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A DNA study of Britons has shown that genetically there is not a unique Celtic group of people in the UK.
According to the data, those of Celtic ancestry in Scotland and Cornwall are more similar to the English than they are to other Celtic groups.
The study also describes distinct genetic differences across the UK, which reflect regional identities.
And it shows that the invading Anglo Saxons did not wipe out the Britons of 1,500 years ago, but mixed with them.
Published in the Journal Nature, the findings emerge from a detailed DNA analysis of 2,000 mostly middle-aged Caucasian people living across the UK.
According to Prof Peter Donnelly who co-led the study, the results show that although there is not a single Celtic group, there is a genetic basis for regional identities in the UK.
"Many of the genetic clusters we see in the west and north are similar to the tribal groupings and kingdoms around, and just after, the time of the Saxon invasion, suggesting these kingdoms maintained a regional identity for many years," he told BBC News.
Prof Donnelly and his colleagues compared genetic patterns now with the map of Britain in about AD 600, after the Anglo Saxons had arrived from what is now southern Denmark and Northern Germany. By then, they occupied much of central and southern England.
"We see striking similarities between the genetic patterns we see now and some of these regional identities and kingdoms we see in AD 60, and we think some of that may well be remnants of the groupings that existed then," he explained.
Genetic study reveals 30% of white British DNA has German ancestry
Analysis over 20 years reveals heavy Anglo-Saxon influence, with French and Danish DNA coming from earlier migrations than the Normans or Vikings.
The Romans, Vikings and Normans may have ruled or invaded the British for hundreds of years, but they left barely a trace on our DNA, the first detailed study of the genetics of British people has revealed.
The analysis shows that the Anglo-Saxons were the only conquering force, around 400-500 AD, to substantially alter the country’s genetic makeup, with most white British people now owing almost 30% of their DNA to the ancestors of modern-day Germans.
People living in southern and central England today typically share about 40% of their DNA with the French, 11% with the Danes and 9% with the Belgians, the study of more than 2,000 people found. The French contribution was not linked to the Norman invasion of 1066, however, but a previously unknown wave of migration to Britain some time after then end of the last Ice Age nearly 10,000 years ago.
Fine-scale genetic variation between human populations is interesting as a signature of historical demographic events and because of its potential for confounding disease studies. We use haplotype-based statistical methods to analyse genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data from a carefully chosen geographically diverse sample of 2,039 individuals from the United Kingdom. This reveals a rich and detailed pattern of genetic differentiation with remarkable concordance between genetic clusters and geography. The regional genetic differentiation and differing patterns of shared ancestry with 6,209 individuals from across Europe carry clear signals of historical demographic events. We estimate the genetic contribution to southeastern England from Anglo-Saxon migrations to be under half, and identify the regions not carrying genetic material from these migrations. We suggest significant pre-Roman but post-Mesolithic movement into southeastern England from continental Europe, and show that in non-Saxon parts of the United Kingdom, there exist genetically differentiated subgroups rather than a general ‘Celtic’ population.
9600 BC Last Ice Age ends and land is colonised by hunter-gatherers
2500 BC Influx of settlers from east and western coastal routes
54 BC Julius Caesar invades Britain and defeats the British tribal chief Cassivellaunus
410 AD Collapse of Roman rule in Britain, which descends into the chaos of a failed state
400-500 AD Large influx of Angles and Saxons
600-700 AD Anglo-Saxon rule throughout much of Britain – Welsh kingdoms successfully resist
865 AD Large-scale invasion by Danish Vikings
1066 AD Norman invasion
Additionally I recognise visual differences in appearance of those from Devon, Cornwall, North East England, Wales etc whilst either living there or visiting.