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Migrants in Medieval England, c. 500-c. 1500$
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W. Mark Ormrod, Joanna Story, and Elizabeth M. Tyler

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266724

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266724.001.0001

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Isotopic and Genetic Evidence for Migration in Medieval England

Isotopic and Genetic Evidence for Migration in Medieval England

(p.19) 2 Isotopic and Genetic Evidence for Migration in Medieval England
Migrants in Medieval England, c. 500-c. 1500

Mark Jobling

Andrew Millard

British Academy

Two sources of evidence, ratios of stable isotopes and sequences of DNA molecules, can illuminate histories of human migration. Studies of skeletal remains from medieval cemeteries in England, using oxygen and strontium isotope analyses to investigate places of childhood residence, reveal more mobility than anticipated and sometimes migration from unexpected directions. Whole-genome sequencing of a few individuals provides new insights into Anglo-Saxon migration and the diversity of origins of individuals buried in Roman York. Analysis of DNA variation in modern samples provides only indirect evidence about the medieval period, and considerable uncertainty about the timing of any deduced past migration events. This chapter argues that an explicit modelling framework should be developed permitting combined interpretation of DNA data (modern and ancient) and isotope data which, when applied to the same samples, will provide new insights about migration and mobility, and about the reliability and interpretation of these two sources of evidence.

Keywords:   Genetics, DNA, Isotopes, Archaeology, Burials, Whole-genome sequencing, Migration, Mobility

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