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alan
08-26-2013, 05:13 PM
We often focuss on the Anglo-Saxons diminishing L21 in the south-east of Britain. However, the Romans also impacted most in a very similar area to that of the Anglo-Saxons. These maps of Roman villas give some idea of the relative degree of Romanisation across Britain.

http://www.strangehistory.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/britannia-roman-villa-map.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Roman.Britain.towns.villas.jpg

So, the Romans (I am not implying actual Italians) and being part of a massive emperial network could have made a contribution to the present pattern in L21 and added to a diminishing of it which perhaps even started in immediate pre-Roman times with the Belgae.

I will leave the Belgae aside for now, thats another thread, but is it conceivable that many centuries in a huge international empire would not have made a significant impact on yDNA in the main areas of Romanisation? I am not talking about actual people from Rome but more a spread from adjacent areas of the empire etc.

Another thing the Roman villa map does make we serously wonder is if Britain was not already quite linguistically and culturally divided before the Anglo-Saxons arrived and if the main thrust of the Anglo-Saxons was not really more against speakers of some form of Latin in the lowlands of Britain. Maybe the Celtic-Germanic linguistic boundary of say 600AD was pretty similar to the Celtic-Latinate boundary of the late Roman period.

avalon
08-26-2013, 09:12 PM
We often focuss on the Anglo-Saxons diminishing L21 in the south-east of Britain. However, the Romans also impacted most in a very similar area to that of the Anglo-Saxons. These maps of Roman villas give some idea of the relative degree of Romanisation across Britain.

http://www.strangehistory.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/britannia-roman-villa-map.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Roman.Britain.towns.villas.jpg

So, the Romans (I am not implying actual Italians) and being part of a massive emperial network could have made a contribution to the present pattern in L21 and added to a diminishing of it which perhaps even started in immediate pre-Roman times with the Belgae.

I will leave the Belgae aside for now, thats another thread, but is it conceivable that many centuries in a huge international empire would not have made a significant impact on yDNA in the main areas of Romanisation? I am not talking about actual people from Rome but more a spread from adjacent areas of the empire etc.

Another thing the Roman villa map does make we serously wonder is if Britain was not already quite linguistically and culturally divided before the Anglo-Saxons arrived and if the main thrust of the Anglo-Saxons was not really more against speakers of some form of Latin in the lowlands of Britain. Maybe the Celtic-Germanic linguistic boundary of say 600AD was pretty similar to the Celtic-Latinate boundary of the late Roman period.

Thanks for the maps, it's remarkable how the Roman villas/towns so closely match the Anglo-Saxon settlement of lowland Britain, mainly England.

I guess it's as Jean has said, incomers/invaders to Britain take the best agricultural land for themselves and tend to ignore the less fertile uplands of Wales, Cornwall, Devon and the north of England.

I have often wondered if the genetic impact of the "Romans" on Britain has been underestimated?

alan
08-26-2013, 11:16 PM
Maybe it tends to be underestimated because non-British settlers probably on average came from relatively closeby parts of the empire and may be harder to sort out from the natives. Has there ever been any studies on the likley origins and proportion of migrants from other parts of the Roman empire into Britain other than just the military? I dont know much about Roman history as it wasnt taught because they never made it to Ireland.

I agree, its striking that the Anglo-Saxons largely seem to have taken over and imposed language change in what had been the Romanised part of Britain, certainly in terms of their first few centuries of hegemony. I very strongly suspect the lack of impact of Celtic on Anglo-Saxon is primarily down to Celtic either not being spoken or already having been relegated to a low status language in the Romanised parts of lowland England. So the demise of Celtic may not really have been down to the Anglo-Saxons. I dont find it feasible that lowland Britain would have been so different from Romanised Gaul linguistically. Its also probable to me that lowland Romanised Britons would have been hit far more badly by the systems collapse than in the less Romanised areas. It must have been like the end of the world to people totally depended on Roman networks of trade etc. It is striking that the Celtic language survival zone of say 600AD was mighty similar to the less or non-Romanised parts of Britain. It does beg the question of just how much the Anglo-Saxons actually impacted on the Celtic language zone in their first few centuries or were they really overrunning the more helpless very Romanised, perhaps latinate, zone of Britain? They must have suffered the mother of all systems collapses. The Anglo-Saxons may have found the non or lightly Romanised more Celtic area a much harder nut to crack until they had overwhelming numbers and more unification. It took them a very very long time to eat much into the little Romanised areas indicated on that villa map. The clearly Celtic speech non-Romanised areas seemed to often hold their own until the Anglo-Saxons formed really huge kingdoms and unified.

