Are the South East English actually Belgian?

The above image illustrates of some of my ancestral locations, as according to documented genealogy.  As can be seen.  I have quite a lot of East Anglian ancestry.  What might also be observed, is the location of East Anglia, and of South East England, in relation to Belgium, the Netherlands, and North East France.

I'm an East Anglian.  Much of my family tree is East Anglian.  Before documented genealogy picks up my family trail, who were the East Anglians, what were their origins?  The traditional answer would be that they were the descendants of the Angles.  An early 5th Century AD tribe, that relocated from Angeln, now in Schleswig Holstein, on the North Germany, South Denmark border.  Them, and maybe a few Saxons, Jutes, Suevvi, etc.  All pretty much from what is now North Germany and Denmark.  See the map below:

Archaeology sort of backs this up ... but also offers some slight alternatives.  At first, British Archaeology supported the Historians - that there was a near genocidal event during the 5th and 6th centuries, where the Anglo Saxon tribes arrived and displaced the Romano-Britons that had until then, lived in South East Britannia.  There certainly is plenty, even, overwhelming evidence, of Anglo-Saxon culture if not settlement in East Anglia at this time.  Below are the locations of a few of the many Anglo-Saxon cemeteries found in East Anglia - and their closest artifact correlations on the Continent - in Northern Germany:

It's all adding up.  However, then, a new trend appears in British Archaeology that plays down the Anglo-Saxon invasion hypothesis. From the 1980's onward, some British archaeologists started to argue that they saw patterns of land use continuity between the Romano-British and Pagan Saxon periods.  They argued there was no archaeology of genocide.  No battle sites.  No mass graves.  Instead they proposed that only limited numbers of Anglo Saxons arrived - and that their culture was largely adopted by the Romano-Britons that already lived here.  Some even suggested that no Anglo Saxons came here - it was merely a cultural import.

Then Genetics stepped in.  Most notably with POBI (Peopling of the British Isles) 2015, but also with a number of other studies, often comparing the DNA from excavated remains to modern populations.  They proposed a new middle house consensus.  No there was no genocide.  The modern English have more old British ancestry than Anglo-Saxon.  However, there was a significant Anglo Saxon immigration event.  But they mixed, intermarried.  Anglo-Saxon culture was adopted, but Anglo Saxons had not displaced the Britons.  They had married them.  The modern English it seems have around 10% to 40% Anglo Saxon ancestry, and 60% to 90% British.  Sort of watered down Celts.

The assumption that we have made, is that rural populations on the front-line immigration - such as East Anglians, were the most watered down, with highest percentages of Anglo-Saxon ancestry.  Why not.  The archaeology would support that.  The East Anglian landscape is littered with Anglo-Saxon, and Anglo-Danish place-names.  It is the most Anglo-Saxon landscape, and later, was firmly within the Dane-Law.

My Ancestry

It's all over this blog.  However, in summary, I am an East Anglian.  Born at Norwich, with all four grandparents of Norfolk birth.  I have been researching my family tree using genealogy, for thirty years, on and off.  I have accumulated the recorded names of 490 direct ancestors.  Around 80% or more of this ancestry lived here in East Anglia.  At Generation 6 (3rd great grandparent), my ancestry was 97% South East English, and 3% Swiss.  This is demonstrated in this fan chart of my recorded ancestry:

If that's not East Anglian enough - look at the right hand side of that fan chart, my mother's side.  My mother has 225 of her direct ancestors recorded, and everyone lived firmly in East Anglia.

I have documents, likenesses in family photos, and family stories to back my narrative ancestry; but I am also gradually building biological evidence through the use of DNA matches to other testers, that share a common ancestry with me, that correlates well with the shared DNA:

That the vast majority of our ancestry is very rural, and poor agricultural working class, would suggest that we have had ancestry here in East Anglia for a very, very, long time.  I have traced some lines back to early parish records in the 16th Century.  I would expect that many of our ancestors belonged to peasant families in Medieval Norfolk and Suffolk.  These, I'd expect were the descendants of Anglo Saxons, Romano-Britons, and Danes.

