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Genetics and the Origins of the British Population

  1. Martin Richards1,
  2. Cristian Capelli2,
  3. James F Wilson3

Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020804



How to Cite

Richards, M., Capelli, C. and Wilson, J. F. 2008. Genetics and the Origins of the British Population. eLS.

Author Information

  1. 1

    University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

  2. 2

    University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

  3. 3

    University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2008


A combination of archaeology and evolutionary genetics has led to a reappraisal of the major demographic transitions in British prehistory. The role of ‘Celtic’ migrations has been questioned, with the aboriginal population of the islands seen largely as the result of settlement at the end of the last Ice Age, probably augmented by further settlement during the Neolithic. The demographic impact of the Anglo-Saxons, considered minor by archaeologists, has been estimated to be high by some geneticists, but this is the result of implausible assumptions about the preceding genetic composition of the islands and overinterpretation of poorly resolved genetic data.


  • archaeogenetics;
  • phylogeography;
  • British Isles;
  • mtDNA;
  • Y-chromosome;
  • founder