Migration in ancient times

Everything ancient is very interesting to me, and when I stumble over sources – correct or not – I gladly read them. In this document, some of the early kings of Norway and England are also mentioned. Below is some very interesting theories copied from this page:https://dcms.lds.org/delivery/DeliveryManagerServlet?dps_pid=IE230231&from=fhd (Berry redux : genetics, genealogy and ancient history, by Brian J.L. Berry)

A third hypothesis, and one that I favor, is that the SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms, frequently called SNPs, pronounced “snips”, are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide) occurred on continental Europe somewhere north of the Pyrenees and west of the Rhine and arrived in the British Isles during the migration and settlement of Belgic tribes that occurred between 2,800 and 2,100 years ago. The migratory Mesolithic way of life had already been marginalized by the arrival in Britain of the “Neolithic package” some 6-7,000 years ago, followed by the Bronze Age transition starting 4,200 years ago. The land bridge to Europe had been closed by rising levels of the North Sea 6,500 years ago, and whether these two cultural transitions involved continental invaders who introduced technological change via replacement of the indigenous elites, with a resulting “layering” of society (so-called “demic diffusion”), or whether there was simply technological diffusion from origins in the eastern Mediterranean and the fertile crescent of the Middle East that was adopted by the indigenous population (“cultural diffusion”) has been a matter of debate. 

The most recent DNA evidence favors the demic case, suggesting that it was outside colonizers who brought farming from continental Europe to Britain. These colonizers were Rblb2, the result of mutation M269, which likely occurred in Anatolia 8,000±2,000 years ago and brought farming to Europe, rapidly spreading northwestward and reaching Ireland 6,000 years ago. More than 80% of European men are Rblb2 but their maternal lineages descend from hunter-gathers, which suggests that the incoming male farmers had a reproductive advantage over hunter-gatherer males (farming was ‘sexier’ ?), a pattern repeated by later Belgic invaders. 

The “Neolithic package” included domesticated plants and animals, clearance of the more lightly wooded upland forests for farming and herding, use of polished stone tools, permanent residence in timber long houses, use of simple fired coil-clay pottery, and the earliest wooden circles and stone megaliths. The Bronze Age brought Bell-Beaker pottery, metal refining and working skills that included mixing tin with copper to create bronze tools and weapons, and the making of finely-worked gold jewelry. There was a move from long to round houses and clear evidence of land subdivision and boundaries, to inhumation of the dead, and to more elaborate ceremonial centers including astronomically-oriented stone circles. Southwestern Britain became a center for tin mining and northern Wales for copper. Extensive trade networks with Europe developed. 

It was into this Bronze Age society that iron-working techniques arrived from Europe, probably in association with the migration of land-seeking Belgic tribes from northern Gaul that reached Britain beginning 2,800-2,700 years ago. These migrations brought to England, and thence to Scotland, Wales and Ireland, a number of distinct tribes loosely tied by similar language, religion, and cultural expression. Equipped with superior Iron Age technology, the newcomers replaced the older indigenous elites with a warrior aristocracy and brought new scholars and priests, the Druids. Rather than killing off the indigenes they absorbed the men into the lower ranks of society and took the women as wives. Typically, in such a “layered society” the uppermost echelons produce the most offspring, ultimately leading to their numerical superiority, and when the hereditary leaders are particularly fecund, to the dominance of a particular line of Y-DNA, as with the Ui Neill clan in Ulster and the many men in central Asia reputedly carrying the Y-DNA of Ghengis Khan. Such clans are said to be marked by a “founder effect.” 

The lifeways the newcomers brought with them revolved around small fortified hill crofts surrounded by fields and pastures and connected by footpaths and droving routeways. The various clans and tribes operated autonomously, raided other groups, and only came together for ceremonial purposes or in the event of war, when they formed powerful guerilla armies. They also absorbed many elements of the indigenous Bronze Age culture. For example, the engravings at the Neolithic passage tomb at Newgrange, Co. Meath, Ireland provide examples of the designs of lozenges, spirals, double spirals, concentric semi-circles, zigzags, and other symbols that Iron-Age craftsmen incorporated into their own styles. 

