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Nat Commun. 2016 Jan 19;7:10326. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10326.

Genomic signals of migration and continuity in Britain before the Anglo-Saxons.

Author information

1
Smurfit Institute of Genetics, School of Genetics and Microbiology, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland.
2
York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, 75 Main Street, Bishop Wilton, York YO42 1SR, UK.
3
Department of Archaeology, Dawson Building, Durham University, South Road, Durham DH1 3LE, UK.
4
BioArCh, Biology, S Block, Wentworth Way, York YO10 5DD, UK.
5
York Archaeological Trust for Excavation and Research Limited, 47 Aldwark, York YO1 7BX, UK.
6
Department of Archaeology, University of Reading, Whiteknights PO Box 227, Reading RG6 6AB, UK.
7
Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, University Medical Center Utrecht, Heidelberglaan 100, 3584 CX Utrecht, The Netherlands.
8
Academic Unit of Neurology, Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute, Trinity College Dublin, Pearse Street, Dublin 2, Ireland.
9
Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield Northgate House, West Street, Sheffield S1 4ET, UK.
10
City of York Council, York YO1 6GA, UK.
11
Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK.
12
Department of Earth Sciences, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK.

Abstract

The purported migrations that have formed the peoples of Britain have been the focus of generations of scholarly controversy. However, this has not benefited from direct analyses of ancient genomes. Here we report nine ancient genomes (∼ 1 ×) of individuals from northern Britain: seven from a Roman era York cemetery, bookended by earlier Iron-Age and later Anglo-Saxon burials. Six of the Roman genomes show affinity with modern British Celtic populations, particularly Welsh, but significantly diverge from populations from Yorkshire and other eastern English samples. They also show similarity with the earlier Iron-Age genome, suggesting population continuity, but differ from the later Anglo-Saxon genome. This pattern concords with profound impact of migrations in the Anglo-Saxon period. Strikingly, one Roman skeleton shows a clear signal of exogenous origin, with affinities pointing towards the Middle East, confirming the cosmopolitan character of the Empire, even at its northernmost fringes.

PMID:
26783717
PMCID:
PMC4735653
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms10326
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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