Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:35 am

Here's another quote from Dr Bryan Sykes of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, from the S4C/Rhyngwladol International series: The Celts (which I don't believe has ever been shown on the English TV channels):

"The most striking pattern we've seen in the genetics has been the contrast between the west side of Britain - and I mean Cornwall, Wales, the west coast of Scotland and the Hebrides. They're really very different from the picture we're getting from the eastern side of Britain. Why is that? This is the most remarkable signal we're getting so far. I think it's probably because we're looking at a very ancient pattern, a pattern that's been established on the east side of Britain with influence from the nearby Continent, by which I mean Germany, France, the Low Countries, Denmark. On the western side, a much more Atlantic influnce - people coming up from initially Spain and Portugal, up the Atlantic coasts of France, Brittany to Cornwall and up that side, and they met in Britain. This is a very, very old pattern that might have been estabished with the megalith builders coming up the Atlantic coast."

On the same programme, leading archaeologist Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe supports this from the archaelogist's viewpoint:

"If you get rid of the idea of there being a major (Iron Age) Celtic migration into Britain, then that raises very serious problems about the language spoken in Britain, and still spoken in some parts of it, which beongs to what we call the Celtic family of languages - the same languages that were spoken in Gaul and further over in Europe. So, how do we explain that? Well, the old idea used to be waves of population coming over bringing different sorts of Celtic, but nowadays we see the Celtic language as being a very old language, possibly going back to the Neolithic period or even earlier. From that period onwards, Western Europe was intimately in contact, particularly along the Atlantic seaways from Spain, France and Britain. There were ships going backwards and forwards, carrying metals, and carrying people. In that context of trade and exchange, one can understand how a lingua franca grows up, a language which enables all these disparate peoples to communicate. That's the context I feel we should see Celtic in."

Fellow archaeologist Professor Colin Renfrew adds to this:

"I believe that those first farmers were already speaking a proto-Indo-European language out of which Celtic developed. So we're talking a very complete continuity from the period of Stonehenge right on through the Bronze Age and Iron Age until the development of those societies, chiefdom societies, those heroic societies which finally emerge into the light of history when Caesar and other people describe them."

Trevorpen
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Trevorpen » Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:52 am

It's very hard to define Cornish Origins.
Obviously from the post war years (1945 on), the movement of people within The UK has been monumental compared with the pre-war years. For example the average village or small town in England, be it St. Just or Cerne Abbas had little movement of people.
Nowadays with transport links, higher educational standards etc, the comings and going of peoples is vastly different.
England was a country of predominately Celtic peoples centuries ago, today, the English Celts are mainly found in The South West of England from Cornwall to Wiltshire.

carrek
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by carrek » Thu Jun 09, 2011 11:50 am

Trevorpen wrote:England was a country of predominately Celtic peoples centuries ago
England has never been a country of predominately Celtic peoples. When England was created it was predominately Anglo Saxon.

Before the Anglo Saxons arrived, Britain was an island of predominately Celtic peoples.

Learn history.

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kbcl1
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by kbcl1 » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:06 pm

Trevorpen wrote:It's very hard to define Cornish Origins.
Obviously from the post war years (1945 on), the movement of people within The UK has been monumental compared with the pre-war years. For example the average village or small town in England, be it St. Just or Cerne Abbas had little movement of people.
Nowadays with transport links, higher educational standards etc, the comings and going of peoples is vastly different.
England was a country of predominately Celtic peoples centuries ago, today, the English Celts are mainly found in The South West of England from Cornwall to Wiltshire.
To correct you, Celts may be found in Cornwall and the South West of England from Devon to Wiltshire. English people may be found in many countries including Spain, India, Malta, the USA and countless others including Cornwall but that does not make those countries England or English.

Mike

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P_Trembath
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by P_Trembath » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:36 pm

Trevorpen wrote: It's very hard to define Cornish Origins.
The Cornish People originated in that geographical area known as Cornwall, long before it was known as such. They are the descendants of the "hunter gatherers" who moved into the area across the land bridge from the continent following the last Ice Age. Since that time, other people have moved here and joined those they found already living here, becoming part of the people, and the culture.

