'British prehistory will never look the same again.' Professor Colin Renfrew, University of Cambridge
Stephen Oppenheimer's extraordinary scientific detective story combining genetics, linguistics, archaeology and historical record shatters the myths we have come to live by. It demonstrates that the Anglo-Saxon invasions contributed just a tiny fraction (5%) to the English gene pool.
Two thirds of the English people reveal an unbroken line of genetic descent from south-western Europeans arriving long before the first farmers. The bulk of the remaining third arrived between 7,000 and 3,000 years ago as part of long-term north-west European trade and immigration, especially from Scandinavia - and may have brought with them the earliest forms of English language.
As for the Celts - the Irish, Scots and Welsh - history has traditionally placed their origins in Iron Age Central Europe. Oppenheimer's genetic synthesis shows them to have arrived via the Atlantic coastal route from Ice Age refuges including the Basque country; with the modern languages we call Celtic arriving later.
There is indeed a deep divide between the English and the rest of the British. But as this book reveals the division is many thousands of years older than previously thought.
Be prepared to have all your cherished notions of English history and Britishness swept away. - Clive Gamble
The historians' account is wrong in almost every detail. In Dr
Oppenheimer's reconstruction of events, the principal ancestors
of today's British and Irish populations arrived from Spain
about 16,000 years ago. - New York Times
He upends some of the most deeply rooted notions of where
the British people come from, and does so in a clear, painstaking
and detailed way. The result is both fascinating and unexpected. - Geographical
Particularly illuminating ... The author carefully lays out the genetic data that show how three-quarters of Britishness dates to the repopulation after the northern ice sheets last retreated, and
takes us through a fascinating investigation of what this means for some cherished notions of Britishness. - Nature
Stephen Oppenheimer of the University of Oxford is a leading expert in the use of DNA to track migrations. His first book Eden in the East: The Drowned Continent of Southeast Asia challenged the orthodox view of the origins of Polynesians as rice farmers from Taiwan. He is also the author of The Origins of the British.