Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

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Kaliforni
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Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Tue Jun 07, 2011 1:14 am

Greetings from California from a hobbyist with an interest in Cornish culture and origin history.

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:
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.
A few takeaway points I've found in my own readings of research:
- 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.

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Kevrenor
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kevrenor » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:29 am

Kaliforni wrote:Greetings from California from a hobbyist with an interest in Cornish culture and origin history.
Nice to have you on the forum Kaliforni, but as interesting as I personally find research of this nature (and treat it with great scepticism) I am afraid that it does not serve the Cornish any real benefit in their key struggles.

What is worse it can be twisted and abused by those who want to wipe the Cornish identity and Cornwall from the modern British mind.

Just watch and weep ...

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Tue Jun 07, 2011 10:22 am

Greetings, Kaliforni. I'm pretty fascinated by all this research although some of the researchers don't seem to be talking to each other (Oppenheimer never mentions Sykes, and vice-versa - so what's going on there?). Has Bodmer published his findings as yet? It seems strange to me that geneticists will give lectures on a subject when their researches into it are only partway through.

What exactly do they mean by Celtic, pre-Celtic and proto-Celtic? If they mean the Iron Age cultures of Mittel-Europe (Hallstatt, La Tene), then they're way out of date and clinging to the discredited Victorian version of archaeology which somehow remained prevalent until 10-15 years ago. If they mean Celtic-speaking peoples, the linguistic research is pretty sure that Celtic developed from western Indo-European along the Atlantic seaboards of what's now Spain, Portugal and France, and spread northward to Britain and Ireland by, probably, the Neolithic period as a lingua franca of the sea-trading nations. Megalith building seemed to have gone hand-in-hand with it.

In 1998, Bryan Sykes was clear that the western half of Britain had a far older genetic pattern than the eastern half. The western Britons had much more in common with Atlantic Europe - as the linguistic research also indicates; and the eastern half more closely related to Scandinavia, Germany and the Low Countries. Again, trade contact and movement with the nearest points of the Continent would make sense of this. What Sykes said then appears to be borne out by Bodmer's more recent work. I wonder how long we'll have to wait for the finished article?

carrek
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by carrek » Tue Jun 07, 2011 11:51 am

All very interesting stuff.

We all came from East Africa so really it shouldn't matter, but as any sociologist will tell you, just being "a citizen of Earth" or "a human being" isn't enough for us social, community-based creatures. We need to split ourselves up into nations and ethnicites in order to feel a sense of belonging. We might grow out of this phase in the future but it won't be any time soon. In the meantime the modern Cornish ethnicity is not based on genetics, but is an inclusive cultural identity.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:07 pm

I'm still far from convinced that we all came from East Africa. The earlest known remains might have been found there, but there's a lot of world left to excavate. Including Antarctica which due to tectonic shift, was once a lot further north than now. Asia might have a surprise for us, too.

I also wonder if we're really evolving as a species. We may have learned a lot, but learning isn't physical evolution. Place you or me beside a Mesolithic ancestor from 10,000 years ago and you'd see no physical difference at all.

Nonetheless, Carrek - although genetics won't define a Cornishman, they will give clear indications of our past and how different strains of people found different routes from different places into Britain, and at different times. To get all that clarified will be a huge step to learning who we all are.

carrek
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by carrek » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:15 pm

I also wonder if we're really evolving as a species. We may have learned a lot, but learning isn't physical evolution. Place you or me beside a Mesolithic ancestor from 10,000 years ago and you'd see no physical difference at all.
Well it would only be 10,000 years, that's not a lot of time in evolutionary terms. We've looked like we do for 150-200,000 years.

tex
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by tex » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:57 pm

Kevrenor wrote:I am afraid that it does not serve the Cornish any real benefit in their key struggles.
I agree, DNA will play a part in the overall picture of things no doubt, but it is not the be all and end all. What has been put on those census forms will have a far bigger bearing that is for sure.

