How Anglo Saxon are we all really? Preston professor traces our link

Posted on - 21st January, 2016 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Preston News, UCLan
Dr Duncan Sayer and the remains at Cambridge they used for their study

Dr Duncan Sayer and the remains at Cambridge they used for their study

The average British person is one third Anglo-Saxon, according to new research carried out by a Preston professor.


Dr Duncan Sayer, at the University of Central Lancashire, is part of the team who have been working to find out our exact lineage from our Anglo-Saxon forefathers.

And he’s worked out the number of genes in our DNA that match is around one third.

Dr Sayer worked on human remains excavated from burial sites near Cambridge to find the link.

Dr Duncan Sayer, UCLan archaeologist and author on the paper, said: “Combining archaeological findings with DNA data gives us much more information about the early Anglo-Saxon lives. Genome sequences from four individuals from a cemetery in Oakington indicated that, genetically, two were migrant Anglo-Saxons, one was a native, and one was a mixture of both.

“The archaeological evidence shows that these individuals were treated the same way in death, and proves they were all well integrated into the Oakington Anglo-Saxon Community despite their different biological heritage.”

The university website has more background on Dr Sayer’s study and work.

A brief history of Preston’s Anglo Saxon connections:

Preston most certainly¬†has¬†a close relationship with the Anglo Saxon era,¬†which lasted¬†for approximately 600 years, from 410 to 1066. Historian, David Hunt writes in his book, The History of Preston: “The Word [Preston] is derived from Old English (Anglo Saxon) Preosta – Tun, the ‘tun of the Priests’.¬†The Saxon origins of the town are further indicated by the relative large number of Old English names in the place-names of minor settlements in the district.”¬†Hunt also mentions that the Anglo Saxon meaning of ‘Tun’ is described as an enclosed area of ground surrounding a single¬†dwelling or number of buildings associated with a large manor.

Saint Wilfrid was an Anglo Saxon bishop who was granted land near the Ribble in about 670 AD and appears to be greatly associated with Preston by virtue that he became the Patron Saint of Preston; indeed, the Parish Church was at one time known as Saint Wilfrids until the Reformation, when it became the Church of Saint John the Evangelist and today, Preston Minster.

Cuerdale Hoard stone

This stone commemorates the finding of the Cuerdale Hoard of Viking treasure. It is to be found on the south bank of the river Ribble, about 400 metres downstream from the Tickled Trout hotel near Preston. Pic: Geraint Johnes

Another landmark of Anglo Saxon presence in Preston was the discovery of the ‘Cuerdale Hoard’¬†on 15 May 1840, by workmen engaged in repairing the embankment on the south side of the River Ribble.¬†The Cuerdale Hoard is the greatest Viking silver treasure trove ever found, outside Russia, far exceeding in scale and range any hoard found in the Scandinavian homelands or in the western areas of Viking settlement. Containing around 8,600 items of silver coins and bullion when found, and weighing some 40kg¬†and¬†is generally believed to have been buried by Vikings who were fleeing from Dublin (Ireland) around 905 AD; it has an estimated value today of almost ¬£3 million.

Preston Guild Pageant, September 1922

Preston Guild Pageant, September 1922. The Primitive Saxons.  Pic: Preston Digital Archive

Preston’s Anglo Saxon era was celebrated in the Preston Guild Pageant of 1922. School children acted the part of Anglo Saxon farmers and falconers. The¬†children were chosen to take part¬†in the well scripted pageant in Avenham Park to show Preston throughout the ages and to express the importance of children to the development of the town and its future.¬†¬†The image above shows some of the¬†children¬†from St. Ignatius Boys School under the direction of Mr. Hosker, assisted by Mr. Frank Pyke.

What do you think of the findings? Have you traced your family tree? How far back did it go? Let us know in the comments below

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