That wasn't hard.
Trevorpen wrote:Obviously from the post war years (1945 on), the movement of people within The UK has been monumental compared with the pre-war years. For example the average village or small town in England, be it St. Just or Cerne Abbas had little movement of people.
Nowadays with transport links, higher educational standards etc, the comings and going of peoples is vastly different.
England was a country of predominately Celtic peoples centuries ago, today, the English Celts are mainly found in The South West of England from Cornwall to Wiltshire.
The movement of people since 1945 is completely relevant to the origins of the Cornish People, unless you believe that the Cornish People only appeared on the scene a few years before. The movement of people since 1945 does have an effect on the makeup of the people of Cornwall, notice the difference, and is, in part, the reason that the Cornish People feel the need to fight for recognition today, in order to prevent themselves from disappearing all together.

That said, many of those moving to Cornwall did/do so in the knowledge that they are moving to an area that is uniquely different to the ones that they left, they are quite happy to become involved in the community and culture that they find here. In time, such people will become "Cornish People", as opposed to "People of Cornwall". Those people are welcome, as such people have been welcome for thousands of years. Their DNA will merge with the Cornish DNA, become part of it.
Those who come here holding the opinions that you clearly hold will not, they will remain "English", and when this part of the world looses its attraction for such people, they will move elsewhere, and inflict their damaging opinions on another group of people.

The problem with DNA, and research into it, is that such research is still in its infancy, it can only give small, imprecise, glimpses into human origins, but even in the future when it may be possible to use DNA to provide a complete "genetic tree" for both individuals and communities, going back to the fabled "Adam and Eve", it will still be unable to explain, or define a group of people, an ethnicity, as it is totally unable to take human interaction into account. It will never be able to tell us why this group of people stuck together, and that group chose to migrate and mix with different groups elsewhere, why they chose to stay, or were made to stay, with a particular group, or why they chose to leave it. In short, it will never be able to tell ethnicity or culture, only ancestry.

DNA makes good and interesting biology, but very bad politics, especially when our knowledge of it is still so very, infinitesimally, small, and in all probability still fundamentally flawed.
Everyone, Cornish or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young to do something.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:56 pm

Trevorpen, dear chap, please get used to the fact that England has only existed since 890 AD. Cornwall and the Cornish people were documented c.400 AD, half a millenium prior to that date (as 'Cornou'; 'Cornouio', Ravenna Cosmography). Te centuries since those times have not made the English any less (or more) English; and hasn't made the Cornish any less Cornish, either.

CJenkin
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by CJenkin » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:39 pm

P_Trembath wrote:
Trevorpen wrote: It's very hard to define Cornish Origins.
The Cornish People originated in that geographical area known as Cornwall, long before it was known as such. They are the descendants of the "hunter gatherers" who moved into the area across the land bridge from the continent following the last Ice Age. Since that time, other people have moved here and joined those they found already living here, becoming part of the people, and the culture.

That wasn't hard.
Trevorpen wrote:Obviously from the post war years (1945 on), the movement of people within The UK has been monumental compared with the pre-war years. For example the average village or small town in England, be it St. Just or Cerne Abbas had little movement of people.
Nowadays with transport links, higher educational standards etc, the comings and going of peoples is vastly different.
England was a country of predominately Celtic peoples centuries ago, today, the English Celts are mainly found in The South West of England from Cornwall to Wiltshire.
The movement of people since 1945 is completely relevant to the origins of the Cornish People, unless you believe that the Cornish People only appeared on the scene a few years before. The movement of people since 1945 does have an effect on the makeup of the people of Cornwall, notice the difference, and is, in part, the reason that the Cornish People feel the need to fight for recognition today, in order to prevent themselves from disappearing all together.

That said, many of those moving to Cornwall did/do so in the knowledge that they are moving to an area that is uniquely different to the ones that they left, they are quite happy to become involved in the community and culture that they find here. In time, such people will become "Cornish People", as opposed to "People of Cornwall". Those people are welcome, as such people have been welcome for thousands of years. Their DNA will merge with the Cornish DNA, become part of it.
Those who come here holding the opinions that you clearly hold will not, they will remain "English", and when this part of the world looses its attraction for such people, they will move elsewhere, and inflict their damaging opinions on another group of people.

The problem with DNA, and research into it, is that such research is still in its infancy, it can only give small, imprecise, glimpses into human origins, but even in the future when it may be possible to use DNA to provide a complete "genetic tree" for both individuals and communities, going back to the fabled "Adam and Eve", it will still be unable to explain, or define a group of people, an ethnicity, as it is totally unable to take human interaction into account. It will never be able to tell us why this group of people stuck together, and that group chose to migrate and mix with different groups elsewhere, why they chose to stay, or were made to stay, with a particular group, or why they chose to leave it. In short, it will never be able to tell ethnicity or culture, only ancestry.

