Race & origins

Please note that I do not have expert knowledge on this subject. I am only giving personal opinions based on what I have read and through my own experience. I accept no responsibility for any actions that you may take based on the content herein.

Please see my 'Contact' page re email address.

I have started this page with a few notes about the Universe, our Earth & how we humans arrived here - all summarised into a few paragraphs; please read on, as it does eventually get around to ancient and present-day British races - I promise. Alternatively, you may prefer to scan down to see if there is anything of interest to you.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. Genesis 1 (NRSV).

It is believed that the Universe was created by 'The Big Bang' about 13.77 billion years ago, and that there are about 400 billion galaxies in it, though some just say 'over 100 billion' galaxies. About 400,000 years after 'Big Bang', the first stars were formed and by 400 million years ago, they had brought the first light to the Universe as they consumed the gases around them and formed the first heavy elements, prior to which the Universe was total darkness. Most stars live for about 10 billion years; however, some giant stars die much sooner, in as little as a million years then collapses to form a black hole with gama ray bursts - these are known as Hypernova.

Most, if not all, galaxies have a 'Black Hole' in the centre, normally with its size in direct proportion to the hundreds of billions of stars and their solar systems around each of them. Though one of these 'Black Holes' is now known to be enormous and vastly bigger than the galaxy around it, which has disrupted the 'direct proportion' theory. Each galaxy contains 100s of billions of stars, and each of which is surounded by a solar system with planets and moons. Somewhere 'out there' there must be life, though not necessarily anything like life on Earth. As far as we know, there are two possible forms of life: Carbon based (like on Earth) or Silicon-based (rather like our computer microchips!). It is interesting to note that we, just like computers, need to 'switch off' (sleep) or our systems crash, and that during sleep we clean out unwanted data in our brains and store those matters we will retain. If we are deprived of sleep for a few days we will suffer from permanent phycological damage; if a computer isn't re-started regularly it will crash and lose data. Our brains are carbon-based biological computers, as opposed to man-made silcon-based computers, and both run on electrical impulses!

There are more than half a trillion stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, which is 100,000 light years from one side to the other. The entire Milky Way could fit inside the Universe ten million, million, million times. It is 46 billion light years to the edge of the Universe, but it is expanding all the time.

There is an on-going search for a planet that could sustain life; see: hubblesite.org & deepest cosmic view yet (2012). Earth is in the galaxy known as 'The Milky Way', and it is estimated that there could be as many as 6 billion Jupiter-sized planets in our own galaxy alone. If this is multiplied by the 400 billion galaxies in the Universe you get an estimate of 2,400 billion Jupiter-sized planets, to say nothing of smaller planets like Earth. There must be other Earth-type planets out there somewhere. In 2012, there were five known planets that might be able to host human life, three of which are about 20 light years away; so, humans might be able to reach them one day; see Interstellar travel. However, if there are forms of life on these planets, there will probably also be diseases that we are not immune to. Even on Earth, Europeans brought diseases to North America that Native Americans were not immune to and thus were wiped out in their hundreds, if not thousands. The plans to take humans beyond Earth to the Moon and even Mars are well under way, as Europe and US agree details for Orion astronaut spacecraft.

