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the Anglo-Saxon period

6  ‘Be Your Own Landscape Detective, Investigating Where You Are’ by Richard Muir

7  ‘The Origins of the British, the new prehistory of Britain and Ireland from Ice-Age hunter gatherers to the Vikings as revealed by DNA analysis’ by Stephen Oppenheimer

The more efficient type of plough with a mould-board to turn the surface face-down replaced the scratch-plough around this time.  Leyton and Walthamstow were populated as scattered hamlets, presumably reflecting piecemeal clearance of trees and bushes for agriculture, but this would have been a late intervention in a landscape already transformed by prehistoric people.  Woodland remained along the Fillebrook stream.  It could provide acorns and beechmast to feed pigs, and the top-growing part of hollybushes for winter animal fodder 6, as well as wood for fuel and materials.

It used to be thought that Britain was repopulated in the Iron Age by ‘Celts’ who were later driven out of England by the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.  DNA is the component by which characteristics of particular living forms are passed from one generation to the next.  (Scientific analysis of DNA has been used in recent years to identify those guilty of murder and other serious crimes.)  DNA appears to show that modern populations mainly reflect the initial settlement of northern Europe after the last Ice Age. Migration of people into the British Isles from then until the later Middle Ages can be traced in the DNA of people alive now, but it provides a small part of their ethnic identity.  Stephen Oppenheimer summarises DNA research as showing that 68% of the ancestors of ethnically English people today “arrived long before the first farmers … These figures dwarf any perception of Celtic or Anglo-Saxon ethnicity based on concepts of more recent, massive invasions …  no individual event contributed more than a tenth of our modern genetic mix.” 7. (Interestingly Charles Dickens in ‘A Child's History of England’ sees the British people of his day as possessing the same spirit of defiance of invaders as the Britons (he does not call them Celts or Gauls) who resisted Julius Caesar, though he accepts the view that the Britons were driven out of England by the Saxons.)  But however few they were, the Saxons who settled in England moulded the landscape to a significant extent.  >>

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