Here comes the paradox.

Population Genetics and the DNA

Documentary evidence confirms that I'm an East Anglian, and English.  But when I tested with the commercial DNA-for-ancestry vendors, such as 23andme or FT-DNA, my results, although seeing me as pretty firmly, a North West European, doesn't really see me as particularly British.  23andme suggested only 32% British.  They instead suggest that my ancestry is rather Continental.  High levels of "West European" or "French & German".  I at first assumed that this was ancient or early medieval ancestry, my Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Danish East Anglian roots showing through.

But is that the case?  Analysis using some of the latest calculators challenge that.  Here are the PCA locations of myself and my mother, on one such calculator.  This one (By David Wesolowski) includes many modern references grouped on language family, but also includes some references from actual ancient DNA in Northern Europe, including some extracted from Anglo Saxon remains in Cambridgeshire, close to East Anglia:

You see the red squares represent the Anglo Saxons in Cambridgeshire?  Mine and even my very rural East Anglian mother's place well to the right of them, closer to modern day Irish speakers, overlapping with modern day French speakers.  More Celtic it seems than Anglo Saxon.

Here's another PCA showing our positions (red myself, orange, my mother), this one by Lukasz, but based on the Eurogenes K36 calculator:

It puts me closer to Flemish then Walloon, followed by SE English.  Finally a third PCA, from Eurogenes K15: 

We consistently position between SE England and North France, Belgium, and the Netherlands; rather than between SE England and Northern Germany and Denmark.  It appears that we relate closer to Normans, Belgians, Walloons, Flemish, and Dutch - than we do to modern day North Germans or Danes.  Here is our K36 Oracle maps by Lukasz:

My mother has a slight more pull from Denmark and Schleswig Holstein.  Perhaps this is from early medieval Angle/Danish settler in East Anglia?  However, we both pull strongest outside of England, from the Low Countries.  Flemish, Dutch, and Walloon come up as closest Continental matches.  I'm not surprised.  I've noticed for some time, that the big vendors appear to give some testers of Normandy, Hauts-de-France, Belgium, and the Netherlands ancestry, very similar results to my own.

If our results were at all representative of East Anglians of local ancestry, then the modern East Anglian is perhaps as much, or more of a Belgian than he or she is a Dane or Angle.  So I've added a secondary circle to the map that I used above, to illustrate what are popularly beleved to be the origins of the East Anglians.  The new blue circle, represents not what history or archaeology suggests, but what my family's DNA currently suggests:

Note that I have included South East Britain in there - because clearly, there was no displacement.  The Romano-Britons were among our ancestors.

The Language Connection.

It has long been noted, that the very closest dialect or language to English, is West Frisian.  Old Frisian and Old English (or Anglo Saxon) were close.  Linguists group them together as "Anglo-Frisian".  Why is this?  If we all descend from Angles and Danes?

When did our "Belgian" ancestors arrive in Britain?

By Belgian, I'm referring to ancestors that we share not only with Belgians of local ancestry, but also the North French, and the Dutch.  Answer.  I don't know.  All that I am pointing out, is that the DNA of my East Anglian family appears to be more like that of people that today live in that part of the Continent, than in Denmark, Norway, or even North Germany.  However, here are a few ideas:

  1. The Bell Beaker.  During the Late Neolithic.  We believe that the British Bell Beaker people largely crossed over from the Lower Rhine Valley.
  2. The Belgae.  I'm not quite so sure about this one, but let's just go with it.  Roman historians recorded a late Iron Age migration from the Belgium area, into South East Britain.  They described them as using a Celtic language and culture, but being closer related to Germanic tribes to the east.
  3. An unrecorded migration from Northern France to Southern Britain during Late Prehistory.  This one was suggested by POBI 2015, that claimed to detect a relationship between the Southern British and Northern France, that they claimed was most likely Late Prehistoric.
  4. Roman Britain.  Britannia was often administered along with Gaul.
  5. Saxo Frisia.  Saxons didn't only Southern Britain, they also settled the Low Countries, where they took the name of the earlier tribe there - the Frisians.  Did many Anglo-Saxon settlers actually crossed over from Frisia?
  6. Norman.  1066 and all that.  A whole new elite arrived, often bringing artisans and supporters with them.
  7. Angevin and Medieval French.  For a time, large regions of France were ruled along with England.  French artisans, merchants, monks, priests, etc.
  8. The Elizabethan Strangers.  Protestant refugees were invited from the Low Countries, both Dutch and Walloons.  They particularly settled towns in South East England such as Norwich, and Colchester during the 16th and 17th centuries.
  9. The Huguenots.  French Protestant refugees that arrived during the 17th and 18th centuries.
  10. Background migration.  My favourite.  In addition to all of the aforementioned proposed migration events, the slow, gradual contact between South East England and the Low Countries / Northern France, that has always been there.  The drip-drip in the background.  That the North sea and Dover Strait separating the two areas is so narrow.  Merchants, refugees, masons, artisans, weavers - the Dutchmen and Frenchmen recorded as Aliens in many post medieval surveys.  The fishermen from Haut-de-France that frequently beached on the Norfolk coast.  The dutch herring fishermen that traded herring at Yarmouth market.
Summary.

All of this hinges on the DNA test results of just one Norfolk family.  I'm just making observations here, and I would so love to see more East Anglians test, and to use these calculators, to explore their ancient ancestry as well.  I have seen only one other East Anglian of a local family test, and their test results were similar to my own:

My 23andme "speculative Ancestry Composition results:
The other East Anglian local tester:
Pretty similar.

I'm NOT claiming that modern East Anglians or South East English, of local ancestry, do not have Anglo-Saxon, or perhaps Old Danish ancestry.  My mother's K36 radiates slightly around Denmark and Schleswig Holstein.  I'm NOT claiming that all East Anglians with local family trees would have the same results as my family.  However, if they did turn out to do so... then it would appear that we have so far under-rated our close relationship to the Low Countries.

We need more ancient DNA from Anglo Saxons, Angles in Schleswig Holstein, Frisians, Iron Age South-East British, South-East Romano-British, Franks, Old Danes, and others if we are ever to sort this out.  And we need more South east English of local recorded ancestry to DNA test, and to take an interest in population genetics.

Until then, I will postulate that on top of that red circle (Denmark, Northern Germany) - we South East English have more ancestry from that blue circle (Netherlands, Belgium, and North East France), than is popularly assumed.

The Other SK1414. My Cousin in Baluchistan

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence. No, this young man is not the SK1414 tester, but the mandolinist in me found this photo kind of cool.  A young man from Makran.  The other SK1414 tester was also a male Makrani Baloch.

I'm hot on the trail of my Y or paternal line, following my FTDNA Y111 STR, then Big Y tests.  These tests analysed the DNA on my Y chromosome.  It is passed down strictly from father to biological sons.  the mutations (SNP and STR) that can be identified in the Y-DNA, can be used to assess relationship, and in some cases, to date the time of most recent common ancestry.  So, with the assistance of Gareth Henson, administrator of the FT-DNA Y haplogroup L Project, and with help from my new distant cousins, what have I learned over the past few weeks?

The Smoking Gun of Y-DNA

Between 45,000 and 13,000 years ago, my paternal ancestors most likely were hunter-gatherers, that lived in the region of what is now Iran and Iraq, during the last Ice Age.  Some sharp changes in glaciation, and cold extremes towards the end of that period, may have generated a number of adaptations, and subsequently, split new sub clades of my Y haplogroup L.

13,000 years ago (based on the Big Y test), I share a common paternal great x grandfather with a number of distant cousins, that descend from Pontic Greek families from the Trabzon region in Turkey.

Between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago (based on the less accurate STR evidence at 111 marker), I share common paternal great x grandfather with another cousin, who's paternal line Habibi, can be traced back to the 1850's in the town of Birjand, Southern Khorasan, Eastern Iran, close to the modern Afghanistan border.  This closer cousin now lives in Australia.