Whilst on the subject of 'Black Holes'; as far as I can tell, most scientists seem to believe the theory that they are caused by extreme gravity sucking vast quantities of matter into a minute space, which has been described as almost a pinpoint of immense gravity and density. These are speculated to have such extreme gravity that even light cannot escape - hence only a 'black hole' can be seen. This theory seems to be based on the elliptical orbit of the solar systems close to black holes, and the light spectrum caused during their movement. Calculations have been made as to the mass required to cause all of the observed effects. However some scientists, and I suspect that they may be right, theorize that 'black holes' may be formed of 'anti-matter'. At first, this may seem a preposterous view, since we were apparently uncertain whether 'anti-matter' does, or even can, exist. However, recent research at the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) has found fast-moving electrons and their anti-matter counterparts, positrons, and researchers at the Large Hadron Collider have witnessed particles called D-mesons flipping from matter into antimatter and back. So, anti-matter has been proven to exist! When considered logically and if compared with other things in nature like electricity, it seems quite natural that, when 'matter' was formed at the time of 'Big Bang', 'anti-matter' must have been produced as its direct opposite; after all, the theory is that there was nothing there to start with! In the case of electricity, we start with a coil of tightly bound wire surrounded by magnets and, using physical energy to turn such a generator, we create positive and negative electricity, plus heat. When these two opposite forms of electricity come into very close contact, without actually touching, the energy sparks across a gap until the power is so reduced that it can no longer jump the gap. If we connect the two terminals directly to each other all the electrical power is completely drained and gone again - back to nothing - leaving only heat. Is there anything in scientific research to prove that 'anti-matter' does not or cannot exist or that, if it came into close contact with 'matter', it wouldn't have a similar pull to gravity? If so, the scientific observations mentioned above would apply to either scenario. Surely the physical pull of immense gravity could easily be replicated by a vast amount of 'anti-matter', if such a thing was both provable and proven to exist. In the case of a man-made 'black hole' particle created by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which disappeared in a minute period of time, this must have proven that a 'black hole' is formed of anti-matter'? Surely such a particle, if of immense gravity, would have attracted other surrounding particles and eventually triggered a black hole in space where the Earth once was. It would then absorb our sun and its planets plus surrounding solar systems in this part of the Milky Way until too large a gap, between it and the surrounding solar systems, was created for it to have further influence other that eliptical orbiting of nearby solar systems. However, if that minute particle of a 'black hole' was 'anti-matter', a matching particle of 'matter' would also have been produced. The 'anti-matter' would have absorbed a particle of 'matter' of similar size, if not the same particle that was produced by the experiment, and then disappeared - which surely is what actually happed during the tests? The by-product of such particle creation, just like electrical generation and discharge, is heat; maybe this is what triggered the heat in all the stars in the Universe at the time of 'Big Bang'? This is just a layman's logic, but it always possible that the solutions are simpler than scientists try to make them! Either way, if all of the Universe came from nothing, how did it happen and who or what did it? No wonder humans need a faith in something bigger than themselves; perhaps the 'scientists' should all be considering whether they have a point!

If you watch this astoning and very interesting short film, it zooms into distant space where you can see vast numbers of stars like our sun. It gives a good perspective as to just how small we are in the vast cosmos!

There is even a theory that there may be multiple-universes. This is a very interesting book by physicists, the late Professor Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Mlodinow in which they postulate the origin of our Universe, plus the theory of there being multiple universes. Whilst is written in a non-academic format, it does take quite a bit of re-reading in parts to understand various concepts, if your are not well versed in physics. It is an interesting and thought-provoking read, especially the first three chapters, which my wife and I sat discussing in depth for a few evenings, though many will find the theories, to say the least, challenging. (available via Amazon.co.uk)

Our concepts of existence are limited to what our brain can deal with, and what it receives from our various senses. Just because we aren't aware of something, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. For example: we can't see ultra-violet, yet butterflies can; dogs are colour-blind, yet we can see a wide array of colours. Our brains build a model of our existence based on what we are aware of, and not necessarily of actual reality. Just think about that - it makes me wonder if the things that some people supposedly 'see', that the rest of us put down to hallucinations or insanity, actually exist in a form that our senses cannot normally perceive.

Is there another habitable Earth-type planet near enough to us, so that humans could reasonably reach and colonise it in the near future? The search continues using the Kepler telescope: Kepler telescope: Earth-sized planets 'number 17bn'. But what would we do if we found one: exploit it for minerals; polute it with industrial activity; ruin it like our own planet; bring back previously unknown diseases; or just start again with a clear conscience as to our effect on other species and our new home-planet? Have we really learnt anything about the value of creation?

The nearest habitable, Earth-sized planet could be just 13 light-years away. See: Exoplanets near red dwarfs.

It is now being theorised that comets may bring water and possibly life as well to the plates in the Universe, thus increasing the likelihood of other life 'out there'. Comets may bring water and life to planets?

Brian Cox, the brilliant and very popular Professor of Physics, presents The Wonders Collection - Special Edition a boxed DVD set, covering our 'Universe', 'Solar System' & 3 one-hour-long 'Horizon' TV programmes about 'Astronomy'. This is a fantastic series and a real treasure to own and watch over and over again if you are interested in the Universe and Life on Earth. (available via Amazon.co.uk) It is apparent that all life on Earth has evolved from the same early life form; so, we are distant cousins of all living things - it reminds me of the brilliant science fiction film 'Avatar'. This film portrays a planet where 'mother earth' actually exists as something linking all life on the planet; this may seem unbelievable but is not so far removed from reality on our Earth where scientists have discovered that plants can apparently communicate with each other.

