The Irish not of Celtic origin?

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The uncertainty of science: The discovery of a burial site in Ireland has thrown into doubt all theories concerning the Celtic origins of the Irish.

“The DNA evidence based on those bones completely upends the traditional view,” said Barry Cunliffe, an emeritus professor of archaeology at Oxford who has written books on the origins of the people of Ireland. DNA research indicates that the three skeletons found behind McCuaig’s are the ancestors of the modern Irish and they predate the Celts and their purported arrival by 1,000 years or more. The genetic roots of today’s Irish, in other words, existed in Ireland before the Celts arrived.

The article is quite detailed and outlines the overall scientific problem of the Celts, which is now quite unclear about who they were, where they came from, and where they went.

In related news: Scientists have found new evidence of a human presence in Ireland as far back as 12,500 years ago.


  • Rene Borbon

    Fascinating article. Thank you Bob.

    You may have seen the the series the Celts, which has been on Hulu for some time. This series mentions the origin of the Celts being central Europe and the Celts moving westward over time.

    I think the timelines for the Celts are subject to further revision as we learn more. And it is becoming clearer that the history of the Celts is not so clear genetically. A fascinating cultural history.

  • Wayne

    Rene Borbon:
    You might enjoy:
    “Human Admixture; Atlas of the last 4000 years, or, Meet the in-laws.” Nicholas Wade NYT.
    Just navigate to his download page; fascinating 12 minute discussion on tracing ancestory via genetic markers.

  • D K Rögnvald Williams

    There were people in Britannia prior to the Celts, so it stands to reason there were people in Eire before the Celts as well.

  • wodun

    I was going to guess Picts but the timeline and location don’t match up. The answer might lie underwater, assuming all traces of humans weren’t washed away in the mega floods at the end of the last glaciation.

    It is amazing how DNA has changed the field of archeology.

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