The Anglo Saxon Invasion Thesis revisited

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    Just looked through the posts under “Did the Anglo Saxons invade Britain?” from some months back. Late last year Oxbow Publishing released "Myth and History: Ethnicity & Politics in the First Millennium British Isles" by Stephen James Yeates. This is an exhaustive survey of the evidence, coming at it from all angles. (Arf Arf!). In summary Yeates concludes that by the time the Romans left, much of Eastern Britain and perhaps most of Scotland was already speaking a Germanic language, Belgic, that was the forerunner of early English. So while power might have changed hands during the 6th century onwards, ethnicity didn't. The traditional tale of an Anglo Saxon invasion owed too much to Bede who was a single, partial and sometimes demonstrably inaccurate source. His conclusions seem to reinforce those of Brian Sykes based on DNA evidence and written up in 'Blood of the Isles' etc. On the plus side the depth and scope of this meta-study is impressive, ranging from linguistics to isotope analysis. On the negative side Sykes conclusions were challenged by linguists and some of Yeates earlier works on the myths of the Dobunni and Hwicce tribes were described as speculative. I do think that in some cases he asserts more on the basis of the cited evidence than perhaps he should. But as it stands I reckon that he & Sykes have the more convincing argument. I don't understand linguistics but the tone of their argument there seemed to be defensive e.g.'how dare you question our deciphering of the runes'. The book is priced at around £28 by Oxbow (who are specialist historical publishers) but knowing them it will drop fairly quickly. It is always worth checking their catalogue for specialist stuff.  

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