Whence came the English? : exploring relationships between the Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods in Britain and Denmark : a craniometric biodistance analysis
Many pre- and early-historic cultural transitions in Britain have been attributed to mass-migrations originating outside Britain. One of the most striking changes was the 5th century AD Romano-British / Anglo-Saxon transition, which has often been explained using models which focus on a mass migration and invasion of Angles, Saxons and Jutes from what is now Denmark and northern Germany. This explanation, based on cultural similarities between the two regions, has recently been strongly criticised on theoretical grounds. Most researchers of the late 20th and 21 st centuries now view this transition in terms of elite settlement, and wide-scale acculturation. Within the last decade, however, research from the new field of archaeogenetics has reinvigorated this debate, with evidence showing that population movement between Britain and the continent may have been substantial. Despite this recent resurgence of interest, biological anthropological research in Britain has not followed suit, despite the development and relatively wide-scale application of quantitative genetic methods to anthropometric data elsewhere. In this thesis, craniometric data, which were collected from skeletal collections, published and unpublished reports, represent over 1400 individuals from the Iron Age, Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods in Britain and Denmark. These data have been analysed using univariate, population genetic and matrix correlation methods, in order to investigate population structure and relationships in terms of continuity or change in Britain between these periods. The results of these analyses indicate a degree of temporal continuity and no evidence for geographical isolation, both within Britain, and between Britain and Denmark. Cultural affinities, however, are found to be significantly associated with biodistance, in some cases. Results indicate strong links between Britain and Denmark, in both the Iron Age and the early and later Anglo-Saxon periods, suggesting that substantial migration between Britain and the continent may have occurred. However, Romano-British samples appear distinct from Iron Age, Anglo-Saxon and Danish samples. The questions remaining relate to the timing and nature of this migration, the situation in areas of Britain not sampled here, and the cause of the Romano-British distinctiveness in contrast to earlier and later samples.