Basque roots found in Britain and Ireland

March 7, 2007

A British geneticist says the Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh may have more ancestors in common than current inhabitants would like to believe.

While historians have taught that the Irish are descended from the Celts and the English are descended from the Anglo-Saxons, University of Oxford medical geneticist Stephen Oppenheimer says it is likely that Britain and Ireland are inhabited by a single people, The New York Times reported.

Oppenheimer, in his book "The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story," said DNA testing suggests the ancestors, who arrived about 16,000 years ago, were mostly from Spain. He said they spoke a language related to Basque.

Oppenheimer said DNA from later invaders accounts for 20 percent of the gene pool in Wales, 30 percent in Scotland, about a third in eastern and southern England and 12 percent in Ireland, the newspaper said.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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