Navel-Gazing About The R-DF95 Jutes

Three of the R-DF95/CTS12023 men from the Anglo-Saxon migration study show up in Kent. One of those men is on a Y male line that is currently very rare (R-PH1163), with only two modern testers. One tester is from Norway, and one is from Denmark.

First, I want to make another note that R-DF95 is relatively rare among R1b men. We’re a line that fairly recently, nearly went extinct. There are 142 of us tested with Big Y today. There are some people who are untested with Big Y that match our Y STR pattern or have limited SNP testing not counted in that number, but it’s still a small group.

As an example, one of our most generic Y STR testers has only 164 Y matches at the 25 STR level, but my cousin in a different haplogroup under R1b has over 5000 matches with other men at that level.

Family Tree DNA gives us (R-DF95) a most recent common ancestor estimate of 722 BCE.

The parent for our group R-Z18 (according to FTDNA) is back at 2190 BCE. So what we have currently is a roughly 1500-year gap with no branches in our male line family tree. We have 26 SNPs in a straight line. Keeping in mind that we’ve shown SNP branches popping up every few generations in modern testers, there are a lot of generations of men that are missing there.

R-Z18 has 2180 testers, we’re not the smallest group under R-Z18, but we pale in comparison to one of the larger groups R-Z17 which has 1164 testers with multiple surviving branches right from the root.

What I’m leading up to is that R-DF95 currently makes up about 7% of R-Z18 men, but in this study of Anglo-Saxons, we’re fully a third of the R-Z18 men represented. We’re over-represented because of the results in Kent. So it seems like it would be good to pay attention to the Jutes.

In a previous posting, I asked how I would know if our guys were Jutes or Franks? Well, I’m still not really sure how you would know from grave goods, so I’m moving forward with two assumptions. Our guys are “Jutes” because of their Continental Northern European designation in the study and because “Jutes” settled in Kent.

Those assumptions beg the question, where do the Jutes come from…really? Everyone pretty much says the Angles came from Angeln or Anglia on the east side of the Jutland peninsula and that the Saxons come from Saxony in northwest Germany, south, and west of the Jutland peninsula. Some sources put the Saxons in Holstein, which would be right there with the Angles. When it comes to the Jutes there is less agreement.

Who are the Jutes?

What I have read several times searching around the internet is a narrative that the Jutes come from Northern Jutland and are kind of the top piece of bread in a sandwich that has the Angles in the middle of Jutland and the Saxons to the south. All of these people are Ingvaeones or Ingaevones and speak a type of Low German along with the Frisians and other North Sea Germanic tribes (as opposed to old Norse). At some point the Danes move into Jutland from the Islands to the east, putting pressure on the Jutes and they either move, or are absorbed…or both.

I found a great podcast on the formation of the English language and in Episode 28 Kevin Stroud kind of walks through some of the confusion around the Jutes.

TLDR, there is some discussion about whether the Jutes came straight out of Jutland or if they spent some time with the Frisians or settled in what would become Frankish territory on the continental coast before moving to Kent.

The Germanic tribes were largely illiterate. There are very few sources at the time. So we’re left with sources a few hundred years later or sources from the time that are not accurate and sources that are confusing or contradictory.

Written Sources

Isle of Thanet. (2022, August 23). In Wikipedia.
Isle of Thanet. (2022, August 23). In Wikipedia.

Everyone references Gildas. Gildas was apparently not writing a history of the Anglo-Saxon invasion from a British perspective but rebuking the Britons and basically saying the Saxon pagans were a punishment for the bad behavior of British kings. So he was writing, not for a future audience, but for an audience that knew exactly what happened because they just lived through it. Because of that, it is vague. The key idea is that the Saxons (and to the British everyone from the Germanic tribes was a Saxon) were invited by a “Proud Tyrant” and settled in the east of the Island. At some point, the deal with the Saxons breaks down, and they call in more forces from the continent and take over Kent. It’s sort of a deal with the devil, but really not unlike deals the Romans had with Germanic tribes. Gildas is a semi-contemporary source, writing just after the events took place. Since all Germanic tribes were saxons, Gildas lists no Jutes.

