. This is unlikely as the period

involved would be extremely long.


6. Any in-migration could have taken place prior to the Anglo-Saxon period

(as far back as 425 BC), but again this is unlikely as there is little

evidence for this in the archaeological or historical record.


7. "Although our models assume a single instantaneous migration event, we

would also expect a more gradual process lasting several generations but

still resulting in the same degree of admixture (a picture which may fit the

historical data better to produce very similar genetic patterns."


8. "We note, however, that our data do not allow us to distinguish an event

that simply added to the indigenous Central English male gene pool from one

where indigenous males were displaced elsewhere or one where indigenous males

were reduced in number."


9. "This study shows that the Welsh border was more of a genetic barrier to

Anglo-Saxon Y chromosome gene flow than the North Sea. Remarkably, we find

that the resultant genetic differentiation is still discernible in the

present day. These results indicate that a political boundary can be more

important than a geophysical one in population genetic structuring."


10. The authors do not deal with the question of how representative these

towns might be of any wider population.


Steve Platt

These are indeed very interesting and thought provoking results but its a

pity that at the moment we have just the one transect from a limited number

of towns. I think also that the association with the Anglo-Saxons is not

really as clear as the authors think it might be. What about later settlers

in the Danelaw?


Certainly it would be a considerable help if this work could be extended,

taking and comparing more samples from the length and breadth of the British

Isles but also looking at the wider context in Scandinavia. It would be a

really interesting project.

But who would pay for it?


Paul Barford

And not to forget potential earlier settlers from the Belgic & Saxon Coast,

given that the tim eframe given as an approximation is "in the last 2500

years" this could as well include all potential arrivals throughout the Iron

Age in southeast England...

That could make both Welsh and Englishm "true" Brits...

As almost always with DNA studies, the data might be solid, but the

interpretation is still a matter that leaves a wide margin for discussion.

All the best,



Just a thought.

What if the european gene pool is consistent across the continent and it is the the welsh data that is the result of migration from perhaps Ireland?

John Wood


Paul Erik Johnson <paul-britarch@PAULEUS.DEMON.CO.UK> wrote:

>I read somewhere that the term "Welsh" was derived from the

>old Anglo-Saxon word "Walless" (not sure if that's the correct spelling)

>which meant "foreigner" and that the Anglo-Saxons applied it to anyone

>in Britain who wasn't Anglo-Saxon because they didn't regard themselves as British.

>So all the native Britons were refered to as "Welch" or "Foreigners".


Paul -


This is true. Welsh  came from the Anglo-Saxon word Wealth or Wylisc meaning foriegners. Hence Wales and also 'Cornwall' (ie, the Land of the Cornovian Welsh).


John Morris suggests that the Welsh (ex Romano-British) of the post-Roman period adopted the name Combrogi meaning 'fellow-countrymen' (cives in Latin) to distinguish themselves from the invading Anglo-Saxons and Romans abroad. This, he says, has its modern form in Cymry and Cumbri 'still the national name of the Welsh and of the north-west British' (ie, Cumbria).


John Morris has some bits about this in his book 'The Age of Arthur' (dont be put off by the title).


Gavin Duley gavinduley@netscape.net


Cromwell's sunken fleet with its 2bn treasure may, at last, be raised

By Paul Kelbie Scotland Correspondent

04 July 2002


A project to locate a sunken fleet of 60 Cromwellian ships loaded with treasure worth 2bn was launched yesterday.


For more than 350 years the gold and silver coins and plates have lain undetected, but not forgotten, at the bottom of the river Tay near Dundee.

Oliver Cromwell's enforcer, General George Monck, sacked Dundee in 1651, reducing the port to ashes, massacring its inhabitants and stealing the possessions of the local merchants.


The attack was part of a campaign to crush remaining royalist support in Aberdeen, Stirling and Dundee at the end of the 1642-51 civil wars.

Because the walled city was regarded as the most secure place in Scotland, many of the country's wealthy gentry, including the Viscount of Newburgh and the earls of Tweeddale and Buccleuch, had stored their most prized possessions there.


