Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-09 > 1158851580

From: "Havelock Vetinari" <>
Subject: [DNA] Celts descended from Spanish fishermen, study finds
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2006 11:13:00 -0400

By Guy Adams

Don't tell the locals, but the hordes of British holidaymakers who
visited Spain this summer were, in fact, returning to their ancestral

A team from Oxford University has discovered that the Celts, Britain's
indigenous people, are descended from a tribe of Iberian fishermen who
crossed the Bay of Biscay 6,000 years ago. DNA analysis reveals they
have an almost identical genetic "fingerprint" to the inhabitants of
coastal regions of Spain, whose own ancestors migrated north between
4,000 and 5,000BC.

The discovery, by Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford
University, will herald a change in scientific understanding of

People of Celtic ancestry were thought to have descended from tribes
of central Europe. Professor Sykes, who is soon to publish the first
DNA map of the British Isles, said: "About 6,000 years ago Iberians
developed ocean-going boats that enabled them to push up the Channel.
Before they arrived, there were some human inhabitants of Britain but
only a few thousand in number. These people were later subsumed into a
larger Celtic tribe... The majority of people in the British Isles are
actually descended from the Spanish."

Professor Sykes spent five years taking DNA samples from 10,000
volunteers in Britain and Ireland, in an effort to produce a map of
our genetic roots.

Research on their "Y" chromosome, which subjects inherit from their
fathers, revealed that all but a tiny percentage of the volunteers
were originally descended from one of six clans who arrived in the UK
in several waves of immigration prior to the Norman conquest.

The most common genetic fingerprint belongs to the Celtic clan, which
Professor Sykes has called "Oisin". After that, the next most
widespread originally belonged to tribes of Danish and Norse Vikings.
Small numbers of today's Britons are also descended from north
African, Middle Eastern and Roman clans.

These DNA "fingerprints" have enabled Professor Sykes to create the
first genetic maps of the British Isles, which are analysed in Blood
of the Isles, a book published this week. The maps show that Celts are
most dominant in areas of Ireland, Scotland and Wales. But, contrary
to popular myth, the Celtic clan is also strongly represented
elsewhere in the British Isles.

"Although Celtic countries have previously thought of themselves as
being genetically different from the English, this is emphatically not
the case," Professor Sykes said.

"This is significant, because the idea of a separate Celtic race is
deeply ingrained in our political structure, and has historically been
very divisive. Culturally, the view of a separate race holds water.
But from a genetic point of view, Britain is emphatically not a
divided nation."

Origins of Britons


Descended from Iberian fishermen who migrated to Britain between 4,000
and 5,000BC and now considered the UK's indigenous inhabitants.


Second most common clan arrived from Denmark during Viking invasions
in the 9th century.


Descended from Viking invaders who settled in the British Isles from
AD 793. One of the most common clans in the Shetland Isles, and areas
of north and west Scotland.


The wave of Oisin immigration was joined by the Eshu clan, which has
roots in Africa. Eshu descendants are primarily found in coastal


A second wave of arrivals which came from the Middle East. The Re were
farmers who spread westwards across Europe.


Although the Romans ruled from AD 43 until 410, they left a tiny
genetic footprint. For the first 200 years occupying forces were
forbidden from marrying locally.

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