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12 April 2004
Split between English and Scots may be older than thought

Traditionally the difference between the English and Scots, Welsh, Irish and Cornish was attributed to the foreign influence of invading forces such as the Anglo-Saxons, Celts and Vikings settling in different areas of Britain hundreds of years ago. But Professor Stephen Oppenheimer of Oxford University, believes the difference originates much further back in history.
     In a book tracing humankind from its origins in Africa 80,000 years ago, Prof Oppenheimer develops a theory of the original inhabitants of Britain. The professor said the Celts of Western Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall are descended from an ancient people living on the Atlantic coast while Britain was still attached to mainland Europe, while the English are more closely related to the Germanic peoples of the interior. As evidence he cites genetic data showing the Celts are more closely related to the Basque people of south west France and the Celts of Brittany and Spain, while the English are closer to the Germans descended from the Anglo Saxons.
     In the past the split was attributed to “migration, invasion and replacement”, but Prof Oppenheimer said the difference was established long before Britain was even an island. He said: "The first line between England and the Celts was put down at a much earlier period, say 10,000 years ago." The professor said Britons are descended from the original settlers, rather than later invasions, and as such were already split by the western divide.
     The revelations are all part of Prof Oppenheimer’s controversial theory, expanded in his book The Real Eve: Modern Man’s Journey Out of Africa, that humans migrated from Africa and populated the planet.

Source: The Scotsman (11 April 2004)

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