DNA makes good and interesting biology, but very bad politics, especially when our knowledge of it is still so very, infinitesimally, small, and in all probability still fundamentally flawed.
Best post all year on identity.

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:42 pm

I hope you don't mind me bumping my own thread, but I thought you all might be interested in some actual numbers related to Cornwall.

Let's start with the latest from the People of the British Isles Project. I'll just link to Dienekes' Blog on this one, click here. Very little surprising: the East of England is found to be significantly more Anglo-Saxon than Cornwall.

Now, onto Eurogenes. It's an autosomal study, meaning that it takes a person's entire genome into account, and sees how well they cluster with other people in general regions. Here are some interesting averages for groups from certain places (using dataset EU7b):

Southeast Baltic/Northern European/North Atlantic/East or North Eurasian/Sub-Saharan African/Southern European/Western European
Irish: 2/27/52/0/0/1/18
SW Scots: 4/30/48/0/0/0/17
Cornish: 2/29/48/0/0/4/17
Kentish: 4/40/35/0/0/5/16
Dutch: 5/45/29/0/0/10/10

The general thought is that people who are more "Germanic" get higher "Northern European" scores, and people who are more "Celtic" get higher "North Atlantic" scores. We see a gradient of "Celticity" assuming that that's correct that goes Irish > Cornish = SW Scots >> Kentish > Dutch.

Going back to Y-DNA, we can get more precise estimates using STR dating regarding when certain Y-DNA haplogroups entered Britain. This is the general understanding of migrations into Britain as they relate to haplogroups (keep in mind that our understanding of these can change as more data comes in, and some scholars would be critical of each of these):
Neolithic/Mesolithic pre-Celtic migrations: Mostly I2a1, G2a
Bronze Age (likely early Celtic) migrations: Mostly R1b-L21, R1b-S116*
Iron Age Celtic (including Halstatt/La Tene-linked) migrations: Mostly R1b-U152, R1b-S116*, R1b-L21
Classical Roman migrations: Mostly R1b-U152, E1b, J
Medieval Germanic migrations: Mostly I1, R1a, R1b-U106, I2a2
Medieval Norman migrations: Mostly R1b-U106, R1b-U152, I1

The drawback to using Y-DNA, despite being more precise, is that it doesn't represent a population's entire genetic admixture, only their patrilines. In fact, it's fairly clear that British matrilines have more Mesolithic and less Germanic influence. With that in mind, here are my own rough estimates, based on the few studies of Cornish Y-DNA (a good starting resource is here in addition to scholarly sources) and the assumptions above, of the influence of each migration period on Cornwall:

Neolithic/Mesolithic: 3%
Bronze Age: 72%
Iron Age: 9%
Classical Roman: 2%
Medieval Germanic: 12%
Medieval Norman: 2%

Compare to what we get for Wales using exactly the same method:

Neolithic/Mesolithic: 3%
Bronze Age: 79%
Iron Age: 2%
Classical Roman: 5%
Medieval Germanic: 10%
Medieval Norman: 1%

And to England:

Neolithic/Mesolithic: 3%
Bronze Age: 27%
Iron Age: 10%
Classical Roman: 6%
Medieval Germanic: 50%
Medieval Norman: 4%

The worst estimates above are probably for Normans, because they had haplogroups that are also represented in other, more important migrations, so I may be way off on them.

So, we get roughly 7:1 Romano-Briton vs. Anglo-Saxon contribution in Cornwall, roughly 9:1 in Wales, and roughly 9:10 in England. Not wholly unexpected, really. Hopefully some more scholarly sources will release similar studies.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:56 pm

That's quite remarkable. Where can I find out more?

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:04 pm

Marhak wrote:That's quite remarkable. Where can I find out more?
For the first part of my post see The People of the British Isles. For part 2 see Eurogenes. The last part is my own work based on my own understanding of the data and you can just ask me if you have any questions or challenges to it.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:06 pm

As an archaeologist, I find this fascinating stuff. Can dates be tied down even further? I will most certainly look at the links you recommend. Many thanks.

