We are not Celts at all but Galicians
Brian Donnelly, 10 Sept. 2004
CELTIC nations such as Scotland and Ireland have more in common with the Portuguese and Spanish than with the Celts of central Europe, according to a new academic report.
Historians have long believed that the British Isles were swamped by a massive invasion of Iron Age Celts from central Europe around 500BC.
However, geneticists at Trinity College in Dublin now claim that the Scots and Irish have more in common with the people of north-western Spain. Dr Daniel Bradley, genetics lecturer at Trinity College, said a new study into Celtic origins revealed close affinities with the people of Galicia. He said: "It's well-known that there are cultural relations between the areas but now this shows there is much more. We think the links are much older than that of the Iron Age because it also shows affinities with the Basque region, which isn't a Celtic region." He added: "The links point towards other Celtic nations, in particular Scotland, but they also point to Spain."
Historians believed the Celts, originally Indo-European, invaded the Atlantic islands in a massive migration 2500 years ago. But using DNA samples from people living in Celtic nations and other parts of Europe, geneticists at the university have drawn new parallels.
Dr Bradley said it was possible migrants moved from the Iberian peninsula to Ireland as far back as 6000 years ago up until 3000 years ago. "I don't agree with the idea of a massive Iron Age invasion that took over the Atlantic islands. You can regard the ocean, rather than a barrier, as a communication route," Dr Bradley said.
Archaeologists have also been questioning the links between the Celts of eastern France and southern Germany and the people of the British Isles and the new research appears to prove their theories. The Dublin study found that people in areas traditionally known as Celtic, such as Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Brittany and Cornwall, had strong links with each other and had more in common with people from the Iberian peninsula.It also found people in Ireland have more in common with Scots than any other nation. "What we would propose is that this commonality among the Atlantic facade is much older, 6000 years ago or earlier," Dr Bradley added.There are also close links between Scotland and Ireland dating back much further than the plantations of the 1600s when many Scots moved to Northern Ireland in search of fertile farming lands, the research showed.
However, the researchers could not determine whether fair skin, freckles, red hair and fiery tempers truly are Celtic traits.Stephen Oppenheimer, professor of clinical socio-medical sciences at Oxford, said that the Celts of western Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Cornwall were descended from an ancient people living on the Atlantic coast when Britain was still attached to mainland Europe, while the English were more closely related to the Germanic peoples of the interior.He said: "The English are the odd ones out because they are the ones more linked to continental Europe. The Scots, the Irish, the Welsh and the Cornish are all very similar in their genetic pattern to the Basque."The study headed by Dr Bradley was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.