Europe in 1000 A.D.

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If you look at the map above, and separate out Cornwall, you’ll see a pretty distinct north-south line that divides the British Isles between east and west, between what we now think of as Anglo-Saxon and Celtic.

It turns out that there *is* a very ancient genetic divide that mirrors this line, but that in fact it’s far older than Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans or even Romans and Picts, and that instead, it dates back to ice-age Europe. According to the DNA evidence, two distinct groups colonized the British Isles toward the end of the last ice age.

One came from the west, along a coastal route, possibly as a maritime culture not dissimilar to today’s Pacific Northwest cultures in terms of resource use, if not culture. This group had survived the last glacial maximum in a western Mediterranean refuge.

The other came from the east, overland, north of the Alpine ice-cap, and across the great low-lying fertile plains that are now mostly below the North Sea. They were big game hunters and they had survived the last glacial maximum in a Black Sea ice-age refuge.

(For more on the above, see Stephen Oppenheimer’s book, “The Origins of the British: A DNA Detective Story.”)

Evidently the two groups did not play well together and if DNA evidence is to be believed (and it must be), they did not mix much over their upwards of 10k years of neighborly existence.

Surprisingly, again as revealed by undeniable DNA evidence, all of your supposed Viking, Norman, Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and what have you invasions have contributed less than 5% to the DNA of the British Isles which again, overwhelmingly tends to date back to the ice age.

I get downvoted every time I post anything about Oppenheimer’s findings, I think because many of us are so wedded to the Victorian myths about who the peoples of the British Isles are. But the DNA evidence doesn’t lie. It cannot lie. It simply is.

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