British DNA: the History and Legends of Origin Compared


In December 2021, a DNA study of British population origins entitled “Large-scale migration into Britain during the Middle to Late Bronze Age” was published in the journal Nature. This would attempt to fill the gaps left by earlier genetic studies, which could not resolve ancient DNA origins within the well-mixed modern population of central and southern England. The new study focused rather on older DNA from archaeological sites. The earlier studies also lacked the resolution to distinguish between Iron Age immigration and later Anglo-Saxon arrivals from the same regions.


This article considers how the findings from this and other recent genetic studies may be reconciled with the traditions of origin and such contemporary historical sources of ethnography as are available. These may come via Greek and Roman authors, Welsh and Irish oral history, or the corpus of older ethnography that has grown-up prior to the new science of DNA. The picture that is now emerging from the genes is surprisingly congruent with the oldest historical sources.

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Citation: publication is pending in Prehistory Papers Volume II (2022), ISBN: 978-0-9525029-5-1

Tags: British DNA, British prehistory, Irish legends, Bronze Age, Hyperboreans, Plutarch, Tacitus, ancestry convergence, Caledonians, Picts, Western Hunter Gatherers, Welsh Triads, Hecataeus, Celts

Copyright: Paul Dunbavin & Third Millennium Publishing, March 2022, V 1.2