Tuesday, 11 August 2015
The Iceni, a Germanic Tribe?
People are beginning to wake up to the fiction that Britain was 'Celtic' prior to the Roman invasion of 43 CE. At not time did the British tribes or classical writers describe the inhabitants of Britain as being 'Celtic'. That does not of course exclude the possibility of a Celtic presence in Britain but the facts of the matter are far more complex. Interesting recent genetic surveys uphold the presence of Germanic DNA in the English and British gene pools but fail to identify any evidence for a "single 'Celtic' genetic group". Indeed the Scottish, Norther Irish, Welsh and Cornish do not show up in the genetic evidence as an identifiable and different genetic group. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/18/genetic-study-30-percent-white-british-dna-german-ancestry
Of course one could interpret this as evidence of the genocide of local native populations by the waves of Germanic colonisers such as the Anglo-Saxons. This would of course fit the historical narrative presented by the 6th century CE British monk Gildas in his De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae. A interesting exposition of his work can be found in Celt and Saxon: The Struggle for Britain AD 410-937 by Peter Berresford Ellis (1993). His work is very interesting but the latter referred to book comes across as very anti-English but I would still encourage my readers to read it and overlook the 'Celtic' bias.
Modern writers and 'scholars' writing about first century CE Britain tend to fall into two camps, those who claim that 'we are all Celts' and deny the English their very real Germanic identity or try to polarise the differences between the English and other native populations. Perhaps it is time for a third position on this issue, that 'we are all Germanic' now?
In the light of the absence of clearly identifiable Celtic DNA we should look again at certain accepted truths and one of these concerns the ethnic identity of Boudicca, the first century CE queen of the Iceni who occupied what became Norfolk in East Anglia. She is descibed by Cassius Dio as having 'tawny' hair which is reddish-brown. She was tall, had piercing eyes and a harsh tone to her voice. Indeed she was a veritable Valkyrie of a woman. This description would be as equally as fitting for a Germanic queen from say the Nibelungenlied or the Volsunga Saga!
Interestingly the name of her tribe, the Iceni could mean 'blade' from the Brythonic ceni. My readers will be aware that the Germanic Saxons were named after the sax, also a blade! The fact that Boudicca and the Iceni could have Germanic origins should not surprise us as Stephen Oppenheimer in his remarkable The Origins of the British: A Genetic Detective Story (2007) reveals that Germanic people have been crossing over from mainland Germanic Europe to eastern England for centuries prior to the Anglo-Saxon invasions of the 5th century CE. He also ably demonstrated that English is much older than commonly accepted and rightly should exist in its own category as a Germanic language outside of the West and North Germanic language groups. We also now know that Stonehenge Phases II and III was the product of colonising Indo-Germanic Beaker Folk and Battle Axe Folk thousands of years ago! Furthermore the Germanic or partly Germanic Belgae were also already present in England by the time of the Roman Conquest and it is widely accepted that they introduced the Cult of Gwydion or Woden into England.
The Iceni minted their own coins without the need for importing Roman ones and this was a mark of how advanced their civilisation was. Remarkably they featured what appears to be Woden on some of their coins and His horse on the obverse side.
Thus we may summarise that for thousands of years England has experienced wave after wave of Germanic immigration before the Anglo-Saxons with the coming of the Beaker Folk, Battle Axe Folk and the Belgae. Rightly can England claim to be a part of greater Germania and long may it be so! The Anglo-Saxons were in a very real sense COMING HOME!