Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon genomes from East England reveal British migration history

Nat Commun. 2016 Jan 19;7:10408. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10408.

Abstract

British population history has been shaped by a series of immigrations, including the early Anglo-Saxon migrations after 400 CE. It remains an open question how these events affected the genetic composition of the current British population. Here, we present whole-genome sequences from 10 individuals excavated close to Cambridge in the East of England, ranging from the late Iron Age to the middle Anglo-Saxon period. By analysing shared rare variants with hundreds of modern samples from Britain and Europe, we estimate that on average the contemporary East English population derives 38% of its ancestry from Anglo-Saxon migrations. We gain further insight with a new method, rarecoal, which infers population history and identifies fine-scale genetic ancestry from rare variants. Using rarecoal we find that the Anglo-Saxon samples are closely related to modern Dutch and Danish populations, while the Iron Age samples share ancestors with multiple Northern European populations including Britain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology
  • Emigration and Immigration
  • England
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • United Kingdom