Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland

Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland

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by Bryan Sykes

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From the best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, a perfect book for anyone interested in the genetic history of Britain, Ireland, and America.
One of the world's leading geneticists, Bryan Sykes has helped thousands find their ancestry in the British Isles. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts, which resulted from a systematic ten-year DNA survey of more than…  See more details below


From the best-selling author of The Seven Daughters of Eve, a perfect book for anyone interested in the genetic history of Britain, Ireland, and America.
One of the world's leading geneticists, Bryan Sykes has helped thousands find their ancestry in the British Isles. Saxons, Vikings, and Celts, which resulted from a systematic ten-year DNA survey of more than 10,000 volunteers, traces the true genetic makeup of the British Isles and its descendants, taking readers from the Pontnewydd cave in North Wales to the resting place of the Red Lady of Paviland and the tomb of King Arthur. This illuminating guide provides a much-needed introduction to the genetic history of the people of the British Isles and their descendants throughout the world.

Editorial Reviews

Boyd Tonkin - Independent [England]
“The science is explained with an infectious zest. His book is so revealing that the new... as well as the old should read it.”
Bryan Sykes' systematic ten-year DNA survey of more than 10,000 people yielded the most comprehensive picture ever made of Great Britain and Ireland's genetic makeup. Using this data, the author develops a history of the British Isles that covers Roman invasions and Norman conquests but extends beyond written records. This fascinating study even includes a chapter about the genetic background of Americans who have descended from British and Irish ancestors. Old history seen in a new light.
Library Journal
Readers picking up this book expecting to learn about the genetic background of the British Isles risk being overwhelmed by long passages full of accounts of wars and invasions, historical figures and place names that are largely unfamiliar to American readers. Sykes's goal, as it was in his The Seven Daughters of Eve and Adam's Curse, is to bring genetics to bear on archaeology and untangle the pedigrees of populations to reveal their origins. Unfortunately, in this case there is too much detailed recounting of each country's history so that by the time we arrive at Sykes's conclusion, it seems anticlimactic. In his favor, Sykes writes in an easy style suitable for popular science material and does make a good case for genetics taking its place alongside archaeology and history as a tool for understanding the past. His discussion of the ups and downs of doing field research provides an interesting look at how a scientist conducts research. Recommended only if there is demand. (Maps, index, and appendix not seen.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/06.]-Ann Forister, Roseville, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)

