Are the English and Irish Basque People Speaking Belgian?
As people of
Stephen Oppenheimer, a medical geneticist at the
, says the historians' account is wrong in almost every detail. In Oppenheimer's reconstruction of events, the principal ancestors of today's British and Irish populations arrived from Universityof Oxford about 16,000 years ago, speaking a language related to Basque. Spain
the similarity between the English and Northern European Y chromosomes arises because both regions were repopulated by people from the Iberian refuges after the glaciers retreated.
It even seems that the influence of the later invaders such as the Celts, the Romans, the Angles, the Saxons, the Vikings and the
This, if it turns out to be true, it may even change the way we see the English language:
English is usually assumed to have developed in
, from the language of the Angles and Saxons, about 1,500 years ago. But Forster argues that the Angles and the Saxons were both really Viking peoples who began raiding England ahead of the accepted historical schedule. They did not bring their language to Britain because English, in his view, was already spoken there, probably introduced before the arrival of the Romans by tribes such as the Belgae, whom Caesar describes as being present on both sides of the Channel. England
So the Celtic identity may be no more than a myth after all. This is all far from being confirmed of course and the jury was still out. According to the article "there is not yet a consensus view among geneticists" and the “genetic story may well change”.
It is an interesting idea though… if nothing else because this new research challenges our well-established view.
The conclusion drawn by Oppenheimer is nonetheless realistic:
Oppenheimer said genes "have no bearing on cultural history." There is no significant genetic difference between the people of
, yet they have been fighting with each other for 400 years, he said. Northern Ireland
As for his thesis that the British and Irish are genetically much alike, "It would be wonderful if it improved relations, but I somehow think it won't."