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Thread: Imagining English Origins

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    Imagining English Origins

    Of possible interest to some:

    Imagining English Origins
    Alex Woolf
    University of St Andrews

    When we think of English origins we are drawn, inevitably, to the legendary history presented to us by Bede in Book One of his Historia Ecclesiastica, the story of Hengist and Horsa that was repeated in Historia Brittonum, and by Geoffrey of Monmouth and by every respectable historian right up until H. E. Marshall.1 At the same moment, however, we are aware that the narrative he gives us is legendary and problematic in many ways. The alternative that presents itself is to focus on archaeology and to imagine the ‘pagan period’ as an alternative unstructured prehistoric past. Doing this, it is likely that iconic images drawn from Sutton Hoo and the other princely burials of eastern England come to mind, inevitably interpreted through the heroic lens of Beowulf and the Finnsburh fragment, which, once read, cannot be unread. This England, however, was also new in the early seventh century. Princely burials and feasting halls have so far proved elusive for the period before about 590 and they do not represent the culture brought from the Continent by early Germanic-speaking invaders in the fifth century, for they were equally unknown there at that early date.2 Childeric’s burial from the 480s seems to be the earliest of these wealthy burials amongst Continental Germanic-speaking rulers, and combined features that seem to have been of Hunnic and Roman origin .....
    Known Paper Trail: 45.3% English, 29.7% Scottish, 12.5% Irish, 6.25% German & 6.25% Italian. Or: 87.5% British Isles, 6.25% German & 6.25% Italian.
    LivingDNA: 88.1% British Isles (59.7% English, 27% Scottish & 1.3% Irish), 5.9% Europe South (Aegian 3.4%, Tuscany 1.3%, Sardinia 1.1%), 4.4% Europe NW (Scandinavia) & 1.6% Europe East, (Mordovia).
    FT Big Y: I1-Z140 branch I-F2642 >Y1966 >Y3649 >A13241 >Y3647 >A13248 (circa 930 AD) >A13242/YSEQ (circa 1075 AD) >A13243/YSEQ (circa 1660 AD).

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