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Thread: How Celtic is Scotland?

  1. #1
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    How Celtic is Scotland?

    Yes the nation of may well have been founded by a union of two 'Celtic' tribes - Picts and Scotti in 843AD, but by the 14th century there were two lingustic ethnic groups. Gaelic speakers in the Highlands and Lalland Scots speakers in the Lowlands.

    Recent DNA testing of Scots have shown that they are not too dissimilar to the English. Even in the Gaelic speaking communities of the Hebridees there are high levels of Norse DNA. Before the Treaty of Union in 1707 the offical language of Scotland was Lalland Scots - a Germanic languge. This language was never imposed upon Scots by foreign invaders.

    Despite this many Scots take pride in being 'Celtic', which political organisations campaigning for independence are enthusiasic about promating the Gaelic language, despite the fact that the majority of Scots find that language to be a foreign as Chinese.

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    The Scots and the Welsh seem to have a natural cultural affinity, as could be seen yesterday during the Rugby international, although it does seem there are genetic differences, with Scots being closer to some English groups than they are to the Welsh, If I've understood things correctly. You can see similar differences within Wales, although maybe we are still quite long way from understanding exactly how things happened in the past, like why there is a relatively high proportion of U106 in the West of Scotland and the Isles?
    Personally I think "Identity" is defined more by individual experience, heritage and culture than DNA, others might disagree.

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    I think Scottish history shows that English was an intrusive language in Scotland, spread at first from the south by the Anglian Northumbrians, forwarded along in the 13th century by King David I, and then really put over the top following the triumph of Protestantism in Scotland, which depended on works in English brought up from the south. Just as English was imposed on the people of Ireland by the English, a similar process occurred in Scotland but with its own particular history. Due to its proximity to England, Scotland was subjected to English settlement to an even greater degree than Ireland was.

    If one accepts L21 as a proxy for the Celts, then Scotland remains Celtic to a great extent in its y-dna, since the frequency of L21 there is about 50%, which is about the same as the frequency of L21 in Wales and much higher than the frequency of L21 in England.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillMC View Post
    Yes the nation of may well have been founded by a union of two 'Celtic' tribes - Picts and Scotti in 843AD, but by the 14th century there were two lingustic ethnic groups. Gaelic speakers in the Highlands and Lalland Scots speakers in the Lowlands.

    Recent DNA testing of Scots have shown that they are not too dissimilar to the English. Even in the Gaelic speaking communities of the Hebridees there are high levels of Norse DNA. Before the Treaty of Union in 1707 the offical language of Scotland was Lalland Scots - a Germanic languge. This language was never imposed upon Scots by foreign invaders.

    Despite this many Scots take pride in being 'Celtic', which political organisations campaigning for independence are enthusiasic about promating the Gaelic language, despite the fact that the majority of Scots find that language to be a foreign as Chinese.
    At the time of Webster's census of 1755 (roughly where most Scots trace their ancestry back to) there were more people in the highlands than the lowlands.
    So a majority, if they bothered to do some genealogy, would find Gaelic speaking ancestors. I can understand some antipathy in the ex-Norse controlled areas though.
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    Even within Lowlands there are signs of placenames of Old/Middle Irish origin. Alot of them to do with estates granted to specific lords etc after Lothian was incorporated in Scottish realm.

    Leaving that aside most of the Lowlands would have been Celtic speaking 500 years prior, with renements of Brythonic persisting into the 12th/13th century (William Wallace name for example points at potential origin among Brythonic speakers of Cumbria/Strathclyde). Circa 1400 the linguistic situation looked like this:



    The expansion of "Inglis" as it was known at the time (Scottis was reserved for Gaidhlig at time) was probably due to Burgh formation by the likes of David I (and invitation in of Norman lords etc.)
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    Genetically, the one element that possibly stands out in the People of the British Isles study as being Celtic is the ancient ancestry from NW France. It is highest in the Welsh (at about 40%), then the Scots (~25%), then the Cornish, then the northern English and lowest in the other English (~12%). But overall, the British look strikingly similar to each other. I don't think it makes sense to define Celts genetically merely in terms of paternal DNA since it comprises a tiny proportion of the overall genetic profile. There are a few native Englishmen with African Y-DNA but it would clearly be meaningless to assign them to some African tribe on that basis alone.

    Linguistically/culturally, the Scots are obviously modern, English-speaking Westerners whose lifestyles bear little resemblance to those of the Ancient Celts!

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    What research shows that there is a relatively high proportion of U106 in the West of Scotland?

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    Actually, my reading of the POBI study was that the Scots and the Welsh were genetically distinct from the English.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Caratacus View Post
    Genetically, the one element that possibly stands out in the People of the British Isles study as being Celtic is the ancient ancestry from NW France. It is highest in the Welsh (at about 40%), then the Scots (~25%), then the Cornish, then the northern English and lowest in the other English (~12%). But overall, the British look strikingly similar to each other. I don't think it makes sense to define Celts genetically merely in terms of paternal DNA since it comprises a tiny proportion of the overall genetic profile. There are a few native Englishmen with African Y-DNA but it would clearly be meaningless to assign them to some African tribe on that basis alone.

    Linguistically/culturally, the Scots are obviously modern, English-speaking Westerners whose lifestyles bear little resemblance to those of the Ancient Celts!
    But how much of that is due to English imperialism?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kevinduffy View Post
    Actually, my reading of the POBI study was that the Scots and the Welsh were genetically distinct from the English.
    One thing I would say about the POBI paper is that the sampling of Scotland was quite patchy. There were large parts of the highlands where they didn't collect any samples at all.

    However, in the POBI supplementary paper there were some quite detailed maps and PCA charts and the Scottish samples (yellow circles in PCA) were somewhat shifted towards the English red cluster, certainly at least when compared to the North Welsh and Orcadian samples which showed greater autosomal separation from the English.
    Last edited by avalon; 02-15-2016 at 08:45 AM.

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