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The Australian National University

Adventus Saxonum - Material Culture, DNA and Identity in the Migration Period

Date and time: 
Tue, 24th Oct 2017 - 4:30pm
Location or Venue: 
Sir Roland Wilson Bldg, Theatrette 2 Tuesday 24 October, 4.30pm
Dr. Duncan Sayer (University of Central Lancashire)

British population history has been shaped by a series of periods of immigration, including
the early Anglo-Saxon migrations which are assumed to start around AD 410, after the
disappearance of Roman administration. By the end of the twentieth century two theoretical
narratives have emerged, a historical perspective saw migration by large numbers of immigrant
‘Anglo-Saxon’ who replaced the incumbent population. An alternative archaeological discourse
described cultural transition at the hands of a smaller journeying elite who assimilated the
autochthonous peoples. This paper will explore these ideas by looking at recent aDNA evidence
alongside artefactual evidence. Specifically DNA from two recent Nature Communication papers
will be discussed alongside the aDNA from Oakington early Anglo-Saxon cemetery, a site which
also revealed a curious enamelled cruciform brooch. Enamelling is usually associated with ‘Celtic’
art, and the identification and Microfocus XRF analysis of this object, and an investigation of the
wider corpus of enabled artefacts, point to a more nuanced, multi staged ethnogenesis which
eventually led to the formation of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.


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