|The view from my window, 11 March 2011|
It is another Friday, another day of way too much snow. So, what's an historian to do, except stay home, make chocolate chip cookies, and blog about The Scots: A Genetic Journey the BBC Scotland program presented by Alastair Moffat and Jim Wilson.
The theme of episode 4 is the search for English genetic markers in Scotland. After a helpful discussion of how historical genetics works with Jim Wilson, Alastair Moffat ventures to Pictavia to speak with Norman Atkinson. The subject of their segment is the Aberlemno Stone which depicts the Battle of Dunnichen fought between the Picts and the Northumbrians in 685.
Then it's back to Edinburgh to discuss the impact of Bernician DNA with Jim Wilson. Apparently, the English-speaking Bernician's linguistic impact was more significant than their genetic one. During this segment, they discuss the fact that women tended to move around as slaves or marriage partners, therefore their mtDNA is widely distributed. That makes sense. The counterpoint is that men tended to stay put because their status came with land. That makes sense too. But this discussion got me to wondering. I remember reading in Brian Sykes book (Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland) that he concluded that the DNA of British women was older than that of most British men - because men were the invaders who killed many local men and took their places. I suppose both could be true That after the male invaders came, they stayed put. Does anybody out there know more?
The episode concludes with the results of Alastair Moffat's own DNA tests, which was good fun.
Read the accompanying blog here. Listen to the program, available for five more days, here.