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Thread: What does it mean to be "Celtic" vs British?

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    What does it mean to be "Celtic" vs British?

    What does it actually mean to be "Celtic"? As far as I'm aware there is no distinct genetic group for "Celtic", it is largely a linguistic and cultural label and since the original Celtic tribes resided in mainland Europe would we not expect some genetic overlap between them if it truly was a genetic group?

    From what I can tell, celtic groups i.e. Irish, Scots and Welsh can be identified simply because they became isolated and began to diverge resulting in small identifiable changes unique to their populations.

    Is it the case that all populations on the British Isles are largely the same genetically? Originally seeded from the Bell-beaker people? Even the Anglo-Saxon tribes are largely much the same as "Celtic" tribes from mainland Europe too?

    One distinction I've noticed being made is that Ireland seems to have more admixture from the Iberian peninsula than other populations? Other than that what does it actually mean to be British genetically (if we are following migration patterns, not within the last century of course)?

    I'm just a Layman, but very interested to know the answers. Is there a current consensus?

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    This very thing is being hashed out over here: https://anthrogenica.com/showthread....ulator/page237

    I recommend starting with Jessie's post #2364, but this conversation looks like it goes way back within this thread I have linked.
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    Interesting discussion going on over there at lukaszM's thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by mclean View Post
    What does it actually mean to be "Celtic"? As far as I'm aware there is no distinct genetic group for "Celtic", it is largely a linguistic and cultural label and since the original Celtic tribes resided in mainland Europe would we not expect some genetic overlap between them if it truly was a genetic group?
    Ironically, we have much more consensus on what built the ground for Celtic in the Bronze Age than actually exactly how it came about. So that might make it an impossible question to answer or even make the label 'Celtic' redundant. But I'd say that we have to remember that from the Early Bronze Age onward, Central, Northern and Western Europe (apart from the odd local pockets of Old Europe farming+Hunter-Gatherer admixed populations) were very similar. The Bell Beakers made a huge genetic impact (>90% population replacement in Britain). It really is looking like a monolithic culture across the Western half of Europe at this time.

    Bell Beakers in Britain may have brought a form of Proto-Celtic to France/Isles, in which case the Celtic question is easily answered. I think it's more likely (given how little the Celtic languages have diverged up to today) that Proto-Celtic is a bit later and the original Beakers may have spoken an extinct Indo-European family, such as Nordwestblock. BB=Celtic is really tempting though and ticks almost all the boxes, apart from the divergence-over-time thing.

    In any case, even if the Isles Beakers were not originally Celtic speaking,and it was a continental Iron Age introduction of Celtic to the Isles (still need more evidence of a solid movement of people,esp. genetically, otherwise it is largely a cultural transmission) ironically, I think we are still looking at both Isles and Central Europe not having changed that much since 2500BC and being largely of the same Beaker-descended stock with minor local drift since then up to the Iron Age.

    Although there was some movement of people just before the IA(Eastern Med Bronze Age collapse which could be a big catalyst for movement, Tollense Battle c1200 BC) Northern/NW/West-Central Europe is still very close today in terms of genetic makeup and so we could assume that it was even closer before the Romans.

    Quote Originally Posted by mclean View Post
    what does it actually mean to be British genetically (if we are following migration patterns, not within the last century of course)?
    And that leads on to what makes being British genetically. So, if we take the Normans as being the last significant genetic contributor to Britain, then there are two ways of looking at it, I think. The first: a lot of different groups-Anglo-Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans e.t.c. That's the press soundbite we hear so much about.

    The second point of view is rather simpler I think; the Romans didn't make that much of an impact genetically and the other groups are all Scandinavian/Germanic who weren't that different from the Britons in the first place. Which is why modern day Britons overlap Bronze Age Britons on PCA and that Northern/NW Europe is still a very tight cluster that is hard to pick apart easily.

    Just a layman's opinion too! But certainly how Celtic spread is a really interesting debate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bas View Post
    Interesting discussion going on over there at lukaszM's thread.



    Ironically, we have much more consensus on what built the ground for Celtic in the Bronze Age than actually exactly how it came about. So that might make it an impossible question to answer or even make the label 'Celtic' redundant. But I'd say that we have to remember that from the Early Bronze Age onward, Central, Northern and Western Europe (apart from the odd local pockets of Old Europe farming+Hunter-Gatherer admixed populations) were very similar. The Bell Beakers made a huge genetic impact (>90% population replacement in Britain). It really is looking like a monolithic culture across the Western half of Europe at this time.

    Bell Beakers in Britain may have brought a form of Proto-Celtic to France/Isles, in which case the Celtic question is easily answered. I think it's more likely (given how little the Celtic languages have diverged up to today) that Proto-Celtic is a bit later and the original Beakers may have spoken an extinct Indo-European family, such as Nordwestblock. BB=Celtic is really tempting though and ticks almost all the boxes, apart from the divergence-over-time thing.

    In any case, even if the Isles Beakers were not originally Celtic speaking,and it was a continental Iron Age introduction of Celtic to the Isles (still need more evidence of a solid movement of people,esp. genetically, otherwise it is largely a cultural transmission) ironically, I think we are still looking at both Isles and Central Europe not having changed that much since 2500BC and being largely of the same Beaker-descended stock with minor local drift since then up to the Iron Age.

