Are English people really Anglo-Saxon?

Germanic immigration : One third of the British are Anglo-Saxons

Based on genetic analyzes from different epochs, two international research teams have reconstructed the immigration to Great Britain. The analyzes show that about a third of the genome of today's British comes from Anglo-Saxons, who came to the island from the 5th century AD. In addition, the study published in the journal "Nature Communications" showed that the coexistence of Anglo-Saxons and the indigenous population apparently worked well.

Great Britain has been the target of many waves of immigration in the course of history - for example from Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Normans. So far, however, little was known about the extent to which immigrants mixed with the local population.

In the first study, a team led by Stephan Schiffels from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Man in Jena analyzed the remains of ten people who were buried near Cambridge in eastern England. Three graves date from the late Iron Age around 100 BC. BC, the remaining seven from different phases of the Anglo-Saxon period.

Close relationship with Danes and Dutch

Based on the results, the authors estimate that the Anglo-Saxon immigrants who settled the island from the southeast contributed 38 percent to the genetic makeup of today's residents of eastern England. Among modern Welsh and Scots, the proportion is slightly lower, around 30 percent. In addition, the comparison with European genome data showed that the Anglo-Saxons are genetically most closely related to today's residents of Denmark and the Netherlands.

"This is the first direct assessment of the impact of immigration between the 5th and 7th centuries and the mark it left in modern England," said lead author Schiffels in a statement from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge.

And the researchers conclude something else from the study of four people who came from a cemetery in Oakington from the 5th and 6th centuries: two were Anglo-Saxons, one was a native and one was a mixed race, like co-author Duncan Sayer von from the University of Central Lancashire. "The archaeological evidence shows that these people were treated equally after death, and it shows that, despite their different biological heritage, they were all well integrated into the Anglo-Saxon community of Oakington."

The Welsh are most like the "Urbrits"

In the second study, a team led by Daniel Bradley from Trinity College Dublin examined the remains of nine people from northern England. Seven of them came from a Roman cemetery in York in the first centuries AD, one from the late Iron Age around 100 BC. And one from the Anglo-Saxon phase around the year 800.

This study found that the human genome from Roman times came predominantly from the indigenous population and almost coincided with that of the Iron Age. Among the British today, the Welsh people bear the greatest resemblance to this historical gene pool. In a representative of Roman times, the researchers found great similarities with the DNA of today's people from the Middle East and North Africa. This proved how mobile one was even then.

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