Navel-Gazing About the R-DF95 Jutes Part Two

In my previous post I swung back around to Dover, Kent, and the Jutes and tried to find evidence for their existence along with some explanation that would get them from the top of Jutland to the bottom of Brittain without seeming like they were lost.

We established through myths and later writings of oral traditions that the Danes and Jutes had a presence in Frisia, down the north-western coast of the continent, and that there seemed to be a common underlying culture even if people had differentiated themselves into tribes.

The Jutes seem to be a known group within the culture, but not much outside of it. Since the migration-period Germanic tribes were illiterate, that intra-cultural knowledge gets stored in the attic and hinted at.

Maybe in 500CE everyone around the continental north sea and baltic knew what a Jute was; they just had no way to communicate that to the future in a way we would understand.

map of beowulfs world

The Franks

Along with Jutes in Jutland, Danish Jutes, Anglian Jutes, and Frisian Jutes there is an idea that the Jutes were under the rule of the Franks…possibly. You can see the Franks on the map above as “Francan” down below Frisians.

King Theudebert (500 CE – 547 CE) sends a letter to Emperor Justinian in Rome claiming both the Saxons and the Eucii who may also be the Yutes…or Jutes as his subjects. My source is Letter 20 found at this site:

“To our Distinguished Lord, Most Excellent Master and Father, Emperor Justinian, from King Theudebert.

The anticipated arrival of Theodore transpired with that of Solomon who brought letters which we accepted with complete regard and allegiance of spirit which rejoices in the mercy of your dominion. Your charge assists us in extending the loving friendship of God to many races and in some provinces but now our enemies with the help of God have submitted to our authority. By the wish of the Lord, the Thuringians were controlled and their territories acquired, then in time their kings were abolished; next the North Sueves were subjugated, the Visigoths declared subdued and, by the grace of God, now Gaul is safe. As well, in the north region of Italy and then Pannonia the Saxons and Eucii delivered themselves to us by particular choice. Our rule extends from the Danube and the limits of Pannonia to the shores of the ocean through the protection of God. As confirmed by your letter, your August Highness, we are certain of the progress of the Catholics and rejoice in complete delight of spirit. For this reason, God granting your desires, longing in eager spirit we enjoin by plain proposition that your fame will endure and the friendship of former emperors is seen often in your assurance of kindness, therefore, let us join together for the common good.”

The speculation then is that the Eucii are Jutes and that there are Jutes among the Franks right across from Kent. Basically, the possibility that they’ve hopped down the coast and parked in Flanders or Northern France long enough to be considered under the control of the Franks (by the Franks).

map of western europe featuring Franks in modern Belgium and northwest France.
borrowed from

This assessment of the Anglo-Saxon invasions talks about the Saxons moving into Frisian mound villages that were later abandoned maybe the Jutes were among them and then moved farther south before heading for Britain:

The paper has this to say about Bede’s assessment of the groups involved and complexity seen on the ground:

“Bede stated that the invaders came from the Continental Angles, Saxons and Jutes [43]. It is likely that Bede was reducing a very complex situation to simple terms. Bede placed the Angles north of the Thames, the Saxons south of the Thames and in Wessex, and the Jutes in Kent and on the Isle of Wight. For Bede, the Angles came from Angulus, modern Schleswig which still has a district called Angeln. The Saxons came from the coast between the Elbe and the Weser valleys and the Jutes resided north of the Angles in Danish Juteland or in Holstein [44].

Other literary sources indicate the possible presence of Franks among the immigrants. Archaeology also indicates that Swaefe, Alemanni, Swedes, and Danes were present. This is not surprising if we assume that the Volkwandering caused a high degree of cultural mixing between the Elbe and the Ems where most of the settlers in Britain originated [45].”

The Franks are literate, so their perspective is at least available, and they offer the possibility of getting the Jutes from Jutland to Anglia to Frisia to Francia as a secondary tribe to the Danes, Angles, Frisians, and Saxons.

That sort of migration makes sense logistically and archaeologically (as pointed out by Assessing the Anglo Saxon Invasions, but the text of the letter is confusing.

“In the north region of Italy and then Pannonia the Saxons and Eucii delivered themselves to us by particular choice.”

Pannonia is east of Northern Italy and northwest of Greece (dark red in the map below).

map of the roman empire including pannonia east of northern italy, northwest of greece.
Pannonia. (2022, September 28). In Wikipedia.

Ending up in Frankish territory seems reasonable, but I’m not sure how to interpret that letter to Justinian other than that Saxons were among many Germanic tribes on the move in all directions and some had gone south and east? Maybe there was an incursion in Pannonia? I’m just not sure how it would be related to the Northern coast of Francia. Most references I can find for Eucii just end up with the Jutes. Trying to follow this trail gets pretty circular very quickly. The mention from Theudebert is interesting and seemingly supported by modern evidence, but locationally challenged.