Here are some excerpts from Gildas:

Procopius a Byzantine historian (also semi-contemporary to Gildas and the invasion) says that Brittia was inhabited by Angles, Frisians, and Britons (whom the island was named for). He also says that Brittania is ruled by the Franks. Procopius is talking about two regions Brittia (an island) and Brittania (not listed as an island). E. A. Thompson (no relation) shows support for the theory that Brittia is the island of Britain (populated by Angles, Frisians, and Britons) and Britannia is Armorica/Brittany based on geographic clues and what we know about Britain and Brittany. Although Procopius attributes the movement to Brittany to overpopulation on the Island, not an exodus to escape the Frisians. His sources are Franks who want to control Brittany…but apparently don’t.

Of note, Procopius doesn’t list any Jutes. Just Angles and Frisians on the island of Brittia and that seems to be a perspective of the Franks.

In the mid-500s then it was basically a done deal the Germanic tribes had territory in Brittain, and the Britons had been migrating to Brittany.

Then we have Bede (late 600s early 700s) who is more careful because he’s writing about his own people hundreds of years after the incidents. He references Gildas, but in his narrative, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes were the righteous scourge of the British as intended by the Lord, and of course, they are no longer pagan.

Here is an excerpt from Bede:

Bede is the one who places the Jutes north of the Angles and Saxons. He lists Hengist and Horsa, the mythical or semi-mythical founders who eventually took over Kent. He is referencing Gildas, and so the invaders are butchering people in heaps as intended by God. He does mention the Britons fleeing over the seas which I believe is a reference to Brittany. Of note, he doesn’t list Frisians like Procopius.

Nennius comes to us from the 800s. He’s writing from the perspective of the British. I believe he’s Welsh. He has more of a story to tell concerning Hengist and Vortigern and the ill actions of the British king. He also begins the legend of Arthur (or begins the modern understanding of it). He places the Saxons on the Isle of Thanet, which was given to them (it’s no longer an island). It looks like he references Bede and Gildas and adds to it with a more Britano-Celtic overtone. He writes about the wrath of God, but is more inclined to the wonders of the Britons and adding a hero for the Britons.

In the sections of his writing that I’ve seen, he does not mention Jutes or Angles:

Minus Bede, the Jutes seem pretty incognito…or at least overlooked. Where are all the Jutes?

The Finnsburh fragment and Beowulf

The finnsburg or Finnsburh or finnesburg fragment is the remaining part of a document about the fight at Finnsburh in Frisia. Although Beowulf is a fictional story it contains within it a telling of another story about the battle of finnsburg. Where the Finnsburg fragment leaves off, Beowulf helps fill gaps (albeit from the perspective of the Danes). One of the reasons this becomes important is that the Finnsburg episode happens around the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasion and it contains a central character named Hengest. One theory is that this Hengest is the Hengist of Hengist and Horsa who begins the Anglo-Saxon invasion by leading the Jutes to Kent.

map of the world of Beowulf geats in southern sweden. Heorot in zealand the jutes, danes and frisians.
borrowed from

Here is a link to the fragment: and the notes from the fragment: in the notes you can see Hengest listed this way: “Hengist apparently the leader of the ‘Half-Danes’ after the slaying of Hnaef, though various critics have identified Hengest as a Jute, Frisian or Angle. This Hengest is perhaps identical to the (semi-)historical Hengest who conquered Kent”.

The battle of Finnsburg picks up after some events have taken place, so in Beowulf, there is no explanation of why the Finnsburg battle takes place because the audience is supposed to be familiar with it. I’m going to include a nice video link that goes through the story of the battle and some theories surrounding the source of the conflict and the role of the Jutes.

The Jutes, enigmatic as ever, are mentioned in the battle of Finnsburg on the side of the Danes, but there is some debate about them also being listed on the side of the Frisians. Like bands of displaced mercenaries, there are scholars who believe the Jutes are fighting on both sides of the conflict. That was a theory put forward by Tolkein (who wrote fantasy, but whose day job was as a professor of Anglo-Saxon studies). The debate comes down to spelling and pronunciation and also errors in transcription.