Human male karyotpe high resolution - Y chromosome

My Big Y test produced no less than 90 previously unrecorded or known SNP (pronounced "snip") mutations.  That might be because my Y-DNA is rare, or / and, that it is mainly found in parts of the World where very few people test at this level.  The last SNP on the roll that had been seen before, has been called SK1414.  Because now two of us have tested for this SNP, it is my terminal SNP, so at the moment (although it still has to be submitted to the YFull Tree), I can declare my Y haplogroup sub clade designation to be L-SK1414.  Only one of two so far recorded in the World.

So, who is this Y cousin that shares my SK1414 mutation?

My Baluchistan Cousin

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence.  Another photo from Makran, Balochistan.

The other SK1414 turned up during an early survey, back in the early 2000s by the Human Genome Diversity Project.  It turned up in a sample of the Baluchi in Makran, South-west Pakistan.  Could this cousin be closer than the Habibi tester?  Could my Habibi cousin, from an eastern Iranian family also carry SK1414?

The Baluch, are an Iranic people, that speak Baluchi, an Iranian language that belongs, as do most European languages, to the Indo-European linguistic family.  According to the Iran Chamber Society website, they moved to Makran during the 12th Century AD.  Traditionally the Baluch claim that they originated in Syria, but a linguistic study has instead suggested that they actully originated from the south east of the Caspian region, and that they moved westwards between the 6th and 12th centuries AD in a series of waves.  No other Y sub clade L1b (L-M317) have been found in Southern Asia outside of two samples of this survey, so perhaps the tester did have ancestry from Western Asia.

Iran regions map fr

It would seem likely that I do have a number of Y cousins, most likely in the region of Eastern Iran and South-Western Pakistan.  That doesn't necessarily follow though, that our most recent common Y ancestors lived there.  As I said above, the Baluch of Makrani, Pakistan are said to have migrated from further north-west, from the Caspian Sea region.

There is a tentative suggestion of a link to the Parsi. A Portuguese STR tester with a genetic distance (based on 67 markers) of 22, has (thanks again Gareth) "a distinctive value of 10 at DYS393. In the Qamar paper this value is found in the Parsi population".  So there is just the possibility also, of the Parsi ethnicity carrying L1b from Western Asia into Southern Asia.  Perhaps this marker was picked up by a Portuguese seafarer link to Southern Asia.  It could even be the link to my English line, via the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.  A lot of speculation.  I don't think that M317 has been found yet in India.

Into England

I have found STR links with four people that carry the surname Chandler.  They live in England, Australia, and the USA.  These cousins appear to descend from a Thomas Chandler, that lived in Basingstoke during the 1740s.  That is 32 miles away from my own contemporary surname ancestor, John Brooker, who lived at the same time at the village of Long Wittenham in the Thames Valley.

Unfortunately three of the Chandlers have only 12 markers tested, and the fourth at 37 markers.  Therefore time of most recent ancestor is not accurate, but it looks as the Chandler and Brooker Y hg L testers of Southern England, most likely shared a common paternal great x grandfather sometime between 800 and 350 years ago.

That only these two lines have turned up, and that they are geographically and genetically so close, might suggest that our Y-DNA lineage arrived in Southern England around the late medieval, perhaps from between the 13th and 17th centuries AD.  It could just be through a Portuguese navigator link, or it could be through thousands of other routes.  More L-M20 testers could turn up in England in the future, that could push the arrival to an earlier date.

Today

I could have any number of cousins from south England.  The Brookers and Chandlers may well have other paternal line descendants living in the Thames Valley, Hampshire, London, or elsewhere.  I'd love to prove a Brooker from the Berkshire / Oxfordshire area, as sharing ancestry.  I believe for example, that the journalist Charlie Brooker descends from one of the Thames Valley families, although not necessarily from mine.  Do they carry the Y hg L?

My great great grandfather Henry Brooker, did not appear to have any more sons, other than my great grandfather John Henry Brooker - who in turn, only had one son, my grandfather Reginald John Brooker.