Everywhere and Nowhere

The Jutes seem to lurk around every corner, always there but not really out front. Even in Kent, they’re not in East Jutia, they call themselves men of Kent. Unlike the Saxons with their sexs and Angles with their anglia, the Jutes seem to fade into the woodwork, always being part of some other group. Even after invading Britain, they identify themselves with the British Cantii (Kentings). Bede seems to care to keep them separate, but they seem happy enough to blend in. Hidden in plain sight. Maybe instead of Jutes on both sides, we end up with a theory of Jutes on all sides. Mercenary settlers.

In the migration period, in a single lifetime, people moved from Scandinavia down to Hungary with the Lombards (that has been proven with isotope analysis, an R-Z18 man made that trip with a group of non-Scandinavians). In light of that, Jutes moving from Jutland to Anglia, to Frisia to what would become Belgium or France doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Possibly picking up some Frankish DNA along the way seems reasonable in that interconnected world where everyone is moving.

map of barbarian routes showing various non-roman tribal movements in the Roman world. The spaghetti mess trying to track the tribal movements

In the Anglo-Saxon study, the CNE people in the south of England had the most diversity. They had mixed communities with British (WBI) men holding high status along with Continental Northern Europeans who intermarried creating mixed families within a generation or so. Why not mix it up with the Franks too?

Back to the Anglo-Saxon DNA Study

In the article from Nature: they try to assess whether the Anglo-Saxons in Jutish areas have more Scandinavian DNA than those from Saxony, but at the end of the study they conclude that the Jutes don’t contain any more Scandinavian DNA as a percentage than other groups.

“We therefore conclude that there is no association between geographic location and fraction of ancestry from the Scandinavian Peninsula. If Saxons, Angles, and Jutes were meaningful biological categories that remained valid after the migration to England, then they were not correlated with varying degrees of ancestry from the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Not that there wasn’t Scandinavian DNA in varying levels among individuals, but that as an entire population it wasn’t meaningfully different between Jutes and Angles or Saxons…or Frisians.

“The majority of early medieval samples from England cluster in PCA closely together with present-day Danes, Northern Germans, and Northern Dutch. However, in the North Sea PCA as well as in the Northwestern European PCA some individuals tend to be shifted northwards across PC1 in the direction of modern Swedish and Norwegians.” It seems like some individuals trended to Scandinavia, but again the group was otherwise pretty homogenous.

This map shows the most likely source region (along with individual locations) for the continental northern europeans in the study. It shows a swath from the northern netherlands, northern germany denmark and southern sweden.
This map shows the most likely source region (along with individual locations) for the continental northern europeans in the study

Meanwhile, people in Buckland in Dover (like our DF95 families) have CWE (iron age France) DNA admixed in. They are mainly CNE (Continental Northern Europeans) but contain a percentage of DNA from Continental Western Europe instead of more Scandinavian DNA.

“PCA implies that several sites, especially from southern England (namely Apple Down, Buckland, Eastry, and Rookery Hill) exhibit remarkable diversity in terms of their ancestry. Besides England, Iron Age, and early medieval Lower Saxony-like ancestries, we also find individuals that cluster with present-day southern and western Europeans, especially with Belgians and French.

As indicated by PCA, supervised ADMIXTURE identifies sizable proportions of modern French/Belgian-like ancestry in our ancient samples, reaching as much as 100% in some individuals (Supp. Fig. 5.6a, Supp. Table 5.5). Calculating the average for each site, we find, congruently with our qpAdm approach, the highest proportions of French/Belgian-like ancestry in Lincoln (59.9%), Rookery Hill (43.3%), Apple Down (27.8%), Eastry (25.6%), and Dover Buckland (22.5%) (Supp. Fig. 5.6b). In the remaining sites, French/Belgian-like ancestry accounts for less than 10% of the total ancestry. In summary, additional western and/or southern European related ancestry appears to be the main cause for the remarkable genetic diversity observed especially in southern English early medieval sites”

A new article from has a nice breakdown of what they discovered and the methods they used in the study:

When talking about the Continental Northern European ancestry that dominates in the newcomers to England, you can almost see the Beowulf map above reflected in the genetic map of likely origins in the study. The genetics were pan-regional even if the names and groupings were divided.

“We found that the greatest similarity is seen in a region spanning Friesland (present-day Netherlands), Niedersachsen and Schleswig-Holstein (present-day Germany), and modern Denmark up to the southern tip of Sweden. Strikingly, all of these areas had a remarkably homogeneous genetic profile during the period that we are studying, making all three probable source regions for the migration process into early medieval England.”

