Sunday, 15 April 2007

Ancestors

DNA testing, facial reconstruction and the mingled bloodlines of Britain. It should have been a good programme on Channel 4, but...I wonder. Evidently 3,500 people have been tested in the area of Devon and Cornwall to see if genetic links can be traced back to the ancient hunter gatherers who immigrated from southern Europe through Brittany to England, and sired the Celts.
Many of the good folk of the region wanted to be proved Celtic and when the results came back the lucky few were told that they were one and a half times (or two times) more likely to have Celtic than Anglo Saxon ancestors. They were ecstatic. No one asked the question that seemed important to me - what is the bench mark? Could one therefore be eighty times more likely, or did the counting stop at ten?
One chap who thought he was more likely to be Flemish, perhaps Norman, Welsh or even Nordic, proved to have the highest likelihood of all - 5.3 times more likely to be Celtic than Anglo Saxon. Which seems to go some way towards saying that like beauty is all in the eye of the beholder, ancestry is rather a case of focussing on what you want it to be.
There will be another two programmes and next week the canny folk of East Anglia are to be checked out.

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