Fifty years ago the Irish scholar Thomas F. O’Rahilly postulated that the Iron Age transition in Ireland involved four separate waves of Celtic-speaking invaders from continental Europe, the Pretanic, the Builg, the Laginian and the Goedelic, the first two of which came via Britain, the third from Brittany and the fourth from Aquitaine. Although later scholars have disagreed with some aspects of his argument it is worthwhile reviewing here because it provides important insights into our probable ancestry. According to O’Rahilly: 

(a) The first colonization occurred roughly 2,700 years ago and brought to both Britain and Ireland tribes that, according to the Greek geographer Pytheas, called themselves the Pritani, hence “Britain.” They were largely absorbed by later waves of settlers, but survived as pockets in Ireland, including such Cruthian tribes as the Dal nAraidi in Ulster and the Lofges and Fothairt in Leinster. 

(b) Around 2,500 years ago a second Celtic wave arrived, that of the Builg or Erainn. The former (also Bolgi) identifies them as Belgae who came from northern Gaul (Fig. 2.5) and the latter (also Iverni) is the origin of names of Ireland and Hibernia. In Irish mythology the name Fir Bolg refers to the same people, who in both England and Ireland subjugated and absorbed most of the previous inhabitants. According to their own traditions they arrived in Ireland from Britain. Among the more prominent Ernean tribes were the following: 

  • The Uluti (Middle Irish: Ulaid, also Uladh, Ullah, corrupted to Voluntii), after whom Ulster is named. For centuries the Uluti were the dominant tribe in the north of the country. They founded Emain Macha (Navan Fort), the traditional capital of Ulster, near Armagh. In later historical times their descendants were known as the Dal Fiatach and were confined to the eastern half of County Down.
  • The Darini and Robogdii (or Reidodioi), two tribes whose territory was in Antrim and north Down. They were probably the ancestors of the historical Dal Riata or Dal Riada, who colonized Scotland after 500 AD and from whom the kings of Scotland were descended.
  • The Iverni, the dominant Ernean tribe in Munster from whom the Erainn as a whole took their name. The Loigde of historical times were their descendants.
  • The Ebdani, a tribe of the east coast whose name appears as Eblani in Ptolemy’s description of Ireland in his Geographia. 

(c) 2,300 years ago came a third invasion. Three names are associated with this movement, the Laigin, Domnainn and Galioin. According to their traditions, they came to Ireland from Armorica (Brittany), landed in the southeast of the country and took the southeastern quarter from the Erainn. The modern name of this province, Leinster (Irish: Laighin), preserves the memory of this Laginian conquest, although in ancient times it was much smaller than the modern province. The Domnainn were a branch of the Dumnonii, a Celtic people identified by classical authors as inhabiting Dumnonia (the English counties of Cornwall and Devon, to which they gave their name), and another branch of the Dumnonii settled in Scotland, where they established the kingdom later known as Strathclyde. In Ireland the Laginian invasion made little impact in Ulster or Munster, where Ernean tribes continued to be the dominant force. But in the third century they crossed the River Shannon and subjugated the Ernean tribes of Connacht. The defeated Erainn sought refuge in many of the islands around Ireland. It was probably as a result of the Laginian conquests that the island of Ireland first came to be divided into four provinces. The Erainn continued to rale in Ulster and Munster, while the Lagin and their allies became the dominant force in Leinster and Connacht. 
(d) The fourth and final invasion was the Goidelic or Gaelic invasion of Ireland 2,100 years ago. The Goidels originated in Aquitaine. Two groups emigrated to Ireland. The Connachta landed at the mouth of the Boyne and pushed inland to Tara, the seat of the local Ernean king, which they sacked. They soon carved out for themselves a new province between Ulster and Leinster, running from the mouth of the Liffey to the mouth of the Boyne and inland as far as the Shannon. The other group were known as the Eoganachta who landed at a place called Inber Scene, usually identified with Kenmare River in the southwest of the country. They gradually rose in power, eventually becoming the dominant force in Munster. 

