Sunday, September 19, 2010

The New Remembrancers

"Ripping up the stereotypes" the Western Mail boasts of its new series on the history of Wales. I wonder if at the end of the exercise we'll have to add "and creating some new ones."

It would help if in his introduction Dai Smith would call a spade a spade. "A tsunami of truth-telling unwelcome to myth-makers and know-nothings alike." That sounds great but what does it mean? If the know-nothings include that embarrassing stuff you find on tea-towels such as Welsh being the oldest language in Europe, all well and good. But who are the myth-makers? Gwynfor Evans? I'd like to know.

Anyway exiles and skinflints can read the first contribution "Did we really descend from the Celts?" here. I can't say I was impressed - on the printed page it looked a right mess - and shouldn't an article on Welsh origins at least mention DNA.

I think it's a bit of a scandal that so little DNA testing has been done in Wales. As far as I can see we still seem to be relying on the tiny samples taken during the BBC's "Blood of the Vikings" series a few years ago. The sample sites for that were particularly ill-chosen: Llangefni, Llanidloes - slap bang in the middle of a 16C plantation that gave rise to surnames such as Wigley, Jarman and Peate, and Haverfordwest. All interesting locations in themselves of course but hardly typical. If anyone can point me to some recent work on Welsh DNA please do.

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