So... remember that thing about how the Cornish, along with most Western Europeans, are basically Basques? It turns out that recent DNA evidence is pointing against that theory. The main proponent of it, Stephen Oppenheimer, relied on a set of assumptions to reach that incorrect conclusion. When he took his Y-DNA samples across Britain, he found that the whole of Britain was principally Y-DNA haplogroup R1b, which is only more frequent in Iberia, especially among the Basques. Seeing a pattern that suggested that Britons are much akin to Basques, and assuming that Basques are 100% Paleolithically European, he concluded that Britons are overwhelmingly Basque. QED!
But the latest evidence has completely contradicted that. It turns out that the R1b in Europe is at least as recent as the Neolithic in origin, and probably expanded as late as the Bronze Age. Whoops... turns out that modern-day British people aren't like the Basques due to them both being anciently European, but rather due to them both having relatively recently European Y-DNA lines!
Meanwhile, the different varieties of R1b have become apparent. Basque-type R1b is, unsurprisingly, among the most distant from the others. Other varieties seem to have a correlation to the ancient Celtic peoples, others to the ancient Germanic peoples, and others to none of the above or all of the above.
So what does this mean to the Cornish? One thing is that Y-DNA studies must be reinterpreted, with different R1b varieties taken into account. Doing so has so far been quite favorable to the idea that Cornish people come from a substantially Celtic background, or at least non-Anglo Saxon background. Similar recent studies have confirmed this. Remember when you guys were talking about the People of the British Isles study from Sir Walter Bodmer? Well, some interesting results are coming in. Quoting Jean Manco, who attended Bodmer's latest talk:
A few takeaway points I've found in my own readings of research:He treated us to the results in the form of a map of the UK onto the screen, with the coloured clusters plotted on it. He was thrilled to find that even within Orkney, in which he has a particular interest, distinct clusters could be found. Ulster and Western Scotland turned out very similar. Wales threw up distinct clusters in the North-West and South West. There were separate clusters in NE and NW England. But what astonished some present was the wash of yellow across most of England outside that highland zone and Devon and Cornwall. Sir Walter was quite unapologetic about seeing this as the heritage of the Anglo-Saxons.
- The most substantial part of Cornish genetics on their patrilines result from ancient Celtic (or at least proto-Celtic) migrations in the Bronze Age and/or Iron Age
- Non-patrilineal DNA is still quite ambiguous but may suggest a greater degree of pre-Celtic contributions (which is also true in Western Europe outside of Cornwall)
- The Cornish are not very Anglo-Saxon genetically, even though most of England seems to be, especially on patrilines
- The Cornish are more similar to Devonians than anyone else, but that's probably because Devonians share a lot of Dumnonian-origin DNA with the Cornish, not due to significant shared Germanic origins. The Cornish are closer to the Welsh than to most other English.