Anglo-Saxons, Anthropology, Britain, Britannia, British, Celtic, Celts, England, English, Genetics, Ireland, Irish, Scotland, Scots, United kingdom
Republication from Prospect Journal
(Image credit: Mapbox)
Everything you know about British and Irish ancestry is wrong. Our ancestors were Basques, not Celts. The Celts were not wiped out by the Anglo-Saxons, in fact neither had much impact on the genetic stock of these islands
by Stephen Oppenheimer
(Stephen Oppenheimer’s books “The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story” and “Out of Eden: The Peopling of the World” are published by Constable & Robinson)
The fact that the British and the Irish both live on islands gives them a misleading sense of security about their unique historical identities. But do we really know who we are, where we come from and what defines the nature of our genetic and cultural heritage? Who are and were the Scots, the Welsh, the Irish and the English? And did the English really crush a glorious Celtic heritage? Everyone has heard of Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. And most of us are familiar with the idea that the English are descended from Anglo-Saxons, who invaded eastern England after the Romans left, while most of the people in the rest of the British Isles derive from indigenous Celtic ancestors with a sprinkling of Viking blood around the fringes.Yet there is no agreement among historians or archaeologists on the meaning of the words “Celtic” or “Anglo-Saxon.” What is more, new evidence from genetic analysis (see note below) indicates that the Anglo-Saxons and Celts, to the extent that they can be defined genetically, were both small immigrant minorities. Neither group had much more impact on the British Isles gene pool than the Vikings, the Normans or, indeed, immigrants of the past 50 years.The genetic evidence shows that three quarters of our ancestors came to this corner of Europe as hunter-gatherers, between 15,000 and 7,500 years ago, after the melting of the ice caps but before the land broke away from the mainland and divided into islands. Our subsequent separation from Europe has preserved a genetic time capsule of southwestern Europe during the ice age, which we share most closely with the former ice-age refuge in the Basque country. The first settlers were unlikely to have spoken a Celtic language but possibly a tongue related to the unique Basque language.
ancient Gods, Ancient Greece, Aran Islands, Arcadia, Celtic, Celts, god Pan, Ireland, Irish, mythology, Pan
The god Pan. A fine artwork by Jim Colorex
It’s still summertime, so I’m in the mood for something different today.
A few days ago I remembered an old, beloved song of the Waterboys (Michael Scott’s band), called ‘The Return Of Pan’. It’s a nostalgic song with references to the Irish island of Inisheer (Aran Islands) and the Greek district of Arcadia (actually Pan’s motherland and also my motherland).
Initially Pan was probably a local deity or agathodaemon of the Arcadians (a Hellenic people of Peloponnesus’ interior) before becoming a Pan-Hellenic god. Soon his cult was adopted by the Etruscans (who used to adopt unquestionably everything Greek!) and then by almost all the peoples of ancient Italy. At the same time Pan’s cult was spread to Western Asia Minor and during the Hellenistic and Roman Period, I suppose that it was spread in most of the Mediterranean regions.
I don’t know much about the ancient Celtic gods but from this song I suppose that there was a goat-like god of the Celts, similar enough to Pan, connected to Inisheer and the Aran Islands. And I do not mean Kernounos who was a deer-like god.
America, Britain, British, Canada, Canadian Military, Canadian Military History Gateway, France, French, Irish, Military history, Renaissance warfare, United kingdom
By Periklis Deligiannis
A Governmental Web site with plenty of material that has really impressed me is the Canadian Military History Gateway, and especially its Online Reference Books under the general title ‘Canadian Military Heritage’. Materials on that web site were produced and/or compiled by the Canadian Department of National Defence and various partners, namely Rene Chartrand and Serge Bernier who wrote the texts and a group of renowned military illustrators: G.A. Embleton, Eugène Lelièpvre, Michel Pétard, David Rickman, Ron Volstad and others (I apologize for not mentioning all of them, due to lack of time).
The site also includes numerous photographs of classical paintings, drawings and diagrams of forts, battlefields, weapons, maps, statues, portraits and anything else related to Canadian Military History. Enjoy it!