Later they discuss the differences between the migrants to Northern and Southern England:

“Most early medieval people who have been studied in central and northern England show exclusively CNE ancestry, which implies that the ancestors of those individuals originated directly from the above-identified areas and did not admix with other populations on their way across the North Sea. In contrast, in southern England, especially Kent, many individuals exhibit additional French-related ancestry. We cannot rule out that this admixture between CNE and French-related ancestry occurred already on the Continent, potentially in a contact zone between both ancestries, for example in what is now the southern Netherlands, Belgium, western Germany, or northern France.”

They present this map showing two probable migration routes one direct to northern anglo-saxon locations and one indirect to southern anglo-saxon locations for CNE people based on their differing genetics:

map of possible northern and southern routes of migration, directly from CNE or passing through Frankish regions on the way south
borrowed from

The Tangled Web We Weave

The DNA study seems to conclude that the Anglo-Saxon invasion may not have been without conflict, but given admixing (possibly on the continent) and admixing with native Britons once in England, it may not have been as contentious as described. In different areas of England people seem to be getting along as part of a community and as integrated families. Our R-DF95 Jutes in the south seem to be intermingled pretty well.

The DNA evidence, family groups and continued high status of Britons make it seem like less of an invasion and more of a migration over time. The idea that the Germanic migrants were welcomed from the writings of Gildas seems to be true enough; whether they really turned on the Britons and destroyed them seems suspect.

I found an interesting video that explores some non-conquest reasons that we might see this level of admixing and still end up with a Germanic society in eastern Britain.

What is ironic to me today is that the Y DNA evidence from these ancient remains is kind of flipped from the autosomal DNA when taken in the context of modern testers for R-DF95.

If we look at that map and consider our R-DF95 cousins in Buckland Cemetery in Dover, Kent, particularly BUK009 who is in haplogroup R-DF95->R-PH1163. He has 11% CWE ancestry (green on the map there) but no appreciable Scandinavian DNA. His Y haplogroup has only been found recently in Denmark and Norway. Very rare, just two living people, neither one from Belgium or the Netherlands.

My own R-DF95->ZP121 branch is more common; our representative in the study is HAD005, his family has no CWE French/Belgian component, and he’s with the Angles on that direct route straight out of the red zone in the map above. His relative in the study does show some appreciable Scandinavian DNA. Yet R-ZP121 has very clearly been found in Belgium and the Netherlands in modern testers.

Modern Y DNA would support a Jutes straight out of Jutland scenario, but the ancient autosomal DNA begs to differ.

Going back to our two locations, HAD005 is an Angle (based on location in Cambridge). Our men in Kent are Jutes (based on location in Kent), but there isn’t much in the DNA study that would separate them except that the people in Kent seem to be mixed with people from across the Channel. I think it’s possible to get a band of Jutes from Denmark down the coast ready to cross over to Kent given the few historical and semi-mythical sources we have. I think you could make an argument for Tolkein’s “Jutes on both sides” or even a “Jutes on all sides” theory of a Jutish diaspora that takes place well before the invasion of England. Jutes may have been a culturally significant division at some point, but not a biological one by the time they start settling Thanet.

At the end of the day, how do I know HAD005 is not a Jute living with Angles? How would I know BUK009 isn’t an Angle? Maybe they’re all Frisians or Saxons? Bede may be splitting hairs that the migrants themselves didn’t.

I don’t think the DNA study can tell us. The oldest R-DF95 people found to date have already migrated from whatever homeland they were personally from as part of a regional movement among like people with a shared language, culture, and genetic heritage.


    • I’m really hopeful that we will find more ancient samples. The coverage on these tests for Y DNA seemed better than other Y tests which usually only pick up high-level SNPs like U106 or Z18, but not as good as it could be. I’m thinking they found the downstream haplogroups they could find with the testing they have. Further analysis of the results might turn up more. For our branch, ZP121, HAD005 is the only ancient Y DNA I know of. There were two other CTS12023/DF95 men in Kent and no resolution deeper. I’m sure they have a haplogroup closer in time, but their results may not have the resolution to show it. For all we know they could be down any existing branch or a new one.

      • I should also say I’m biased towards our Y DNA refuge being in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden. The FTNDA time tree estimate for our ZP85 branch is around 700 BCE with other groups splitting off around 670 to 100 BCE. I think our recovery begins at the end of the Nordic Bronze age. By the time our men from the anglo-saxon study settle in Britain, we’ve had roughly 1000 years to expand, move and form new branches.

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