The Romans May Have Left A Genetic Legacy In The People Living In Southeast Britain

The Romans may have left more than their architecture behind in the UK. tipwam/Shutterstock

Josh Davis 12 Apr 2018, 19:21

There is a strange mystery concerning the people from the southeast of Britain: While people have lived in the region for thousands of years and were thought to have moved freely, their genes tell a different story. Now researchers are starting to explore why.

It was recently discovered that the genetic foundations for the UK were laid down during the Neolithic period around 4,500 years ago when a wave from Europe, known collectively as the Beaker people, arrived in Britain. Amazingly, genetics found that these continental interlopers replaced 90 percent of the native Britons over a relatively short few hundred years.

But this is not the end of the story. At some point during either the Iron Age or potentially the Roman period, something happened in the southeast of the country that altered the genetic composition of the people to such a degree that the population diverged from everyone else. Now a team of scientists have launched an ambitious project to analyze the DNA from 1,000 ancient human remains, an impressive goal considering that the global set of DNA sequences from ancient people to date stands at 1,400.

The researchers suspect that there is one of three things going on with the genetic anomaly from the southeast of England, in which it appears that Bronze Age people mixed with a population similar to the Britons that existed before the Beaker culture crossed the channel.   

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