The reason pronunciation and errors in transcription/alternate spellings come into play is because the J in Jute is a Y in these north sea germanic languages. They’re Yutes or Eotas. That pronunciation is really close to the word for Giants or Eoten as a form of generic monster.

One theory supposes that the Jutes are the untold cause of the incident because the Finnsburg story is about the truce between the Frisians and the Danes. Finn makes the truce and the argument is that the Danes would not have negotiated with Finn (a king of Frisia and husband to the Danish princess) if he had killed a Danish prince. They would negotiate with him if he were “responsible” for the killing of a Danish prince because his Jutes (retained by the Frisians) got out of hand and started a scuffle with the Danes…who also had Jutes in tow. Maybe an inter-Jutish dispute caused the Frisians to attack the Danes who were guests of Finn.

I think it is accepted that Hengest has Jutes with him who are on the side of the Danes and some scholars (like Tolkien) believe the Frisians have their own Jutes, but that is disputed. It’s also not certain that the two Hengists (Finnsburg and Kent) are the same, but highly suspected to be the case because they’re alive at the same time in the same areas, have leadership roles, and are involved with Jutes.

In the story, Hengest becomes the leader of the “half Danes” at Finnsburg when their prince is killed by the Frisians (and maybe some Jutes). Some sources say Hengist is an Angle, some a Jute…maybe a Dane. Mixed in here in my online searches is an idea that the Jutes are sort of vassals to the Angles. So Hengist being an Angle leading Jutes would be in character. TLDR Hengist eventually breaks his oath to king Finn of Frisia, after being Finn’s guest through the winter, and kills him in retribution for the Danish prince, then takes Finn’s wife back to the Danes.

Finn’s wife is a tragic character, her son dies along with her brother (the Prince of the Danes) then her husband Finn is killed and she is returned to the Danes like cargo.

One central idea is that Hengest has to make a choice between breaking an oath to Finn to abide by their agreement after accepting hospitality or settling a blood feud and restoring the honor of the Danes by killing Finn who could be an “innocent” man.

The fight at Finnsburg is important because it leads up to and could explain Hengest taking a band of mercenary Jutes to Kent looking for work and land. It’s possible he could not return to Frisia/Saxony/Denmark because of what he did, or that this episode gave him the resources to gather up the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons and start an eventual invasion by breaking his oath to protect the Britons. Hengist being put into the position of having to break his oaths for some greater purpose may be the back story within the story…within another story.

Ah, there goes Hengest again…breaking the agreements.

This video was a great help in figuring out what was going on with Finnsburg and Beowulf:

Along with the above video I also read through a few papers on the Jutes and Finnsburg/Beowulf to try to get a handle on the different theories surrounding them.

Here is a paper on the “Half Danes” which talks about the critical idea that they were half danes not because they were part Jutish, but because their honor needed to be restored by avenging the death of their prince:

Here is a paper on the role of the Jutes in the Finnsburg episode that explains how the Jutes may have been the hidden cause of the conflict and the internal struggles of the key players:

Those two require granted access, but this thoughtful review of work done by Tolkien and others is freely available. The post talks about the conflict of Hengist, the theory that the half-danes are also half-jutes, the Jutes on both sides theory, and the possibility that Hengist racked up enough enemies that it was best to seek his fortune with the Britons:

Jutes Up and Down the Coast

Even if we don’t subscribe to Tolkien’s theory of Jutes on both sides we have a decent reference to Hengist/Hengest and the Danes and Jutes having a presence in Frisia. Although it seems like there ARE Jutes, maybe they don’t have the importance in the world the Bede places on them. The Jutes seem pretty flexible with their identity. Happy enough to be Danes and maybe Frisians. The Jutes seem like the strong silent type.

Finnsburg is a tragedy, but it’s a North Sea tragedy featuring related North Sea People with a common culture. People from other cultures may not see the Jutes as separate from Angles, Saxons, or Frisians and so they get forgotten.

Tucked away in the mythology and monsters are some shared memories that get Hengist and Horsa and the Jutes a little closer to Kent than the tippy top of the Jutland Peninsula.

I can do a lot of navel-gazing

This one ran long to me, so I broke it up into two parts. I think there is more that is important to look at when considering our kin in Dover and their genetic makeup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.