I have one Y haplogroup first cousin.  He has I believe, a son, and a grandson.

Story of L. My Big Y Test Results

The above Photograph of the Sumela Monastery, Trabzon Mountains, former Pontus, by reibai of Flickr under Creative Commons Licence.  Close to the home of my nearest recorded Big Y cousins today.

The Big Y Test

The FTDNA results came back.  As with the Y111 test results, they were three weeks earlier than scheduled.  So what has this test told me, about the story of my Y-DNA, and it's exotic L-M20 genetic marker? It was not a disappointment.

Warning

Remember, I am only telling the story of one single line of descent.  Y-DNA merely provides a convenient genetic marker of mutation, that can be compared and traced with others.  It does not define anyone.  From an anthropological perspective, haplogroups are of value in a collective sense - to a population.  I no doubt share the story of my Y with many more people alive today.  I may be a carrier of it, but it is also your story, just as the haplogroups that you carry, are also my story - through our mothers and shared descent.  Y-DNA passes strictly on only one line of descent - from father to son.  It is not inherited nor passed down by women.  Only on that one strict paternal line of descent. The Y haplogroup is only a convenient marker of one line.

The Y Haplogroup L

Y Haplogroup K formed in a paternal lineage of hunter-gatherer fathers and sons, that share a MRCA (most recent common ancestor) during the Upper Palaeolithic, circa 45,400 years ago.  Where did my Y ancestors live at that time?  We think that they lived in Western or Southern Asia.  Iran is a favourite proposal. My earlier Y ancestors had most likely exited Africa 20,000 years earlier, and were well established in Asia.  They had most likely met and confronted another archaic human species, The Neanderthal. This was however, a time of great expansion by humans.  The first anatomically modern humans had recently entered Europe, while other moderns u were arriving in Australia.  The Ice Age was in a flux, but glaciation was advancing.

Our most recent common Y ancestor to carry Y Haplogroup LT lived circa 42,600 years ago.  Then a mutation in the Y-DNA lead to the formation of Y Haplogroup L, with a most recent common ancestor 23,200 years ago, close to the time of the Last Glacial Maximum, when ice sheets were reaching their maximum positions.  K, LT, and early L, most likely all originated in Upper Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer populations living during the last Ice Age, in the area of modern day Iran and Iraq.  It was a time of increased stress on human populations, that were having to adapt to some severe environmental challenges, and may have at times faced isolation into a number of Ice Age Refuges.

Around 18,400 years ago, M317 appeared on their Y-DNA, then circa 14,000 years ago, my line (L-SK1214), diverged away from L-M349.  L1b today, occurs mainly in Western Asia, from Anatolia to Afghanistan.  L1a occurs mainly in India, Sri Lanka, and in Pakistan.  Where did all of this occur?  We don't know yet.  There is so little data.  Some other divergences popped up in Southern and Central Asia.  Some of these sub clades in India and Pakistan, are the most numerous of L today.  However, the finger keeps pointing at Western Asia, as the source of much of L divergence, particularly in L1b sub clades such as M317, and M349.  But we don't yet know what part Europe played if any.  Both M317 and M349 crops at low frequencies across Europe, particularly along the south coast, and in Italy.  L2 (L595) crops at at low frequency almost exclusively in Europe.  Altogether, L forms only around 0.3% across Europe as a whole, yet, this diversity sits at low frequencies scattered across the continent.

Iran may equally be a key.  We believe that it could have been home to L for a very long time, but we have very little data from that part of the world.  L is also missing from ancient DNA.  A hypothesis has been proposed that some early Neolithic farmers from Anatolia, may have carried L, and may have carried it into Europe for example.  All speculation, but it could explain some of these old divisions of L that we are starting to see across Europe and Western Asia.  Some of the earliest Eurasian L Y-DNA extracted so far has only very recently been reported - in populations of Iron Age Huns, that had migrated westwards into Europe.