Earth - The Power of The Planet is a brilliant overview of the creation of our Earth.
The complete BBC Series compared by Iain Stewart is available on DVD. (available via Amazon.co.uk)

                                                                                    Photo taken by Chris Drakes in February 2012

The spring Moon at night

Our Solar System was a nebula, a massive cloud of dust and gas, 5 billion years ago; the Sun being formed in the centre about 4.6 billion years ago. Nobody yet knows how the planets actually formed. The current theory is that our Earth was formed about 4.5 billion years ago by the collision of several large asteroids that had been created during the 'Big Bang'. One theory is that the Earth was in a similar orbit round the sun to another planet, now referred to as 'Theia', and that these two planets collided and exchanged vast amounts of material with each other. The Earth retained the bulk of the matter, especially more of the iron core and thus more gravity from the two planets, before separating again; the resulting smaller planet became our Moon, which is a quarter the diameter of Earth and only 1/81 of Earth's mass; see: Giant Impact Hypothesis & Nature Geoscience. The Earth is about 8,000 in diameter. It is also believed that comets collided with Earth bringing water in the form of ice and viruses that may have helped to trigger life on Earth. About 3.8 billion years ago, as our planet cooled and the oceans were created, as the first form of life on earth, bacteria caused oxygen to form, which in turn slowly created the atmosphere that now supports all life on Earth. It was just a matter of time before multi-celled life appeared, gradually evolving into sea creatures, then land animals and eventually the first humans. The latest theory is that the Earth collided with something much faster moving and much bigger than the 'Theia' theory above; see: Moon formation & Moon's violent birth. Meteorites continue to hit the Earth, but most of them burn up in the atmosphere and have little apparent effect on us. However, it is estimated that at least 40,000 tons of material, mainly as dust, are added to the weight of the Earth from space every year, and that we are still in danger of an extinction event from a large ateroid. The asteroid strike that caused the extinction of most of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs, was one of many since the creation of the Earth, and other giant asteroids will head our way again in the future. A great deal of time and money is being spent on trying to find these, with a view to intercepting them and either destroying them or, more likely, diverting them away from Earth. The most likely way will be to spray one side of the asteriod white so that the heat of the sun will, hopefully, alter its course. There are now two theories as to how the planets formed from the dust and gas: The Mass Transfer Theory, where particles crash into each other; The Pelton Theory, where gases restrict movement of dust particles that are closest and cause particles further away to push into the back of them forming larger and larger clumps that eventually gain enough gravity to attract more particles. In December 2013, we may get the answer to some of these questions, when scientists will be studying Comet Ison as it passes close to our Sun. The gases coming off Comet Ison may tell scientists the temperature at which the comet formed; this could help them to work at what temperatures and thus where the planets in our solar system were formed. They may also help us to understand where the water on our planet came from, as it may well have come from comets, as the Earth was formed at too hot a temperature to have had water as it cooled. sadly Comet Ison has not lived up to expectations, but there is still some hope that data may be gleaned from surviving fragments.

Earth from space by NASA

Moon over Norfolk in September 2013 & Suffolk in June 2020, both by Chris Drakes

Scientists now believe that dinosaurs became extinct about 66 million years ago as the result of an impact by a comet or asteroid in the Caribbean Sea near Yucatan, Mexico. About 1 million years after this extinction event a species of mammal evolved that is the ancestor of all 5,000 plus placental mammals, including everything from bats to human and whales, that are alive today.  However, the DNA evidence implies that our early rodent-type ancestors were living alongside dinosaurs about 100 million years ago. At 55 million years old Archicebus, an ancient type of primate, is the earlist known member of the broad group of animals that includes humans; it has recently (2013) been discovered in China.

