Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prompted by a Comment allegedly from reader Moscow, I'm reproducing some of a post of February 2009.

A year or two back, I cited the findings of a geneticist who said that Britain’s first settlers after the last ice age had come from the eastern Mediterranean, via northern Spain. I think I suggested this meant that the infamous English pirate and coastal raider, Francis Drake - who is decidedly unpopular in these parts – was really just one of the local lads on the take. Anyway, I’ve now read Bryan Sykes’ fascinating book on the British and Irish genetic make-up – “The Blood of the Isles” – and can confirm this is now the accepted view. Most intriguingly, it lends support to Irish and Galician myths about raiders from here invading Ireland. Though it doesn’t prove these, of course. Possibly they just felt the rain reminded them of home and decided to settle.

However, the main finding of the research is that, although the Celtic language disappeared almost entirely from England, it’s not true to say the invading Angles and Saxons wiped the genetic slate clean. The English, it seems, are just as Celtic as their neighbours in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Of course, it’s a bit late now for them to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of the highly marketable Celtic ‘brand’ but it might be one way out of the recession/depression.

Talking of myths, it’s astonishing – or perhaps not – how similar these are in different countries. So we have a 12th century English king conveniently finding the bones of the mythical King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, just as he needs to establish his royal lineage. And we have some 10th century Galician Archbishop conveniently finding the bones of St James [Santiago], just as a rallying point against the invading Moors is called for. But the most fascinating coincidence is between the city of Pontevedra and the nation of Britain. Both, it seems, were mythically founded by someone wandering west after the end of the Trojan Wars - Pontevedra by Teucro, the half-brother of Ajax; and Britain, by Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas. And, just as we still have the stone post to which the boat which brought the body of St James from the Holy Land was moored, so we still have the first stone which Brutus put his foot on as he landed on ‘British’ soil. And the altar in the centre of what would become London to which he gave thanks to the goddess Diana. Who’d have thought it.

Anyway, what I’d like to know is whether there’s been any research done on the make-up of the Spanish so that we can establish whether the Galicians – as many of them love to believe - are more Celtic than anyone else in Iberia. My view is that this is nonsense – albeit harmless – but it would be good to know whether I’m right or wrong. If we don’t have this data and it's not in sight, is it too outrageous to conclude this is because few in Spain want confirmation that nearly everyone here has Moorish genes . . . ?

Back to today . . . The excellent news from Spain is that it might soon become possible to see foreign films in the original language, with subtitles for those who don't understand this. This, it's felt, will contribute to an improvement in the foreign language capabilities of the Spanish. In one press report it was ever-so-diplomatically stated that "The actors who voice over the dubbing in Spain are considered the best in the world, but the practice has contributed to the country’s population being poor at languages." And to the raising of blood pressure among foreigners subjected to the ubiquitous dubbing.

Finally . . . I've been meaning for a while to post pix of the graffiti that brightens up Pontevedra's old quarter. But this is the only one I've got on my laptop here in the UK:-


Anonymous said...

There is a lot going on toward rediscovering Galician Celtic heritage and tradition. Not all is lost. To start with, the music. It's not flamenco, is it?

I understand that you may need to take a deeper look at reality if you want to grasp the concept but whether you take it or not it is there regardless

I could argue too against the "Celticity" of the Irish, since they have all but lost their Celtic language, as well as most of Celtic traditions, but ... why should one go that way?

Moscow said...


You just confirmed what I was trying to say and that is that the Scots and Welsh are as Germanic as the English. The celtic imprint has not been wiped out, but perhaps you can confirm the percentage. Around 10%?

moscow said...

I, for once, personally couldn't care less if I have or not moorish genes, despite the fact that I happen to be half Asturian - half German. But I hope, not like some other commentators, you understood that I was writing about culture, not race when I mentioned the arabs.

Jimbob said...

Having read the book "Blood of the Isles" I seem to remember that Sykes findings indicated that the english are at most 30% germanic. Even then only in respect broadly speaking of the area around East Anglia. I do agree though at the end of the day it doesn't really matter matter.The germanic view of the UK was quite poular amongst the victorians of course, apparently Victoria and Albert thought the highland scots looked like rhinelanders

Candide said...

Didn't you mean "half Austrian", Moscow?


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