My Big Y Results

So what did the test tell me about my line?  Was I descended from a recent immigrant from India or Pakistan?  An Iron Age Hun?  An Italian?  How about a Pontic Greek, or a Persian?  Where do I fit in?

The answers provided by the Big Y were a bit of a shock.  I had 90 novel SNPs in my Y-DNA, that have not been seen before in any other Big Y Test, not even in any of the other 23 Big Y test results within the FTDNA Y Haplogroup L project.  The last SNP to terminate, that has already been reported, was SK1414.  The administrator has not yet found it's non-FTDNA origin, but believes that it came from a test in Iran.  Therefore, my sub clade can now be declared as L-SK1214.

My nearest FTDNA Big Y matches were two from Pontic Greek ancestry.  However, here is the crunch.  The project administrator calculates that even these testers, my closest known Y cousins that have so far tested to Big Y level, last shared a common Y ancestor with me 13,000 years ago.

When I have my BAM file, and submit it to the Yfull tree, it should make a significant alteration to the branches, as my lineage of SK1414, appears to branch off from L1b, perhaps only 1000 years after L1b appeared, and before the PH8 lineage associated with my Pontic Greek cousins formed.

L-SK1414 (L1b2c)

So my new terminal SNP SK1414 separated from the Pontic Greek PH8 lineage around 13,000 years ago.  What was happening in Western Asia then?  This was towards the end of the last Cold Stage.  There were some cold fluctuations in the Ice Age climate, with some advances in glaciation, before they finally started to melt back for the present interglacial period.  Perhaps some of these climatic stresses were involved?  a severe freeze took place around 12,700 years ago. 

My most recent common ancestors to any other Big Y testers - the Pontic Greek samples, lived somewhere in Western Asia around 13,000 years ago.  They most likely were Western Asian ibex hunter-gatherers.  The earliest sign of agriculture in the region, the Pre Pottery Neolithic A doesn't take off until around 10,300 years ago.

Where have my Y ancestors been over the past 13,000 years?  That is the big question that I am probably unlikely to answer within my lifetime.  More testing, by more L testers in the future may reveal more, as would the results of more ancient DNA from excavations.  If I had to bank money on it, I'd say that my Y ancestors were most likely to provenance to the Fertile Crescent of the Neolithic Revolution.  Perhaps in the river valleys of Iraq / Iran.  They may have gone on to take part in the Pre Pottery Neolithic A Culture there.  That might account for their existence over the next few thousands of years.  However, when did my lineage enter Europe?  Did it arrive with Anatolian Early Neolithic farmers?  Or did it arrive later?  Perhaps even, much later?  I just cannot answer that.  Suggestions are most welcome.


The above photograph taken of the excavation of Jarmo, an Early Neolithic village in Iraqi Kurdistan, dated to 9,100 years before present.  From Wikimedia Commons by user Emrad284.

The STR testing, and the matching with the Chandler family might suggest that my Y line arrived in Southern England quite recently, perhaps during the Medieval.  However, I am acutely aware of how very few English have yet tested - that more L could turn up, that rewrite that arrival date.
Unofficial proposed tree by Gökhan Zuzigo

Conclusion

It seems that I have 12,700 years of unwritten or detected family history to research on my paternal line.  The Big Y test told me that I have a hunter-gatherer ancestor, somewhere in Western Asia, most likely Iraq / Iran, perhaps 13,000 years ago.  Then a rather long gap, until the Brooker surname appears on parish registers in the Thames Valley of Southern England, leading down to myself, and onto my son.

The Chandler family, judging by the comparative STR evidence, are Y cousins, with a shared Y ancestry until circa 330 - 700 years ago.

That's it.  We were missing for a long time.  I'm looking forward to trying to work out where my missing ancestors were for thousands of years.  I'm looking forward to seeing more L1b tests appear on Yfull and on the Y haplogroup L Project.  Please test.

The above photograph on Rock Art in Iran, taken by dynamosquito on Flickr linked here under a Creative Commons Licence.  The Ibex seems to feature frequently in prehistoric rock art in the region, and perhaps was a primary prey of our ancestors.