There were several early species of upright-walking apes some of which evolved into Homo Sapiens (modern man). Homo Sapiens are thought to have first appeared on Earth in Africa between 170,000 and 150,000 years ago. The first group of Homo Sapiens lived in the area of The Great Rift Valley in present-day Northern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia, and migrated from there into the rest of Africa. From about 100,000 years ago they travelled east across to Arabia, India, the Middle East, and eventually to the far corners of the world. Travel was easier for them then, as sea levels were much lower. We apparently did not evolve from the earlier forms of 'man' whose remains have been found outside of Africa prior to this time; they are believed to be different sub-species of our shared ancient ancestor Homo Erectus and not our direct-line ancestors - the theory is that we did not evolve from Neanderthals - though you may meet a few people who appear to defy this! This being said, there is still a great deal of debate over the accuracy of the 'Out of Africa Theory'. Recent and important DNA research has implied that our ancestors did inter-breed with the Neanderthals, and that we inherited some of our immunity from them, including some auto-immune diseases! See mathildasanthropologyblog for an interesting down-to-earth approach to the on-going debate.

There is now growing evidence that there were more 'human' species in the Great Rift Valley region, of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, two million years ago than was previously thought; see; Many human 'prototypes' coexisted in Africa. DNA research evidence is currently suggesting that there were very early humanoid species in South Africa and Indonesia (where a species has been found that is more 'human' than 'Lucy' from the Great Rift Valley in East Africa). These early species may have interbred with the species that eventually became the 'modern human', as has recently been indicated to possibly be the case with European Neaderthals. However, as with all scientific theories, this has now been challenged; new theories suggest that the DNA we share with Neanderthals comes from the time when we had a common ancestor; see neanderthal breeding doubted. As long as we only have results with small percentages of overall Neanderthal DNA we can't be 100% certain that there was inter-breeding, rather than DNA lingering from a former shared 'common ancestor'. The best 'evidential proof' we could hope for would be to find an individual with either Y-DNA (direct male-male ancient line) or MtDNA (direct female-female ancient line) Neanderthal-DNA results; this would be absolute proof, since this could not occur without inter-breeding between the two species. It has been discovered that Neaderthals also suffered from cancer 120,000 years ago, which is till common in modern humans. It is believed that various auto-immune diseases in moden humans were brought about by inter-breading with Neanderthals. Recent research has shown that an allergy to wheat & gluten (Coeliac Disease) can cause many symptoms (e.g.: IBS, inflamed stomach, internal bleeding, Asthma, bone pain, Axonal Polyneuropathy, Eczema, bowel cancer, and probably many more!), which had been missed as it was thought to always affect just the digestive tract, but is now know to be not necessarily so. Many people with this allergy also have an allergy to dairy foods, which might make sense if their ancestors were predominantly hunter-gatherers and not farmers. About 2012, I was informed by a senior member of AllergyUK that 50% of the UK population currently suffer from allergies and that the percentage is expected to almost double in coming decades. Sadly, many people seem to be self-diagnosed and some of them have been on unnecessary medication for years as a result. The following are interesting articles published by BBC News: early hunter-gatherer skin colour; effects on the health of modern populations of our ancestors breeding with Neanderthals. Modern humans may owe our ability to fight disease from breeding with Neanderthals and Denisovians.

The latest theory is that there was only one early human species two million years ago, and not several as previously thought. However, as with most 'theories' this is hotly disputed by other researchers. For further details, please see, Earliest humans in Eurasia and Africa were same species

The first 'humans' to live in the land that later became the British Isles were here over 800,000 years, possibly as much as a million years, ago. These were an early species of man, who had evolved long before Homo Sapiens; they also made and used flint tools. The onset of the last Ice Age removed all 'human' and animal residents from these lands, though some appear to have visited here during the various periods of slightly warmer weather, and were probably following migrating animals in order to hunt them.

The interesting BBC series 'Walking with Cavemen' (2003) covers the evolution of mankind, from the first bi-pedal apes, and the effects of climate change on their migration, in an easily-received non-academic format. (available via Amazon.co.uk)

Slight mutations in our genes, caused by environmental issues such as temperature, water, and food over thousands of years, have created the various races around the world, leaving us a DNA trail in local populations with which we can calculate their migratory routes. As a general rule, the taller and thinner a race the nearer to the equator (evolved to lose heat); the shorter and stockier the race the further from the equator (evolved to retain heat). The same applies to skin colour, with equatorial races usually being darker skinned.

