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Title: The peoples of Britain : population genetics, archaeology and linguistics
Author: Royrvik, E. C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 6120
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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The history of peoples has always evoked a great deal of both academic and popular interest, and the peoples of Britain, with its island position and semi-mythic serial invasions, have evoked as much as any. As most of the period during which Britain has been inhabited by modern humans lies in prehistory, archaeology has long been the best method for elucidating the past. In recent years, however, genetics has come to complement the reconstruction of peoples' pasts, with its ability to trace lineal human biology instead of transferable human culture. The purpose of this thesis is to assess population genetics systems of Britain against the backdrop of archaeologically determined history, informed for later periods by linguistics, and attempt to ascertain any marked congruities or incongruities between this history and modern genetic data. The genetic datasets included in this work are the People of the British Isles Project collection, and some ancillary cohorts from surrounding countries. The genetic systems assessed include mitochondrial DNA, classical marker genes, lactase, pigmentation genes and some phenotypes, and finally a suite of candidate genes for determining normal facial variation. In a self-contained section, the principle of relating population genetic data to population histories is illustrated by a study focusing on Central Asia (a larger area), but using fewer genetic markers. The chosen markers systems overall reveal modest amounts of genetic differentiation among different groups in Britain, but consistently highlight Wales and Orkney especially as relatively distanced from the rest of Britain. This is in keeping with the historically quite isolated state of the former, and the comparatively recent heavy influx of Norse Vikings in the latter. Further details are observable from subsets of this study: all are discussed in the context of archaeological and linguistic evidence. These findings provide support and foundation for a forthcoming study from the People of the British Isles Project, using a genome-wide SNP approach rather than selected markers, which will likely increase the nuance of this initial picture and contribute further to answering specific questions regarding Britain's past.
Supervisor: Bodmer, W. F.; Cunliffe, B. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Genetics (medical sciences) ; population ; genetics ; Britain ; archaeology ; history ; demography