But few had bargained for the cunning of General Monck, the determination of his 7,000-strong Puritan army and the power of his cannon. Monck discovered, through a spy that he sent to infiltrate the defences, that the army within the city regularly got drunk in the morning which offered an opportunity to attack. Monck overcame Dundee's defences with ease, and in the bloody aftermath up to 5,000 citizens were slaughtered as the victorious troops went on a rampage of rape, pillage and plunder.


But Monck was not so fortunate with the treacherous waters of the river Tay.

As Dundee burnt, Monck decided to take his loot to Leith on the first leg of its journey to England. He ordered his men to commandeer more than 60 ships from Dundee's harbour and loaded them with an estimated 2.5m worth of coins, plus tons of valuable trophies including ornamental plates made of precious metals, religious artefacts stolen from churches and monasteries around Scotland.

But as they set sail in September 1651 a storm blew across the Tay estuary. All 60 of the ships sank in heavy seas as, crowded together, they were driven into one of the river's notorious sandbanks. It is not known how many died in the disaster, although Monck survived.


The Firth of Tay is only 40ft deep, but the treasure has remained elusive to generations of hunters because the dangerous waters have foiled previous salvage attempts.


Now a Coventry-based diving firm, Subsea Explorer, is to join scientists from the University of St Andrews and Scottish Natural Heritage in an acoustic survey of the estuary, which could lead to the recovery of the sunken booty.


While the university and Scottish Natural Heritage are surveying the estuary with a view to designating it a special conservation area, the dive company is "piggy backing" in an attempt to find Monck's loot.


The treasure hunters plan to spend the next 10 weeks using stae-of-the-art acoustic equipment to map the river bed and locate the wrecks which, according to ancient maritime charts, are buried deep in sand about three miles south-east of Budden Ness.


Gary Allsop, the chief executive of Subsea Explorer, whose company has taken part in dives to the wreck of the Titanic, described the hunt as "one of the most exciting and sexiest jobs I've ever undertaken". He added: "It has everything: history, technology and the romance of buried treasure.


"We have the best technology and the best people behind us and I'm confident that if there is sizeable amounts of metal, for example gold and s ilver bullion down there, we will find it. If so, it will be of major historical and archaeological significance."



2billion in Scots waters

Jul 4 2002

James Moncur


A TREASURE hunt for 2billion of sunken booty in Scottish waters began yesterday.


An underwater search vessel used in the blockbuster movie Titanic will be mother ship to two mini subs during the hi-tech hunt.


And the grandson of legendary oceanographer Jacques Cousteau is backing the venture in the Tay Estuary.


Philippe Cousteau, 22, a history student at St Andrews University, has held talks in Dundee with the search team.


Subsea Explorer Ltd are leading the 1million hunt for the treasure of General George Monk.


The Cromwellian enforcer's fleet of 60 ships are believed to have ended up on the bottom of the Tay in 1651.


The ships carried 2.5million in money and spoils sacked from Dundee, where gentry from across Scotland had been storing valuable property.


Monk's fleet was lost within sight of Dundee harbour, between Broughty Castle and Tayport.


The Academic Celdysh, which featured in Titanic, will be mother ship to the search subs Mir 1 and Mir 2.


Subsea chief executive Gary Allsopp said: "We have the best technology and the best people behind us and I'm confident that if there are sizeable amounts of gold and silver bullion down there, we will find it.


"If so it will be of major historical and archaeological significance to the City of Discovery and the UK."


Dundee East MSP John McAllion said: "Monk's visit to Dundee had a disastrous effect on the city's economy.


"I hope this project brings Dundee more benefits than Monk did."


Lottery grant for Iron Age hillfort


July 2, 2002 10:35


An iron age hillfort in North Norfolk which gives a rare insight into the prehistoric age can be preserved thanks to a 94,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.


The grant is going to the Norfolk Archaeological Trust for the purchase and conservation of earthworks at Bloodgate Hill, South Creake, near Fakenham.


They have been severely eroded by ploughing since the advent of the diesel tractor and the trust is hoping to carry out a very limited excavation and then preserve it.


The earthworks will be put down to grass to establish a hay meadow over the site.


There will also be a small car park and a low-key interpretation scheme so that visitors can appreciate what survives of the once impressive monument.