The world was a very different place during the peak of the last Ice-Age, when there was a 120-metre drop in sea-level, caused by over 2 miles thickness of ice being locked up on land, including as far down as the Midlands of Britain and much of northern Europe. Britain then was linked to the continent of Europe by a greater area of land than presently makes up the UK; this land is now under the North Sea. We are currently nearing the end of the last Ice Age and sea-levels are gradually returning to their maximum; just as they have done many times in the past at the end of each of the seven major Ice Ages. There is archaeological evidence (uniquely-designed flint arrowheads) that Stone-Age men crossed the Atlantic from France to the area now known as New York, during the peak of this last Ice-Age probably living off seals and fish on the edge of the ice cap as they crossed, rather like the Eskimos have done for centuries. There have been mini ice-ages in between the major ones; the last being in the 18th & early 19th centuries - just look at the old paintings of frozen rivers with ice-skaters on them and you will see some of the evidence.

DNA from a 40,000-year-old leg bone found in a cave near Beijing shows links to modern Chinese and Native Americans.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

This book briefly describes the evolution of humans, our religions, our organisations, and our politics, better than I have ever seen before. I feel that it is a real 'must have' book for every home if you are interested in how we evolved and why we believe what we believe in almost every aspect of our lives. (available via Amazon.co.uk)

It is interesting that Neanderthals, who were a parallel hominid species to ours and who interbred with our direct ancestors, according to recently-discovered DNA evidence, were well adapted to the cold northern climates and probably became extinct as a separate species due to natural global warming, competition for food with modern men Homo Sapiens, and an inability to become hunter-gatherers. Yet modern men, who are well adapted for warm climates but not for severe cold, have learned to survive in the coldest of climates that the earth can offer. The Antarctic Winter today can reach as low as minus 90 degrees centigrade. Our technological abilities, including equipment, clothes and food supplies, have made all parts of the world accessible to us, and even out into space. Voyager-One satellite from the 1970s has just reached interstellar space and is about to leave the magnetic field of our sun. The world has never seen a species like us, but the theory is that even we will one day become extinct.

If you are interested in an introduction to human evolution, the following is a brilliant website: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

“Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural and organic and in tune with mysterious cycles of the cosmos, which believes that there’s nothing like millions of years of really frustrating trial and error to give a species moral fiber and, in some cases, backbone.” Terry Pratchett (a realist and a clever man, who is missed by many). You don't have to accept everything someone says to appreciate their tallents.

photo Chris Drakes March 2014

The centre of the late Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments at Stonehenge, near Shrewton, Wiltshire, which has been dated to between 3,000 BC & 2,000 BC.

photo Chris Drakes March 2014

Silbury Hill, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, is an immense late Neolithic man-made mound built between 2,400 & 2,300 BC. It is similar is height, size and aged to the Egyptian pyramids. It was this hill that was excavated by Edward Drax in 1776 on behalf of the Duke of Northumberland.

It was me, as part of my family history research, who found the references to the letters between Edward Drax and The Duke of Northumberland in the National Archives Index, which later, via Brian Edwards, led to English Heritage obtaining copies of these letters and discovering details of his excavation and discoveries inside Silbury Hill, which had previously been though to be lost. Family history research can have 'spin offs' of National Interest.

photo Chris Drakes March 2014

Part of the Neolithic & Bronze Age Henge Monuments at Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, which have been dated to between 3,400 & 2,300 BC. Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe.

photo Alexandra Drakes March 2014

The Springtime evening sun through the stones at Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, c3,400 & 2,300 BC.

photo Chris Drakes March 2014

The circular ditch around the Neolithic & Bronze Age Henge Monuments at Avebury, near Marlborough, Wiltshire.