The first two waves involved p-Celt speakers who most probably migrated to Ireland from northern Gaul via Britain, whereas the last wave was of the older-speaking q-Celts who came from Aquitaine, a region in southwestern France close to Iberia. This is consistent with what is known about the two varieties of the Celtic language and the different regions in which they were found. Celtic scholars now agree that somewhere between 3,200 and 2,800 years ago two pairs of sub-families of the Celtic language emerged in continental Europe, Celtiberian and Goidelic, Gaulish and Brythonic, falling into two main groups, the q-Celts and the p–Celts. They are differentiated linguistically by the shift of the proto-Celtic “k” or “q” to a “p” – thus “to buy” is “cren” in Irish q-Celt but “pryn” in Welsh p-Celt. p-Celt speakers were concentrated in an arc from northern France and Belgium to northern Italy, including the Gauls. It was from this area that Brythonic tribes migrated to Britain and thence to northern Ireland, and whose language became Welsh, Cornish, Cumbric and Breton (the Bretons were refugees from later Saxon invaders of England). q-Celt speakers were originally Iberian, but included the Goidelic tribes who invaded Ireland from Aquitaine and whose language became Irish as well as both Scottish Gaelic and Manx as a result of later invasions from Ireland. 

This distinction points to southern Gaul and adjacent Iberia as the traditional home, with the p-Celtic sound change occurring among L21/S145 tribes that had moved northward in Europe and migrated to Britain from northern Gaul, whereas the older q-Celtic arrived with L21/S145 tribes from Aquitaine in southern Gaul. The additional M222 mutation of the Ui Neill, who later became the dominant clan in western Ulster, occurred among the q-Celts, presumably in Ireland: twenty-one percent of men in Northwest Ireland have the M222 SNP today, derived from a common male ancestor who lived roughly 1,700 years ago and who may have been the most fecund of Irishmen: there are as many as 2-3 million men alive in the world today who descend from him – anecdotally at least the legendary King of Tara, Niall of the Nine Hostages, whose reign marked the rise of Tara to dominance in Ulster, although he probably lived a century and a half later than the mutation. 

It was Niall’s three sons who led the overthrow of Ulster’s previous rulers, the p-Celt Uluthi of Emain Macha. The Uluthi were driven eastward into County Down and the Dal Riata were reduced to vassalage, leading some to cross the sea and colonize Argyll, from which beginning emerged the Kingdom of Scotland when, in the 9th century, the now-Dal Riada formed a union with the native kingdom of the Picts. In central Ulster, the Airgialla federation of nine small kingdoms had already been reduced to vassalage – Airgialla means “hostage givers,” hence Niall Noigiallach, i.e., “of the nine hostages” – and northwestern Ulster became the homeland of the Ui Neill and the principal concentration of M222 SNPs and hence of those with L21/S145+. 

The different timing and origin of the p-Celt and q-Celt migrations leads to a simple conclusion. Contrary to Oppenheimer, those with the L21/S145 mutation could not have been among the Mesolithic migrants who moved along the Atlantic facade as the ice retreated following the Younger Dryas. The L21/S145 mutation occurred 3,575+/-370 years ago among the Iberians who were moving northward into Gaul. One of several additional downstream mutations, M222, occurred after the migration to Ireland among those who had stayed in Aquitaine, just north of the Pyrenees. Those who moved further north, called the Belgae by the Romans, and who lived west of the Rhine and north of the Seine and Marne rivers, provided the p-Celts of the earlier Builg/Belgic/Brythonic migration to Britain and thence to Ulster. The fact that there is a gradient with the highest concentrations of L21/S145 in northwestern Ireland and a decline to the east, particularly eastward of the Pennines in England, does not mean that Mesolithic settlers brought that mutation as the ice retreated and then recolonized eastward. The lower proportions of L21/S145 to the east reflect the later Angle and Saxon migrations to and settlement of England during the turbulent period after the Romans left 1,000 years ago. 

Further back in time , the SNPs tell us that Rlblb2al, defined by SI27, was split into Germanic (S21+) and Ibero-Gaulish (SI 16+) subclades as tribes left the Iberian refugium in the wake of the receding ice. Then, around 3,575 years ago, L21/S145 separated the Gauls from the Iberians who remained in northern Spain, including the Catalans and Gascons. Southern Gauls retained the older q-Celtic. In northern Gaul there was a shift among the Belgae to p-Celtic, the language brought by the Brythons. Since our Berry family is L21/S145+ it is thus a reasonable hypothesis that our Berry ancestors were part of the p-Celt migration from northern Gaul. How and when they settled in Lancashire we do not know, but it appears that they were among the Brythons who adapted to Roman control 2,000 years ago, to Saxon dominance 500 years after that, and to the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. By the early 12 century they were the manorial lords of a fortified settlement or burh now called Bury (pronounced Berry).