The trust is looking for about 130,000 towards the project and grant applica-tions to other bodies have been submitted.


Bloodgate Hill used to be known as Burgh Dikes and the banks were well preserved until they were partially levelled in 1827.



Remains of bronze age burial pit discovered


The remains of a Bronze Age burial pit have been discovered in Co Longford in the Irish Republic.


The find was made by Irish and American university archaeological students near the town of Granard.


A four-week dig at the site - long-believed to be the location of a 12th century town - linked the area to the much earlier Bronze Age.


A spokesman said artefacts uncovered in the area had confirmed the existence of a middle pit from that era that had been used for burials.


The site has now been covered, following completion of initial excavations, to deter sightseers and would-be treasure-hunters with metal-detectors.


The operation indicated the existence of up to 15 houses in the area, not far from a one-time ecclesiastical base.


The archaeologists, from universities in Florida and Galway, plan to return to the location next year to continue their assessment of its importance.


Story filed: 09:58 Saturday 29th June 2002


Archaeologists unearth stash of bronze Chinese dildos


Archaeologists in China have uncovered seven ancient bronze dildos in a Han Dynasty tomb.


The Straits Times quotes the Beijing Morning Post as saying this is the first time so many have been unearthed from that era (206 BC - AD 25).


The dildos were cast from a mould, suggesting they were made by a specialist artisan.


Archaeologists say the dildos uncovered in Xian could have been used by eunuchs.


They also say palace maids may have used them on sexually-deprived imperial concubines.


They expect to find more dildoes in the city in north-western Shaanxi province.


Story filed: 12:12 Sunday 30th June 2002


First humans 'small brained'

By Helen Briggs

BBC News Online science reporter           


Larger brain size was probably not the only driving force behind the exodus of early humans from Africa.


A third skull found at the camp of some of the the first humans to leave the continent is much smaller than the others.


It would have housed a brain less than half the size of that of modern humans.

Many scientists believe that early humans arose in Africa, then went on to conquer the world.


How such primitive humans were able to adapt to the new environments they encountered on their travels is a central question of the Out-of-Africa hypothesis.

One theory is that they had larger brains and were more intelligent. Fossils found at an archaeological site in Dmanisi, Georgia, have until now supported this idea.


Three skulls some 1.75 million years old have been uncovered there - the biggest collection of well-preserved early human fossils known anywhere in the world.


My feeling is there should be a combination of reasons, not just one reason, that forced people out of Africa


The first two skulls have room for relatively large brains - 800 cubic centimetres, or about three-quarters that of modern humans.


But the brain of the third find is only about 600 cubic centimetres, and came from a more petite individual, with a short nose, thin brow and huge teeth.


Professor David Lordkipanidze of the Georgian Academy of Sciences in Tbilisi is one of the scientists who discovered the latest fossil.


He says the three probably belong to the same species, Homo erectus, thought to be the first to leave Africa.


Like modern humans, there may be natural variation in shapes and sizes of these primitive humans, he says.


It is also possible that the smaller, more lightly built individual is female.


The small brain size of the new skull "suggests that enlargement of the brain was not the only reason to leave Africa," says Professor Lordkipanidze.


"My feeling is there should be a combination of reasons, not just one reason, that forced people out of Africa."


The new fossil shows how primitive early humans were in their small brain size and great physical variation, says Professor Chris Stringer, head of human origins at London's Natural History Museum.


Commenting on the find, revealed in the journal Science, he told BBC News Online: "It is still unclear whether this indicates that more than one species of primitive human is represented at Dmanisi."


Homo habilis: The first species in the genus Homo, dating back 1.9 million years, and found only in Africa


The new skull shows clear resemblances to the smaller-sized group of fossils attributed to Homo habilis from East Africa, he adds.


This may well provide a clue to the ancestry of the Dmanisi humans, says Professor Stringer.


"Their small brain sizes and primitive technology suggest that the first exodus of humans from Africa around two million years ago did not necessarily require special new adaptations or evolutionary changes but may have related more to extensions of African habitats into western Asia," he said.


"Perhaps these early humans initially underwent range expansions in African-like environments that were rather familiar to them, rather than making pioneering moves into the unknown."