The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story

The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story

by Stephen Oppenheimer


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History has long maintained that the Anglo-Saxon overtaking of the Iron Age Celts was the origin of the British people. Celtic Britain reconstructs the peopling of Britain — through a study of genetics, climatology, archaeology, language, culture, and history — and overturns that myth and others. The Anglo-Saxons, who supposedly conquered the Celts, contributed only five to ten percent of the British gene pool. The "Atlantic Celts," long believed to have migrated to Britain from Central Europe around 300 BC during the Iron Age, can be linked genetically to the people of Basque country. And linguistic evidence suggests that, besides Celtic languages, a Germanic-type language similar to Norse was also spoken in Britain long before the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons. In this groundbreaking study, Stephen Oppenheimer explaines the surprising roots of the present-day cultural identities of the English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786718900
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 11/28/2006
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Stephen Oppenheimer of the University of Oxford is an expert in the use of DNA to track migrations. His Out of Eden rewrote the prehistory of man's peopling of the world in a thesis since confirmed in Science, while Eden in the East: the Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia challenged the view of the origins of Polynesians as Taiwanese rice farmers.

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The Origins of the British : A Genetic Detective Story 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
ablueidol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Book argues that three entry sites into the UK after the last ice age. Founder populations in the west from Spain, south east, Germanic and north west from north east Europe set the pattern which other cultural/linguistic movements followed. But a tad over technical for a general bookAnd the English language reflects the pre and Roman period German roots and not evidence of a Celtic ethnic cleansing.So you Celts are really escaped from Spain and were not driven out of England by the post Romans there!
tristram on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A difficult, technical book, more so than Oppenheimer's 'Out of Eden', but still well worth the effort if you are interested in British prehistory. Genetic markers reveal where the people of Britain came from and when they came.
Malarchy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Origins of the British still make for contentious and fascinating debate amongst the people of these isles and this work adds strongly to the discussion. The purpose of the book appears to be to establish genetic analysis to the existing archaelogical and linguistic history built up over the centuries. Genetics is clearly still in it's infancy but it is a massive step forward in understanding the past. Oppenheimer's work lays out the genetic influences of the British population (excluding post-WWII immigration) and his findings are well worth knowing. The genetic analysis sets out the post-Ice Age colonisation phases and the most significant plus points of the book are the genetic debunking of wipeout theories and the co-existance of Germanic, Scandinavian, and Celtic peoples in Britain. The spread of western European peoples from Ice Age refuges and the development of culture and language inevitably means that the peoples of those countries are somewhat similar. What Oppenheimer's analysis of the genetic research shows is that there are observable differences and that those differences can trace a history of Britain that has had far less intrusion from overseas than is typically suggested. There are two issues that I have with the book - the writing is not of the highest quality and the genetics themselves are not well explained. The writing does not flow and is tough going, I did feel as though I was reading a dissertation at times and not an especially well written one. This is not really popular science and the logical chain is not easy to follow as Oppenheimer leaps into asides and tangents. I really do though wish that the genetics had been better and more fully exposed. Traditional history is interesting but hardly new. The movement of genes deserved a fuller treatment and there is not one point in Oppenheimer's work in which he lays out explicitly the genetic map of Britain. Overall, this is the sort of book to read if you really do want to delve into some of the science and the emerging picture that genetics paints of north western Europe. It is not a light read and it raises more questions than it answers but the broad overview that the detail conjures is a great platform for better understanding who we British are.
priamel on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
1.5 stars is my code for 'I gave up'. I got as far as page 140 or so trying to ignore all the errors in linguistics, then 'sub-structural' for 'substratal' was just too much for me. The stuff on genetics may well be fine, and I didn't get far enough to encounter much history.
fnielsen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oppenheimer advances a theory of the origin of the british people based on analysis of genetics. His analysis bring him to say that most of the irish, welsh, scotish and english people arrived just after the ice age, and that celtic and saxons and angles were not a major invasion; celtics were not from southern Germany and were never in England. If he is right quite a number of other books needs to be rewritten! Oppenheimer bases much of his argument on he own analysis of y-chromosome distribution across Europe. He seems to identify his own haplotypes - that are not described in detail. Furthermore he uses some kind of kernel density modeling where it is not apparent how much variation in the estimate there is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This work is very comprehensive. A knowledge of clinical genetics and DNA would be very helpful to the reader, however. Other books that deal with the same subject are: the recent one by Professor Brian Sykes of Oxford; and of course, the one by Professor Spencer Wells. The Sykes book deals with the Spanish origins of the Irish Celts, as well. The Spencer Wells book deals with the general distribution of peoples world wide. ----/s/ Fredrick Saleh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fun and enlightening in the premises that the Brits are more Scandanavian that German. If you have a patience for all of the facts and details to follow this book from start to finish, you can't find a better book on this subject.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Why does author not confine his studies to the British Isle of Britain and let the Irish where they want to be. Happily living on the Irish Isle of Ireland !!. Hello reality !!!!