When tracing ancestry accurately science will often use DNA Survey to to follow the Y chromosome passed from fathe to son.

Farmers view or not, the invasion explanation just isn’t enough.

Whenever archaeologists can’t explain a period of social change or innovation, they reach for the catch-all explanation. New people. Invasion.

Historic Plaque Tracing Ancestry
Historic Plaque

But there isn’t actually any evidence to support this story. We just can’t prove it. Science, however, is trying to.

At University College London professor of genetics Mark Thomas and his team have conducted a survey of the DNA in the British Isles. The male genetic marker is known as a Y chromosome. A father passes a largely-unchanged copy of his Y-chromosome to his son. It is a very good way of tracing ancestry through history. By comparing Y chromosomes from different populations, Mark has tried to establish how closely the populations are related. He discovered an unusually high similarity between DNA from Britain and parts of Holland.

Tracing Ancestry

Mark Thomas “The English towns looked similar, but different to the Welsh towns and the more remarkable feature was the incredible similarity between the English towns, genetically, and the Frisians. In fact, we couldn’t statistically tell any difference.”

Dutch Roots Tracing Ancestry
Dutch Roots Tracing Ancestry

This suggests the native British Y-chromosome has at some point in history been mixed with that of people from northern Europe. Complex statistics were used to work out when this might have happened.

Mark Thomas “We would need the mass migration in the last 2,500 years – that was 100% replacement – or if it was less it would have to be more recently. And if we assume that was the Anglo-Saxon mass migration, then we estimate that replacement must have been between 50% and 100%.”

Professor Mark Thomas

The sheer completeness of this population change does conflict with the evidence. 3 million people shoved out?

Mark Thomas “Now, we can’t say anything about what the process was. As I said, that could be push in, or it could be slaughtering… or it could be something much more benign, like economic differences between the different populations, and over came gradual replacement. We can’t really say how it happened.”

Professor Mark Thomas
Professor Mark Thomas

But another team of geneticists in the same department as Mark have conducted a similar survey and come up with different results. They conclude that the native British Y-chromosome has not been largely replaced in southern and eastern England, and they stated it’s not possible to distinguish between the genetic influence of the Anglo-Saxons and that of the Vikings, who definitely did invade Britain in the eighth and ninth centuries.

I just don’t think that we should rely on these genetic versions of history on their own, especially when two similar studies produced such different results. I’m also suspicious of simple explanations in complex times.

Francis Pryor Tracing Ancestry
Francis Pryor Tracing Ancestry

The dramatic changes that took place in the fifth and sixth centuries laid the foundations for the modern identity of this country. I’ll show these changes were not the result of mass invasions. And in revising this origin, I will discover who we, the English, really are.

Tracing Ancestry with DNA Survey