How the native peoples of the British Isles share a common bond

The native peoples of the British Isles have a long and illustrious history, stretching back to the end of the last great ice age. As the ice began to retreat some 16,000 years ago, groups of hunter-gatherer-fishers began to move up from their ice age refuges in the Basque Country, the Balkans and Ukraine, and repopulate the land we know today as the British Isles. Of course at that time there were no British Isles or North Sea, it was all still connected to mainland Europe.

Around 13,000 years ago there was a climatic blip and the ice advanced again. However, it was never cold enough for the people to leave and seek a southern refuge as before. Around 11,500 years ago, the ice retreated for the last time and a rapid thaw set in. These hardy settlers were our distant ancestors, a tough, resourceful and resilient people. 

The warming process continued for at least 6,000 years as the ice gradually gave up its grip and contracted back towards the Arctic circle. People moved back and forth across the open plain, that we know today as the North Sea. As the worldwide temperature climbed so the sea levels rose, and around 4,000 years ago the last vestiges of the great plain were inundated, and the British Isles as we know them today were formed. 

Of course, the peoples on both sides of the newly formed North Sea were still closely related, only now separated by an often tempestuous and treacherous stretch of choppy, cold and green-hued water. Contact of course was never severed it just became a bit more difficult than it had been. The peoples of the coastal fringes became skilled seafarers and a steady continental trade soon developed. 

The peoples of the British Isles, those we think of as being Celts, Picts, Britons, Welsh, Saxons, Jutes, Angles, Danes, Normans - although they became separated by language, local cultural traits and the passing of time, were all descendents of those first people, our mutual north European ancestors of the distant past. Despite the great passage of time and the periodical influx of kindred invaders, related to us by blood, and ruling elites, 80% of the modern British population can trace their genetic inheritance to the first settlers of these islands all those thousands of years ago. 

For countless years academia has taught that the Scandinavian and Saxon invaders pushed the original populations to the west, but the genetic evidence for that does not exist. In fact, the genetic evidence for both the male and female lines clearly show that we are mostly what we always were, descendents of the first hunter-gatherers who set foot on this land.

An Iron Age Roundhouse

The language of the English may have changed and thus caused the lie to take root that they are a separate people, but the genetic evidence does not support this. The situation can be likened to that of Scotland in the 15th – 18th century, when lowland Scots viewed the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders as ‘Irish’, as not being Scots at all. But again, language thrust a false wedge between people who were of the same ancient progenitors. In 1995, Professor Bryan Sykes and his research team turned the conventional notion of who we are upside down.

He stunned many population experts by showing that without doubt the genetic evidence reveals we are the descendents of the original hunter-gatherers. All those ancestors buried in the long barrows of pre-history are our legitimate forebears, those of our blood who came before us stretching back over 16,000 years. Professor Sykes persuaded the Natural History Museum in London to allow him to take a sample of DNA from the bones of an ancient skeleton that was found at Cheddar Gorge in the English county of Somerset, back in 1903.

He was eventually given the okay to extract a sample of dental material for testing and he managed to get a viable DNA sample from it. He compared this ancient DNA with DNA samples from the modern population in the area and proved conclusively that they were related. In fact, a schoolteacher living in the area was proven to be a direct descendent of that ancient skeleton. 

In 2004 Professor Stephen Oppenheimer had already confirmed through DNA mapping of the UK population, that it was overwhelmingly descended from the original people of this land. Both the work of Professor Sykes and that of professor Oppenheimer, using Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA sampling confirm without doubt, the antiquity of the UK gene pool. The people of the British Isles are deeply interwoven.

This interwoven history includes the original Welsh speaking Strathclyde British Celts of Galloway and the Borders, who spoke a related tongue to Pictish. The Scots of Ireland who crossed to the west coast of Scotland and founded the country that now bears its tribal name and blended with the Picts. The Saxons, Angles and Jutes who founded England and pushed into the Lowlands of Scotland. The Normans who conquered England and introduced feudalism, a system which spread to Scotland with the Norman nobles who followed King David I of Scotland. The Normans also founded some of today’s most powerful Clans and Families. 

Additional common history included the Enclosure Movement. That began in 18th century England and dispossessed the peasantry of common land, before migrating northwards and igniting the Lowland Clearances. It then became a raging inferno in the Highlands after Culloden, when thousands of people were evicted from their ancestral lands and forced to emigrate to the big Lowland cities or to emigrate. 

The internal wars and conflicts that have plagued the British Isles down the ages have also served to create our common history. They have all too often been the product of cultural and linguistic changes that have occurred over the millennia, and changed the perception the population of these islands have of themselves.

Not many folk today appreciate the true bonds of blood that we all share, and have allowed differences in language, custom and religion to divide them. Yet all along, silently, the blood of the ancient hunter-gatherers has coursed strongly through their veins. As the native peoples of the British Isles face grave uncertainties and the trials and tribulations of the modern world, with its new dangers to their very existence, it may be wise to remember that ancient bloodline which unites us, rather than the shallow veneer of cultural influences, religion and history that have sought to divide us. 

A landscape full of long barrows, stone circles and ancient artefacts allows us to perceive the rich tapestry of history that exists in the British Isles. It allows us to reach out and touch the ancient past. We can walk where our ancestors once trod the land and feel their ancient bloodline flowing through us. The achievements of our forebears are something to be truly proud of and celebrated and above all, protected and preserved for future generations of Britons, so they too may know who they are and take a rightful and just pride in it.

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