As far as our tribal origins in present-day Britain are concerned, our earliest races came overland from Europe. The peoples of Great Britain are a mixture of many races, and our gene-pool is still being added to on a daily basis. Post Ice-Age occupation of Britain was made by man during the Stone-Age about 15,000BC to 10,000BC as the glacial-maximum ice sheet retreated northwards. These peoples had originally come from the east about 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, and are known as the Cro-Magnons; my own direct male-line ancestors belong to this group. They lived alongside the Neanderthals in the Basque & Solutre regions between France and Spain, where many of their Stone-Age cave paintings have since been found. Another group of humans with farming skills followed from the Near East about 15,000 years ago, and mixed with the original groups; they did not replace them. It is interesting to note that domestic dogs, man's best friend, evolved from wolves about 15,000 years ago in the Near East, and that all domestic dogs are anciently descended on their female side from one of three dogs; they apparently came west with the human farmers. As the Ice Sheet retreated it exposed a vast land-bridge between France and Britain, though rising sea levels eventually made Britain an island about 8,000 years ago and isolated the population here from mainland Europe. More land was lost to the rising seas around Britain's coasts than now remains above water on these islands. The area of sea that makes Britain an island, separated from Europe, is only about 30 metres deep. Since sea levels rose, various peoples have come here across the seas, often driven from Europe by invading peoples or political changes in their own homelands, and have thus contributed to our gene-pool. Britain eventually became a patchwork of tribal kingdoms, mainly occupied by peoples known as 'the Celts', who began migrating from their homelands in the Upper Rhine and Upper Danube, about 500BC; they settle in France, Spain, Northern Italy and the British Isles. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Celtic settlement of Britain occurred in three main phases: 1) Hallstatt Culture settled about 500-450BC mainly in the southeast and east up to the Yorkshire coast (they brought 'iron age' weapons here, and migrated west to Wales and the West Country over the next 200 years); 2) La Tène settled in the southeast about 250BC (they introduced the light two-horse chariot); Belgae (Belgic Peoples) settled in southern Britain (mainly Hampshire & Berkshire) about 100BC (they were bitter enemies of the Germans & Roman Empire from whom they fled in France). Warfare between the tribes was endemic and ranged from minor cattle-raids to all-out wars between neighbouring kingdoms. The first Romans landed here in 55BC & 54BC, both of these were only 'raids, though they had conquered the king of South Britain and received tributes from him. This was the time of The Druids, and tribes like the Iceni [see list of the other British tribes below]. In 43AD the real invasion and conquest of Britain began and we became part of the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers represented the peoples of all the countries that they had previously conquered; so, some were Gauls, Spanish, Near Eastern, North African, etc., but proportionately few are believed to have been actually born in Rome. Many of the veteran Roman soldiers retired to Rome or their original tribal homelands, but a vast number stayed here with their families and further added to the British gene-pool. The Romans eventually left Britain in 410AD, after 367 years of occupation, leaving a 'power-void' that was too tempting to our European neighbours. Then came the 'Anglo-Saxons', who ruled Britain from the 5th century AD until the Norman Conquest of 1066. Bede identified them as the descendants of three Germanic tribes: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, from the Jutland peninsula and Lower Saxony. The Angles may have come from Angeln, and Bede wrote that their nation came to Britain, leaving their land empty; in other words, this was an entire-population migration to new lands, not just an invasion by a few thousand. They spoke closely related Germanic dialects. The Anglo-Saxons knew themselves as the “Englisc,” from which the word “English” derives. Unlike the Anglo-Saxons, who came over en-mass, the Norman invaders were few and became the ruling classes over the indigenous Anglo-Saxon & Viking populations. Since 1066, numerous groups of immigrants have arrived on these shores and have gradually melded into the modern 'British' population and its gene-pool, only to be changed again by the next influx. How can we 'British' be anything but mixed-race? We can only resort to modern DNA technology to find out what combination of races makes each one of us today. It is interesting to note that you need a minimum of 30% to 35% of your DNA from a particular ethnic group to show any obvious physical features of that race; so, until you get your own DNA checked, you cannot justifiably claim to be of any pure racial origin, no matter what you look like today! DNA research is explained further on the [DNA pages].

In my humble opinion, the best book by far that is currently available on this subject is Britain Begins, by Barry Cunliffe. It was first published by Oxford University Press in 2012 (paperback 2013, which I recently purchased from Amazon.co.uk at only £13.40, post free). This brilliant book covers just about every aspect of the development of ancient Britain, both of its population and its formation as a group of islands on the European continental shelf. Barry Cunliffe even covers the various ice ages and interglacial periods and how these work; leaving the reader to imagine where our future climate is going! It is written by an academic in a very readable format; at present, I just can't put it down as I am reading through its 553 pages. It is an enthralling read and even covers the historical sources that show our progress in understanding human evolution. This is a real must-have for every British bookshelf.

Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe

The Union Flag of Great Britain                       The English flag of Saint George

The Scottish flag of Saint Andrew                          The Irish flag of Saint Patrick

These last three flags were combined to form the Union Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (UK) on 1st May 1707.

