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The Origins of the Anglo-Saxons

Decoding the Ancestry of the English

Jean Manco

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Incorporating the latest information from cutting-edge DNA technology, this highly readable account sheds exciting new light on the origins and identity of the Anglo-Saxons – and the English


Who are the English? Their language and culture have had an impact on the modern world out of all proportion to the size of their homeland. But what do we really understand about their ancestry? Traditionally they have been seen as the descendants of those Germanic peoples who poured into Britain after the Roman legions departed, today known as the Anglo-Saxons. Alternative interpretations have questioned this picture, or suggested complications. At last, the astonishing progress made in extracting and analysing ancient DNA means that theories can be tested empirically, shedding new light on the movement and migrations of peoples in the past.

Skilfully and accessibly blending together results from this cutting-edge DNA technology with new research from archaeology and linguistics, Jean Manco reveals a long and adventurous journey before a word of English was spoken. Going beyond a narrow focus on the Anglo-Saxon period, she probes into the deep origins of the Germani and their kin, and extends the story to the language of Shakespeare, taken to the first British colony in America. The result is an exciting new history of the English people, and a groundbreaking analysis of their development.

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'Admirable … both authoritative and well written'
David Miles, Minerva

'A lot of technical information to convey, but Jean Manco does so with flair'
Current Archaeology

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 137

Publication date: 1 August 2019

ISBN: 9780500295434

About the Author

Jean Manco was a building historian who trained within an archaeological unit and applied an interdisciplinary approach to her work. She is the author of Ancestral Journeys and Blood of the Celts, both published by Thames & Hudson.