    Although there was some movement of people just before the IA(Eastern Med Bronze Age collapse which could be a big catalyst for movement, Tollense Battle c1200 BC) Northern/NW/West-Central Europe is still very close today in terms of genetic makeup and so we could assume that it was even closer before the Romans.



    And that leads on to what makes being British genetically. So, if we take the Normans as being the last significant genetic contributor to Britain, then there are two ways of looking at it, I think. The first: a lot of different groups-Anglo-Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans e.t.c. That's the press soundbite we hear so much about.

    The second point of view is rather simpler I think; the Romans didn't make that much of an impact genetically and the other groups are all Scandinavian/Germanic who weren't that different from the Britons in the first place. Which is why modern day Britons overlap Bronze Age Britons on PCA and that Northern/NW Europe is still a very tight cluster that is hard to pick apart easily.

    Just a layman's opinion too! But certainly how Celtic spread is a really interesting debate.
    I think this is actually the best summary for this topic I have read so far, nicely said! As I state in Lucasz's thread, I'm in the camp that favours the idea of the Bell Beakers bringing Celtic to the Isles - as you say it ticks almost all the boxes - but I wouldn't at all be surprised if it were actually a continental introduction, and Tomenable seems to agree with you on that one. One thing about the Beaker DNA results that surprised me is that (although very similar) the Continental Beakers turned out to be noticeably different from the Insular ones. I hope we'll find the answers to these questions for sure, but as you said it is so hard to pick apart these populations as they are all related and have piled up on one another forming a knot which is looking to be potentially impossible to untie...
    Last edited by sktibo; 03-08-2018 at 05:27 AM.
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    Interesting indeed, well I go along with the Bell Beaker being Proto Celtic like populace and linguistics.
    From a personal view, and a wider view of my countrymen in Wales, The biggest difference was, “we still remembered that we were not English”, this was displayed by the language remaining until recent times, and being culturally distinct until recent times.
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    Thanks for the response - very helpful!

    Could you possibly recommend some papers/other sources to get a good overview of the current picture?

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    Quote Originally Posted by mclean View Post
    Thanks for the response - very helpful!

    Could you possibly recommend some papers/other sources to get a good overview of the current picture?
    I think this one does the best job of analyzing the POBI and IDA data: http://journals.plos.org/plosgenetic...l.pgen.1007152

    "Insular Celtic population structure and genomic footprints of migration"

    Make sure you check out the supplementary materials too after you read it, some great data in there.
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    Thank for all of your insights. The fact is that some much depends upon our current thinking that the facts can easily be confused.
    CELTIC MYTH AND LEGEND
    CHARLES SQUIRE

    The records have the tendency to become a truth even after they seemed to be proven as a MYTH OR LEGEND.


    ***Truth is a term used to indicate various forms of accord with fact or reality or fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. The opposite of truth is the falsehood, which, correspondingly, can also take on logical, factual, or ethical meanings. Language and words are a means by which humans convey information to one another in semiotic associations, and the method used to recognize a truth is termed a criterion of truth. There are differing claims as to what constitutes truth, what things are truthbearers capable of being true or false, how to define and identify truth, the roles that revealed and acquired knowledge play, and whether truth is subjective or objective, relative or absolute.***

    The more time I spend searching for clues the more questions that need answers. Connecting notions and hints about truth have a tendency to become an alchemy of magic and wizards. Where do reality and truth prove our curiosity a lie? The reverse when does an untruth become just a fairy tale?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIREYWOTAN View Post
    Thank for all of your insights. The fact is that some much depends upon our current thinking that the facts can easily be confused.
    CELTIC MYTH AND LEGEND
    Layered on top of this is the fact that even a word like "myth" has been used differently over time.
    When I first came across it, it was used to mean a fiction concealing a truth.
    That truth could be a literal historic one.
    It could also be about how the people of the time saw themselves.
    It is now used to mean complete fabrication, which I think at the very least is a baby/bathwater-disposal failure of distinction.
    (The History Channel seems especially responsible for a great deal of this, particularly their programs pitched at low educational levels so they can get educational funding.)
    There are many modern myths that are a fiction concealing a truth.
    Now as then, it could often be due to misunderstanding.
    But I am also aware of many stories that wish to hide a truth by cloaking it in something else.
    To hide it from some people, or to make the converted story more memorable and survivable.

    When you look at ancient myths sometimes they are like ancient Greek drama, where the truth is in the relationships between people and in the consequences of actions.
    Sometimes they are "just so" stories of how things came to be.
    Literal, exact, scientific-type truth is very modern.
    Historical truth is a point of great discussion among historians - even for very recent events historians do not believe in unique and absolute truth.

    Ancient myth may not suit your needs or purposes, but do not discard it as being total fiction until you have searched for the truth within.

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    I recall in the 1980s and 1990s, there was a huge interest in the Celts, and subsequently in it's markets. Lots of books about the Celts, making authors and publishers a living. Lots of them were very attached to the A, B, and C version (Hallstatt, La Tene, and Belgae). Meanwhile lots of Celtic designs being mass produced, usually from the La Tene school.

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