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:15 pm

Marhak wrote:As an archaeologist, I find this fascinating stuff. Can dates be tied down even further? I will most certainly look at the links you recommend. Many thanks.
Actually there are worries that dates can't even be tied down that much. (Don't believe the media reports that say that this means that we're all descended nearly 100% from European hunter-gatherers, though, they misunderstand the actual impact of that study, it just says that we need to be careful with STR dating.) But the STR date estimates have been studied extensively and we even have some ancient DNA to confirm patterns, like that R1b doesn't seem to have been in Europe in the Neolithic.

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:09 pm

Also, here are some quotes relating to Cornwall taken from abstracts for ICHG/ASHG 2011. These are so fresh from academia, the scientists in the field aren't even going to be reading them until October!:

From S. Myers et al:
At the finest scale, we are able to study admixture patterns in data gathered by a project (POBI) examining people within the British Isles. Our approaches reveal genetic differences between individuals from different UK counties, and show that the current UK genetic landscape was formed by a series of events in the millennium following the fall of the Roman Empire.
And from Sir Walter Bodmer:
Using a novel clustering algorithm that takes into account linkage disequilibrium structure, approximately 3000 of the samples were clustered, using these comprehensive genotyping data, into more than 50 groups purely as a function of their genetic similarities without any reference to their know locations. When the appropriate geographical position of each individual within a cluster is plotted on a map of the UK, there is a striking association between clusters and geography, which reflects to a major extent the known history of the British peoples. Thus, for example, even individuals from Cornwall and Devon, the two adjacent counties in the southwestern tip of Britain, fall into different, but coherent clusters.
This is the first time I've seen anyone say that the Cornish are not simply further along a genetic gradient compared to Devonians. To see how much the Cornish form a distinct cluster from any English, including Devonians, could be very interesting. The full data set that leads to that conclusion should be available in October.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:15 am

Many thanks again. I've been waiting for Bodmer's conclusions. They're bound to be the most detailed yet, as he's been at it for several years. All this evidence, once finalised, can be of huge help to archaeology and assist accuracy. One thing that already emerges is that the old idea (that persisted for far too long) of an Iron Age Celtic invasion can finally be laid to rest. Another is that the evidence broadly supports the views of Cunliffe, Renfrew, Koch and Waddell.

With regard to dates, I'd have expected a larger migration result from the early-mid Neolithic (say, c. 3500-3000 BC) with the northward spread of megalithic monuments. That this isn't immediately evident is a bit bemusing, but perhaps this can be clarified when more evidence comes to light. That Myers suggests that the present UK genetic landscape was formed by post-Roman events is highly significant.

Please do keep this all coming as further evidence emerges.

(PS - I have a hard job to believe the date in modern newspapers!)

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:49 pm

Marhak wrote:One thing that already emerges is that the old idea (that persisted for far too long) of an Iron Age Celtic invasion can finally be laid to rest. Another is that the evidence broadly supports the views of Cunliffe, Renfrew, Koch and Waddell.
(disclaimer: the below is just me spouting off and is not proven scientific fact)
Oh, I think that the Halstatt/La Tene expansion happened, and that it was probably important in the spread of P-Celtic. But the actual genetic impact in Britain appears to have been hampered by existing Celtic people who carried R1b-L21. What our interpretation hinges on is what exactly the genetic makeup of the Halstatt/La Tene Celts was... that is far from a settled question at this point, and we could still be totally wrong. But it's been hard to avoid the conclusion that they were probably R1b-U152 dominant. Just check out the modern distribution (R-S28 is another name for it). It's interesting that it seems to peter off in Wales and in the Scottish Highlands, indicating that the Iron Age Celts who came to Britain had just as much difficulty penetrating into the existing population as the Anlgo-Saxons did later. The Anglo-Saxons, by the way, were likely R1b-U106 dominant... see a map of that here.
Marhak wrote:With regard to dates, I'd have expected a larger migration result from the early-mid Neolithic (say, c. 3500-3000 BC) with the northward spread of megalithic monuments. That this isn't immediately evident is a bit bemusing, but perhaps this can be clarified when more evidence comes to light.
Yes, I think you'll could get that once we understand more than just Y-DNA. Y-DNA is obviously a biased marker. The rest of our chromosomes are too tough to date at the moment, and nobody seems to be sure about mtDNA, either. Eurogenes and Bodmer's work expand beyond Y-DNA, but dating remains tricky.

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