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I was reading that a "native" English person (the average person tracing their ancestors in England say 200 years at least) has about 30% Anglo-Saxon DNA and 3% Viking DNA.

Presumably the other 67% of the DNA is Celtish - the iron age people who lived in England from about 750BC to the Roman invasion (which apparently had very little input into the local DNA). So the average English person could trace 67% of their DNA back about 2770 years in England?

So when talking about the English, is it more correct to call them Celts or Anglo-Saxons?

In terms of culture, we have Roman culture (but little DNA) and Anglo-Saxon culture, and later Norman culture but should the English call themselves Anglo-Saxons when they have only 30% Anglo-Saxon DNA?

Or would it be better to say they are Celtish-Anglo-Saxon?

I think it would avoid confusion with people saying the English being Anglo-Saxons have only been in England since the Anglo-Saxon settlement of around 400AD. Also it would be nice if the Welsh, Scots and Irish saw the English as fellow Celts.

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    What does "Celt" mean in this context? – kimchi lover Feb 26 '20 at 21:26
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    Please document your prior research. I found this in the top results of a quick search: newscientist.com/article/… – AllInOne Feb 26 '20 at 21:29
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    A very quick search shows a study from 2018 which found that up to 4 million English men carry a Roman Y-chromosome haplotype. The study's authors conservatively estimate that at least 25% of that total is definitely of Roman origin (rather than being brought over by later migration). I don't think that 1 million men is a "negligible" amount. Citation: telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/9888402/… – Jurp Feb 26 '20 at 21:34
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    I think this question is unanswerable without a defined time period. For example, you could say that the French are actually Celt-Roman-Germans (i.e. Franks), but my guess is that your average Frenchperson, when asked, would say that they're "French". This is even more germane for countries in Eastern Europe who were overrun by Romans, Germans/Goths, Huns, Mongols, Slavs, Turks, etc. – Jurp Feb 26 '20 at 21:38
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    @AllInOne that's a very good article – zooby Feb 27 '20 at 3:51
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An Ancestry study has this to say (slightly reformatted for readability):

This is according to new analysis of the genetic history of two million people worldwide by Ancestry, the leader in family history and consumer genomics, based on data collated from the AncestryDNA home DNA test that examines a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 different genetic locations.

The results reveal the genetic ethnic make up of the ‘average’ person in the UK and what countries and/or regions they can trace their ancestry back to over the past 500 years. They found that the average UK resident is

  • 36.94% British (Anglo Saxon),
  • 21.59% Irish (Celtic) and
  • 19.91% Western European (the region covered today by France and Germany).

Following these top three regional ethnicities in the average UK resident are

  • Scandinavia (9.20%), the
  • Iberian Peninsula> (Spain/Portugal) (3.05%),
  • Italy and Greece (1.98%).

Note that these figures are an average across the results. There is more concerning variation by region within the UK:

English people have significantly less Irish ancestry (just 20% of their genetic make-up) on average compared to people living in Scotland (43.84%), Wales (31.99%) and Northern Ireland (48.49%).

English residents do however have the highest amount of Scandinavian (9.39%) and Western European (French/German) (20.45%) ancestry.

Scottish residents have the highest amount of Finnish/Northwest Russian (1.31%) heritage, which is explained by their geographic proximity.

Welsh residents have the highest proportion of ancestry from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) in the UK (3%).


This type of family history DNA study has little to do with ancient Celts, which is apparently the thought the OP has. Note the bounds mentioned at the beginning of the cited article (emphasis mine):

Study looked at the nation’s ethnicity dating back 500 years from 26 global regions

These 'ethic' DNA studies do not have enough data to go back to the ancient Celts, Gauls or Romans. They just indicate you have DNA similar to someone whose family has lived in one of these locations for a long time (the last 500 years).

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  • That's very interesting but one has to take that with a pinch of salt. Because it depends on what "Ancestry" is calling Irish DNA and what it is calling British DNA. For example, if it is just calling the modern day British DNA "British" then that would just tell us that British people have British DNA which is a tautology of sorts. So I take with a pinch of salt these DNA testing kits and so forth. – zooby Feb 27 '20 at 3:40
  • @zooby Yes, that is what my answer says. Without you providing the source for your information this is about all I can address. – justCal Feb 27 '20 at 3:43
  • @justCal Well it's a good answer but one point I disagree with is you've put "British (Anglo Saxon)" which is not true since British can also mean "Celt" as in Welsh or Scots or general Brythonic. – zooby Feb 27 '20 at 3:46
  • That is all quoted from the original article linked at the top. Not my terminology. – justCal Feb 27 '20 at 3:49
  • Based on the second quote in this answer (the one referring specifically to "English" people, the answer to your question is "No", since they have on average only 20% Irish (Celt) DNA. English would probably be best defined as "Anglo-Saxon", given the results listed. – Jurp Feb 27 '20 at 14:35

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