A massive genetic analysis sheds new light on ancient Britain.
In the Early Middle Ages, groups of people from mainland Europe migrated to the British Isles and dramatically reshaped society in their new homelands.
Some scholars have hypothesized that the Anglo Saxons were wealthy elites, but more recent analyses show that they were likely of similar economic status to the local populations on the Isles.
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But questions remain about how early medieval society was structured on the Isles.
© Duncan Sayer, University of Central Lancashire
Researchers studied the remains of 460 individuals who were buried in Britain and northwest Europe between 200 and 1300 AD.
278 of those individuals came from British gravesites.
The researchers also looked at other artifacts like grave goods and weapons buried with the individuals in Britain.
Those artifacts help determine the social status and wealth — or lack thereof — of the Anglo-Saxon migrants and their native counterparts.
This ancestry shows that it was quite common for the Anglo-Saxons and the local population to intermix.
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And the findings also support the idea that Anglo-Saxon migration was a widespread, mass migration, instead of being limited to an elite few.
For example, researchers found that female individuals who had more local DNA were less likely than their continental European counterparts to be buried with grave goods.
However, male individuals were just as likely to have been buried with weapons regardless of their ancestry.
And burial differences varied from site to site across Britain, showing that some regions may have been more socially separated than others.