Below are some illustrations and photographs of the site with their captions. Τhe captions were written by Rene Chartrand and Serge Bernier (Chartrand wrote the texts refereeing to the period AD 1000-1871 and Bernier the texts of the years 1872-2000):
Grenadier of the French Guyenne regiment (left) and a corporal from the Béarn regiment (right), circa 1756
British, England, Great Britain, Ireland, Irish, Picts, Scotch-Irish, Scotland, UK, United kingdom, Wales
By Periklis Deligiannis
Most of this article is actually a part of my published book The Celts, Athens 2008, unfortunately available only in Greek.
At about the same time when the Anglo-Saxons and other Germanics were landing in Britain and beginning the conquest of the territories which later became England (5th cent. AD.), one of the strongest Irish tribes, namely the Scots, were migrating to the opposite coast of Caledonia (northern Britain), founding the kingdom of Dal-Riada (or Dal-Riata). It has been hypothesized that in reality this colonization involved Scottish mercenaries (a Scot dynasty) who were to be used by the Britons as a buffer against the Pict raiders, like the earlier migration of the Votadini. The Picts (the “painted ones” in Latin because they retained the ancient Celtic custom of using body tattoo before the battle) were a pre-Celtic people of Caledonia, who at that time was almost Celticized and had incorporated most of the other tribes of the region. Τhey were calling themselves the Cruthni. The Britons generally used the Roman doctrine of dealing with barbarian peoples by turning one against another.
In Ireland, which has never been threatened by the Romans, the local Celtic tribes and dynasties fought each other for power. Some warlords managed to greatly expand their influence and it became a custom to be enthroned on the sacred hill of Tara.
Until the early 20th century, most researchers believed that the Anglo-Saxons were the principal ancestors of the modern English nation and the English are basically a Germanic people, on the hypothesis that their ancestors exterminated the native Celts or expelled them to the periphery of the island. Since then, the sciences of archaeology, genetics, anthropology and others demonstrated that this is not true. The English originate mainly from the indigenous population of the British Isles (as the neighbouring modern Celtic peoples) who first adopted the Celtic language due to cultural interaction with the Continent, and then adopted the Anglo-Saxon language because of the Germanic conquest. The same applies to the origins of the modern French people, the Spanish, the Walloons and others, who originate mainly from the pre-Celtic population of each country, who was Celticized mainly through cultural interaction and later Latinized because of the Roman conquest. The majority of the population of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms from the 7th century onwards, consisted of Germanized Britons who spoke the language of the conquerors and now called themselves ‘Saxons’. Their leading class consisted mainly of genuine Anglo-Saxons and some Germanized ex-Celtic aristocrats. The original Saxons were the majority only in some small coastal enclaves where they originally landed.
American Civil War, Britain, Confederacy, Confederate, Confederate States of America, England, Ireland, Irish, Irish Brigade, New York, Robert Lee, Union, United States, USA
By Periklis Deligiannis
The Irish Brigade at Gettysburg. A classic artwork by Don Troiani.
The Irish Infantry Brigade of the Federal Army (USA) in the Civil War consisted mainly of Irish immigrants and Americans of Irish descent, Catholics almost entirely. After the Civil War, the 69th Infantry Regiment of New York is considered to be the descendant unit of the Brigade (because its power was decreased because of the losses and the demobilization after the end of the war). Moreover, the 69th Regiment which goes on serving the U.S. Army was the original core of the Brigade. The Irish Brigade became famous for the high aggressiveness of its men and their characteristic Celtic battle cry ‘Fag an bealach!’ (‘Open the way!’, in Gaelic Celtic), typical of its risky missions.
The Celts have always been renowned (already from Antiquity) for their bravery on the battlefield, being elite combatants (warriors and then soldiers) and renown mercenaries. On the other hand, the Celtic soldiers (expect possibly the Highlander Scots) were often considered to be expendable by the Anglo-Saxon political-military leaderships of the U.S. and Britain until the end of World War I. However, the heavy losses suffered generally by the Fed Irish soldiers during the Civil War were not always necessarily due to this mutual antipathy between Anglo-Saxons (‘natives’ as they called themselves) and Celts (usually newcomer immigrants), which in this period often ended in street clashes with several people dead in major American cities of the North like New York, Boston, Philadelphia etc. Their losses in the war were due to a significant extent, to the aforementioned martial reputation of the Celts: they used to undertake a major part of the fighting, thereby they had such heavy losses.