I suppose the question for a genetic forum is whether the lowland Romanised Britons were already significantly genetically different from the Britons of the relatively non-Romanised areas. There has got to have been some change caused by many centuries in a huge empire. I doubt they were as high in L21 as the non-Romanised areas around the time of the fall of the Roman empire. It just a matter of how much of a dent had been put into it.


Thanks for the maps, it's remarkable how the Roman villas/towns so closely match the Anglo-Saxon settlement of lowland Britain, mainly England.

I guess it's as Jean has said, incomers/invaders to Britain take the best agricultural land for themselves and tend to ignore the less fertile uplands of Wales, Cornwall, Devon and the north of England.

I have often wondered if the genetic impact of the "Romans" on Britain has been underestimated?

rms2
08-27-2013, 12:09 PM
I think the Saxons did get an early foothold in what is now SE England because the Romans settled them there as federates to help defend the "Saxon Shore" from their own kind. The 4th century Roman historian Eutropius remarked that in the 3rd century the opposite shore was "infested" with Franks and Saxons (Breviarium, IX 21 (http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/eutropius/trans9.html#21)).

avalon
08-28-2013, 11:53 AM
Maybe it tends to be underestimated because non-British settlers probably on average came from relatively closeby parts of the empire and may be harder to sort out from the natives. Has there ever been any studies on the likley origins and proportion of migrants from other parts of the Roman empire into Britain other than just the military? I dont know much about Roman history as it wasnt taught because they never made it to Ireland.

I agree, its striking that the Anglo-Saxons largely seem to have taken over and imposed language change in what had been the Romanised part of Britain, certainly in terms of their first few centuries of hegemony. I very strongly suspect the lack of impact of Celtic on Anglo-Saxon is primarily down to Celtic either not being spoken or already having been relegated to a low status language in the Romanised parts of lowland England. So the demise of Celtic may not really have been down to the Anglo-Saxons. I dont find it feasible that lowland Britain would have been so different from Romanised Gaul linguistically. Its also probable to me that lowland Romanised Britons would have been hit far more badly by the systems collapse than in the less Romanised areas. It must have been like the end of the world to people totally depended on Roman networks of trade etc. It is striking that the Celtic language survival zone of say 600AD was mighty similar to the less or non-Romanised parts of Britain. It does beg the question of just how much the Anglo-Saxons actually impacted on the Celtic language zone in their first few centuries or were they really overrunning the more helpless very Romanised, perhaps latinate, zone of Britain? They must have suffered the mother of all systems collapses. The Anglo-Saxons may have found the non or lightly Romanised more Celtic area a much harder nut to crack until they had overwhelming numbers and more unification. It took them a very very long time to eat much into the little Romanised areas indicated on that villa map. The clearly Celtic speech non-Romanised areas seemed to often hold their own until the Anglo-Saxons formed really huge kingdoms and unified.

I suppose the question for a genetic forum is whether the lowland Romanised Britons were already significantly genetically different from the Britons of the relatively non-Romanised areas. There has got to have been some change caused by many centuries in a huge empire. I doubt they were as high in L21 as the non-Romanised areas around the time of the fall of the Roman empire. It just a matter of how much of a dent had been put into it.

Yes, Roman history is not my strong point either, my interest was more the Medieval period. I agree with all your points but as always we need ancient DNA from pre-Roman Britain to know if there was much of a genetic east-west divide.

As for the Anglo-Saxons, much of their settlement comes down to land and agriculture. They were subsistence farmers and so concentrated their efforts on the arable lowlands of England. Obviously it took them centuries longer to reach the more remote areas such as Cornwall/Devon, Wales and the uplands of northern England -all areas where we know the Celts held out longest.

The same thing happened when the Normans arrived in Wales. They settled in the lowlands that suited their manorial feudal system of agriculture. As most of Wales is hill and mountain, unsuitable for arable farming, then the Normans left most of it untouched.