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:23 pm

Marhak wrote:What exactly do they mean by Celtic, pre-Celtic and proto-Celtic? If they mean the Iron Age cultures of Mittel-Europe (Hallstatt, La Tene), then they're way out of date and clinging to the discredited Victorian version of archaeology which somehow remained prevalent until 10-15 years ago. If they mean Celtic-speaking peoples, the linguistic research is pretty sure that Celtic developed from western Indo-European along the Atlantic seaboards of what's now Spain, Portugal and France, and spread northward to Britain and Ireland by, probably, the Neolithic period as a lingua franca of the sea-trading nations. Megalith building seemed to have gone hand-in-hand with it.
I've actually still seen a mix of Halstatt/La Tene interpretations and Atlantic school interpretations of the same evidence. There seems to be most diversity of the Celtic-speaker associated R1b haplogroups near Switzerland... which could be evidence for the old Halstatt/La Tene theory, or could just mean that an older proto-Western Indo-European population springboarded from there. Descendants of Latin peoples seem to have certain "proto-Celtic" R1b types that are absent from Germanic peoples, but they also have other odd haplogroups in different concentrations. So I dunno if there's a "proto-Italo-Celtic" or something like that going on, but it needs more research. But an obvious correlation is that places thought to have once been Celtic have common haplogroup subclades.

I don't think the Megalith builders are clear yet, either. There have been some interesting ancient DNA studies, though, so far showing that Neolithic Europe was mostly haplogroups G2 and I2.

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:05 am

There certainy seems to be little or genetic link between the Hallstatt/la Tene areas and the Atlantic Celts. Hallstatt and La Tene were relatively late in prehistory, and may have become Celtic -speaking through river-trade. All that Britain really gained from that area was their art and metalwork: perhaps a few tradesmen and craftsmen with it, but it certainly seems that there was no Celtic invasion at the outset of the Iron Age. Just minor and expected in and out movements of a relatively few people. Celtic speaking people had been here for well over a millenium - maybe closer to two - and there were no invasions until the Romans turned up.

Cormorant
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Cormorant » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:32 pm

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."


http://tinyurl.com/5r6ksa

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kbcl1
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by kbcl1 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:48 pm

Prof Bodmer & team took a DNA sample from me many years ago and returned a letter some weeks later informing that I had the so called 'Ginger' (Celtic) Gene and that my DNA was identical to people resident in the west of modern day Wales.

I wasn't at all surprised.

That said, I know of many English people who have moved to this Country and who feel extremely Cornish and recognise clearly that Cornwall is not England.

We should be pleased to welcome them.

This past few days, I have been working with the Tiger Aspect TV production company assisting in a coming production for Channel 4. They are very surprised indeed at Cornwall's difference and acknowledge it. The producer said he felt as though Cornwall was much like his research experience in Scotland. He felt as though England had lost its identity and that we in Cornwall were becoming more self assured in ours. Working in London as he does, he felt Cornwall was a foreign land.

They met black people and English people who had moved here from elsewhere who felt Cornish above all else. That is a marvellous thing and to be encouraged. It occurs in the other Celtic Nations and it occurs here.

I have heard through the grape vine that the Census 2011 returns have shown wonderful results for Cornwall and the Cornish. Has anyone else heard much yet ?

Mike C

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Wed Jun 08, 2011 7:27 pm

Do keep up, Shaggy. 'Blood of the Isles', by Bryan Sykes, was published by Bantam Press in 2006. I've had the book since it was published.

And quote further from Sykes, not just the selective cut-and-paste out of context bits you have quoted.

Moderator's Comment: 20:20 - 8th June

I have just deleted a follow-on posting comment from Cormorant, which was adding nothing to the real debate of this topic plus his usual facetious, and unsubstantiated, comment with a link that just confirmed his mischievous intent. Please stop responding to such posts so that the moderators can deal with it before its evil intention to destroy the thread results in it being locked.

Kaliforni
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Kaliforni » Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:46 am

Mike wrote:Cormorant, you need to update your info. Re-read the opening message for a start. We need DNA info on Cormorant, Slimslad and Emmett for a comparison :lol: = :lol: = :lol:
Mike is right, Sykes' earliest conclusions are outdated in much the same way as Oppenheimer's. Still, the old raw data is helpful, and Sykes was always more conservative in his extrapolations than Oppenheimer.

I would agree that the English retain significant Celtic-expansion origin genes, especially in certain areas like Devon. But Bodmer's latest work (not fully peer reviewed yet but it will come out soon) is apparently going to confirm what many DNA hobbyists have suspected for a long time--that the Anglo-Saxons had a significant genetic impact, especially on patrilines, in England and some of Scotland (but not so much Cornwall, most of Wales, the Scottish Highlands, etc.).

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Marhak
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Re: Reevaluating DNA evidence of Cornish origins

Post by Marhak » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:01 am

To Mike C. re Census. I hadn't heard a thing - can your source firm it up any? Seems very early, though.

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