T2A1A in the Early Middle Ages in England

Another follow-up on the Article on Anglo-Saxon migration and the formation of the early English gene pool. See my previous posts for more information on R-DF95 Y DNA and Continental Northern European migration to Britain part 1 and part 2.

There are many T2a1a results in the supplemental data for the study. Some from Viking age samples, others from Amesbury Downs. I think I may have already gathered many of them in previous posts here about T2a1a in Ancient DNA, I struggled to line up the results with my previous postings. There were results from this particular study though, that seemed new to me.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the real story here is told by autosomal DNA; our particular Y or MTDNA is just along for the ride for the most part.

Our relative from Buckland Cemetery in Dover

BUK074 is T2a1a6 listed as ENG_EMA_CNE (basically mostly a continental European) She is listed as 79% Continental Northern European (CNE) with 21% Continental Western European (CWE). She’s Also listed as 76% CNE 24% Welsh, British, Irish (WBI). She’s in grave 427a (you can see her on the map above in a grave marked red) and was buried between 400 and 800 CE with beads, Roman coins, a pin, rings, buckles, knife. She was 30 to 35 years old. She’s admixed with local WBI DNA so I would guess at least one generation after the migration from the continent. In the study, women with CNE ancestry were more likely to have grave goods, while men of any ancestry were just as likely to have grave goods.

Our Relatives in Worth Matravers, Dorset

From the paper, it appears that Worth Matravers was used as a comparison site to get a handle on Early Middle Ages British people who were not part of the Anglo-Saxon migration and the arrival of Continental Northern Europeans.

“…the post-Roman cemetery of Worth Matravers at the southern coast of Dorset, whose individuals have nearly no CNE ancestry (less than 6% on average), and thus may serve as a more temporally close proxy for post-Roman Britain before the arrival of CNEs.”

worth-matravers dorset map
Worth Matravers Dorset

So these relatives would have been established Britons from the time period. They’re not in an anglo-saxon cemetery and so there is less information about them in the supplemental data.

I11569 is listed as 21% CWE and 72% WBI. She’s also listed as 99% WBI. She is T2a1a. She’s buried between 500-700 CE in grave 1649. She’s part of family A (2 members) (I11569 and I11580 are 1st degree relatives). A first-degree relative is a parent, sister, or child (given the shared T2a1a with Male I11580 it’s unlikely she is a child).

I11580 100% WBI. He’s T2a1a (like his relative I11569). His YDNA haplogroup is R-CTS241. He is buried between 500-700 CE in grave 1715. He’s a first-degree relative of I11569, given the shared T2a1a it’s likely he’s a brother or child.

I11582 is100% WBI. His Y DNA is R-P297. He’s buried in grave 1778 between 500-700 CE.

As a point of interest, the Continental Western European (CWE) DNA is more prevalent in Southern England and is most closely associated with French Iron Age DNA found in Belgium and France…attributed to the Franks or later migration from a similar gene pool.

“When used as a source in our model, we found that the estimates of France IA-related ancestry in present-day England changed by less than 3% on average across the regions (Fig. 5b), suggesting that France IA-related ancestry entered England to a substantial amount after the Roman period.

We note that a model involving southern or western European-like ancestry in England has been previously proposed on the basis of present-day samples, but we can now go further and delineate this third component more clearly against the CNE-like immigrant gene pool making up the majority of the early medieval individuals from England that we studied.

Our three-way population model for present-day England supports a view of post-Roman English genetic history as punctuated by gene flow processes from at least two major sources: first, the attested arrival of CNE ancestry during the Early Middle Ages from northern Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, and second, the arrival of ancestry related to France IA.”

It seems reasonable that there would be some Frankish gene flow, along with trade in Southeastern England. I don’t know if the study is hinting at another later migration of French and Belgian DNA that would add to the modern English gene pool or if they believe there is an ongoing influx of Frankish relatives in the early middle ages subsequent to the Anglo-Saxon migration or if this French Iron Age component is brought over with the Anglo Saxon migration to Kent as part of an earlier admixture. The geographic closeness of the Franks to Kent makes it seem like it’s probably a long-term admixture with trading partners. You can see the Saxons in Kent in England on the map below just across from the Franci (Franks).

central europe 5th century CE showing Franci (the Franks) Saxoni (in southern England and Angli in Eastern England

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