Thursday, March 18, 2004

A kinder, gentler Anglo-Saxon invasion?

New tools of DNA analysis are causing British archaeologists to rethink the idea of the Anglo-Saxon invasions that followed the collapse of Roman rule. Anyone who has imersed themselves in the Arthurian period tends to think of Anglo-Saxon versus British conflict as something resembling "ethnic cleansing." I remember as a kid reading Walter O'Meara's The Duke of War, one fictional treatment of Arthur, the "decisive battle" of Mount Badon, Romanized mostly Christian British versus heathen Saxons, etc.

New studies of teeth in cemetaries of the period, however, are showing fewer persons than expected who were born outside Britain, as the BBC reports here. Was the change, the language shift, more cultural than violent? It's still an open--and interesting--question.


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