Monthly Archives: January 2013

Anglo-Saxon Britain: it exists but to what extent?

Anglo-Saxon weaponry

Certainly one of my go-to spots on the internet, Ghost of a Flea links to a story on Frisian DNA and how it tells a tale of the Angl0-Saxon (Germanic) invasion of Britain.

The linked article in Der Speigel says that Brits are more Germanic than they realize, and that “Frisian” DNA marks much of eastern England.

Fine, to a point.  Unfortunately, the story appears to discuss the Frisian Modal Haplotype (FMH) identified by Stephen Oppenheimer in his “Origins of the British”.  Oppenheimer only used six Single Tandem Repeats (STRs) to form this grouping, and he also put this group in Iberia during the last Ice Age, having since expanded northward into northern Europe.  All work and theories under which, if you ask me, a line has been drawn.  [PS, I own the book and have read it; discussed here.]  That said, Oppenheimer’s discussion of the archaeological evidence for a large-scale Angl0-Saxon invasion led him to think of it as more of an incursion and a conquest of a new ruling class. [It would appear to have been more than that.]

Speaking of DNA, the research of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) shows that the ‘Celtic’ markers — that is, the R1b-P312/R1b-L21 markers — are prominent throughout Britain.  The SNP that would be most associated with Frisian and Germanic peoples would be R1b-U106.


The above map shows R1b-S21 (i.e. U106) distribution in modern-day Europe.  U106 and P312 are two major sister clades of the R1b haplogroup [or, ‘brother clades’, I suppose I should say].  The L21 or ‘Celtic’ group came out of P312.

There is clearly an Anglo-Saxon impact, and it appears to be about 20-40% of the population of eastern and central England.  But this is much lower than the levels suggested in the Der Speigel article.  As it stands, there are people with verified R1b-L21 SNPs, that is, they are of Celtic descent, yet who are classified under an Oppenheimer-esque FHM group based on a mere six STRs.  So, using that kind of methodology, you would tend to include people who might have similar STRs (they came out of the same R1b father clade, of course) but whose lineages split four or five thousand years ago.

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Filed under Genetics, History

Roadside Picnic

Roadside Picnic

Just finished this very good Russian science-fiction novel by brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, first published in 1972.  I had only recently learned of the book via io9’s piece updated upon the November 2012 death of Boris at age 79 (Arkady died in 1991).

The plot follows the life of a ‘stalker’ who keeps entering a very dangerous and mysterious Zone.  The Zone is the area surrounding the spot where an alien ship had landed on Earth and long-since departed, leaving behind artifacts and dangerous conditions.  Stalkers head in to retrieve the artifacts; not that many of them come out again.  This is a wonderfully-written book, very effectively setting the mood for the effects that the Visit and the Zone conditions have put on the adjacent town.  Some good philosophical considerations/discussions in the book, as well, including a discussion of Science itself.

Add to your list.

PS – I will have to track down the 1979 Andrei Tarkovsky film “Stalker” which is based on “Roadside Picnic” (with the Strugatsky brothers writing the screenplay).  I quite enjoyed Tarkovsky’s “Solaris”.


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Filed under Books, Film, Sci-Fi Web-Cred

Churchill and Sea Power


Finished reading this book last weekend and am recommending it.  Received as a Christmas gift from my wife, it was good to get back to some Churchill ~ it’s been a while really.  Disclosure: I know the author, who teaches history at Dalhousie University here in Halifax.  😎

Professor Bell does a great job here presenting an objective look at Churchill and his involvement with sea power throughout his long career in and out of government.  From the Dardanelles, to the very tricky business of between-the-wars naval estimates, to Force Z (sunk off of Singapore in the Second World War), and many other aspects of naval history, management and operations during the first half of the 20th century.

I didn’t come away with any concerns or criticisms of the book.  Each major area is addressed, and the author does a good job summarizing each chapter.

And the author keeps a fair bit of powder dry for the epilogue which was nice.


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Filed under Books, Churchill, History