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Saxons, Vikings, and Celts 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Kansas-Kitty More than 1 year ago
I am a genealogist as well as an archaeology & history buff so this book was right up my alley! Readers like me, who are not trained in biology or science, are able to understand the very complex subject of DNA with Bryan Sykes' fascinating blend of genetics, history & science. He sets a vivid scene for the peopling of the British Isles throughout the millenia, and then adeptly follows through to modern-day descendants in the Isles and around the world and how their ancestral DNA has carried down through the generations. The advent of using DNA in family history research has been a big boon to researching one's roots, and there has been a need for an entertaining explanation of DNA, how it works, how we inherit the traits we have & then pass them on to our descendants. Bryan not only is informative, he is an engaging writer. The book is laced with historical detail and the fascinating story of the DNA carried within us that we inherited from our ancient & modern ancestors, no matter where our ancestors hailed from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Liked it
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sharondelay More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book and am now hooked. I want to find out my maternal lineage, but my Google searches kept turning up nothing on the company or the authors. The website provided went to a dead site. :(
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LN_Adcox More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting, readable and the process leading up to the conclusions was more fascinating then the conclusions themselves. It debunked many misconceptions to include the Arthurian legend in Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain" and the Saxon superiority myth. It described many technical processes in easily understandable terms to include blood groups, DNA mutation as the basis of evolution, and the linkage between mitochondrial DNA (mDNA) and the Y chromosome to our matrilineal and patrilineal ancestors. This process of examining mDNA and Y chromosome mutations identified 36 matrilineal clans; seven of them in Europe. The age of these clans was calculated by using the mDNA mutation rate of one change every 20,000 years. These clans and approximate ages are Jasmine - 10k, Katrine - 15k, Tara - 17K, Tara - 17K, Velda - 17k, Helena - 25k, Xenia - 25k, and Ursula - 45k. Twenty-one paternal clans were identified; eight of them in Europe and five of them in the British Isles. They are Oisin, Wodan, Sigurd, Eshu, and Re. The Y chromosome mutation rate is one change every 1500 years. The conclusions revealed the matrilineal heritage of the entire British Isles as similar, ancient and continuous back to Paleolithic and Mesolithic settlers to include an Iberian and maritime migration. There was a strong Viking matrilineal overlay in Orkney (30%) and Shetland (40%) and a strong Saxon/Dane/Normal overlay in eastern and northern England (10%). There was also a small number of very unusual clans discovered in the southern part of England that originated from sub-Sahara Africa, Syria and Jordan that might be the descendants of Roman slaves. The paternal ancestry of the Isles appears to be predominantly descended from the clan of Oisin which appears to have originated in Iberia. There is also evidence of the Genghis Kahn during the long historical period of clan warfare and during Saxon/Danish invasions and settlement. Basically this effect refers to the tendency of powerful men kill indigenous males and inseminate the good looking women which results in patrilineal descent from only a few successful male ancestors. Overall there appears to be a Woden clan overlay in England indicating that 15% of men are descended from Saxons or Danes (but reaching 20% in what was East Anglia) and 2% are descended from Normans. Great interest in identifying the clan matriarch and patriarch responsible for our individual inheritance has become so popular that an organization, Oxford Ancestors, has been formed to do so.
Richard_Carvel More than 1 year ago
Saxons, Vikings and Celts by Bryan Sykes is an interesting introduction to the subject of DNA mapping of the British Isles. It is not for anyone who already knows something, almost anything, about the history of the Isles or has any familiarity, gained from the local newspaper or otherwise, with the subject of DNA. The tone is avuncular and the intent is, I presume, to engage the attention in this subject of people who otherwise would have no interest in it and perhpas never heard of such a thing. There are stories about the collection of genetic samples in schools and other public places, and the perils faced by the collectors, such as dealing with the false teeth of matriarchs who consent to making a genetic donation. This kind of information is interesting to me up to a point, but the book is far more digressive in such respects that I like. As an attempt to interest a junior high school (if that obscure term may still be used) student in the sciences this book succeeds pretty well, but it will leave more sophisticated readers wishing for more in the nature of the findings and the subject of DNA. By more sophisticated, I mean someone who has taken a college level survey course in English history, no matter how long ago, or who occasionally reads the science page of a newspaper. One aspect of the book that is not high-lighted, but in my opinion is definitely present, is the financial interest of the author. Like many well educated people who appear on PBS fund raisers to make presentations that feature their books, Dr. Sykes has an interest in how successfully he can interest the reader in the subject of his book. The television presenters are interested in selling books, and Dr. Sykes has written other books, so I assume he is interested in selling them as well. What I suspect is of far greater interest than book sales is DNA testing itself. Dr. Sykes has a business that performs DNA testing for a fee. He mentions in passing a number of times that people have come to his business for testing. The first such mention is in the preface to the North American edition of the book. The business is Oxford Ancestors Ltd. I went to the company web site to see what I could learn there. As I suspected, there are products for sale. There is nothing wrong with this and one is entitled to sell one's products that are legal to be sold. I merely point out that the book ties in to something else that is not obvious from the information on the cover. To sum up, the book is interesting but unlikely to provide much of value to the common reader. It is probably a very good introduction to the subject for someone who is wholly ignorant of its existence, and would be a nice gift for a teenager who needs a gentle push towards more serious consideration of science as an area of study in college. For the rest of us, there is always the public library.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an outstanding book that explains genetic DNA respective to Saxons, Vikings, and Celts and their periods throughout Europe as well as the islands. Highly recommend this book to those interested in Geneology. With this book I was able to determine my paternal ancestry to be either Hiberno-Norman (Norman-Irish) or a descendent of the MacMurchada Clan Gaelic Irish). Irish Pedigrees has similar input as well and I have traced my paternal ancesters back to Northeastern Ireland as far back as 1560, before that is unfounded at this time. My ancestors change the Surname to Morell for reasons of persecution for political and religious reasons and because of the name MacMurchada who was cursed by many Irish. You will have to read a book on MacMurchada to find out why.