How to dig deeper


The exciting research into the early languages of Britain has been going on behind closed doors for five years and has only started to reach the public domain in the last year. On this page are some of the references you can follow up, if you want to learn more.

Much of the discussion in books and journals is difficult for the non-specialist, so these webpages are an attempt to put it into plain English in a nutshell.

Three very different studies independently reached similar conclusions:

  • Genetic
  • Language Classification
  • Place-names

Professor stephen oppenheimer




Dr Peter Forster

Peter Forster's work uses a phylogenetic method to understand the connections between ancient languages. In many ways, it is a much better way of looking at the development of languages than the traditional family tree, or "stammbaum" method. Phylogenetic methods, developed to understand genes, allow languages to borrow content and structure from each other.

You can see an example of one of his phylogenetic networks applied to language here.

The software he uses for genes and languages, is available free on his website at Fluxus Engineering.























Forster, P. & Renfrew, C. (eds)
Phylogenetic Methods and the Prehistory of Languages

Cambridge: McDonald Institute Monographs

Oppenheimer, S. The Origins of the British. London: Constable

Forster P, Toth A (2003). "Toward a phylogenetic chronology of ancient Gaulish, Celtic, and Indo-European." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Jul 22;100(15):9079-84 Full text online (free)




The great debate on the origins of Britain's early languages begins on BBC 2 Newsnight, week commencing 27th November 2006 with Win Scutt and Stephen Oppenheimer.

Learning Archaeology

If you're curious about archaeology, but a total beginner, this site will show you how to find out. Here you'll find advice on good books, weblinks and courses.

World Archaeology News

Hear the latest archaeological news from around the world, tune in to Win Scutt on BBC Radio Five Live every Tuesday morning at 3.30.


Like Win Scutt, Stephen Oppenheimer has been researching the origins of the British. But while Win built his hypothesis from place-names, Stephen started with the genetics of living people. His new book is an exciting and convincing read. Click on the link above to buy it at a substantial discount from Amazon.