If you have Irish or Scottish ancestors it may help to remember that Britain used some Scottish troops in India, some Irish troops in Spain (against Napoleon); also, British troops were at War in North American during the 18th & 19th centuries, and in Africa during the 19th century. There is good evidence to support the fact that troops often brought back wives with ethnic bloodlines, e.g. Ireland is noted for having a considerable amount of Spanish and Moorish-Arab blood in the population's DNA since the early 1800s. See the DNA pages.

See the following hyperlinks for the Ethnic Groups of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, of the World, and anticipated for the Future.

The flag of Lincolnshire created in 2005

The area now known as Lincolnshire is believed to have been first settled by the Iberians, then the Welsh, then the Belgians. In AD70, when the Romans conquered the area, it was mainly inhabited by the Coritani, who are believed to have been part of the Iceni tribe. After the Romans left it was occupied by the various tribes who were to become the 'English', including Saxons, Jutes, Frisians, Warings, Danes, Bructuars, Burgundians, and Vandals. It became part of the 'Danelaw' (Danelagh) and later 'The Five Boroughs'.

Fancy a bit Lincolnshire Music with a touch of fun (even naked men on the U-Tube extract below!) & some sadness in it, then you won't find better than the CD Beyond The Bridge by The Ruffs at £9.99. This CD contains a very amusing song, entitled 'Inbred and Proud', and a very poignant song, entitled 'The band played waltzing Matilda', which is about the Anzacs at Gallipoli; each of which is worth the cost of the CD on its own. I met them at The Wragby Show & Country Fayre, Lincolnshire on Sunday 2nd September 2012. These guys are great fun and started their singing career at the Golden Cross pub, Billinghay, Lincolnshire. They donate a percentage of their fees and CD sales to charity and can be booked for public and private events of any size; they have event been to the USA for a booking, all expenses paid! Please see their website: The Ruffs.

Many British believe that the follow should be our National Anthem:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.

I Vow To Thee My Country by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice

The Standards of the Dukes of Normandy & the Plantagenet Kings of England from Henry II

The three lions passant gardant were first used on the seal of the King of England in May 1198 by Richard I, Coeur-de-Lion, the Lion-Heart (1157-1199); he was the son and eventual heir of Henry II (1133-1189).

The Royal Standard of Queen Elizabeth II

The Red Dragon of Wales                                     Saint Piran of Cornwall

For these and other flags of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, please see: British Flags

The following is another very popular and iconic British song:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Jerusalem by William Blake (1757-1827)

The origin of the English language

Modern Indo-European languages, of which English is one example, were once thought to have originated in south-west Russia about 5,000 years ago; a new theory, based on recent research, concludes that this group of languages originated in Turkey about 9,000 years ago. This is inkeeping with other theories about farming, as opposed to hunter-gatherer, lifestyles coming from the same region. To read more about this research, please see English language 'originated in Turkey' about 9,000 years ago.

English is a West Germanic language that originated from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain in the mid 5th to 7th centuries AD by Germanic invaders and settlers from what is now northwest Germany (Anglo-Saxons), west Denmark and the Netherlands (Viking), displacing the Celtic languages that previously predominated. See the following link: History of English. There are also many English words with Mediaeval Norman-French & Latin origins. The English language is still being influenced by United States films & television (my own granddaughter calls the 'sweets', of my childhood, 'candy', due to the USA produced media she sees), plus the on-going influences of worldwide immigration & communication.

British Peoples

                                                                                                     photo taken by Chris Drakes in March 2012

Boudica, Queen of the Iceni - statue on Victoria Embankment by Westminster Bridge, London

The Celtic Tribes of the Britain Isles: Ancalites (Hants. and Wilts.); Attacotti (Scotland or Ireland); Atrebates (Hants. & Berks.); Autini (Ireland); Belgae (Wilts. & Hants.; may have been Germanic); Bibroci (Berks.); Brigantes (most of northern England) and in (Ireland); Burnett (Scotland); Caereni (Sutherland?); Caledonii (Great Glen); Cantiaci (Kent); Carnonacae (Western Highlands of Scotland); Carvetii (Cumberland); Cassi (England); Cateni (north and west Sutherland); Catuvellauni (Herts.); Cauci (Ireland); Corieltauvi (Leics.); Coriondi (Ireland); Corionototae (Northumberland); Cornavii (Caithness); Cornovii (Midlands); Cornovii (Cornwall); Creones (Argyll); Damnonii (Strathclyde); Darini (Ireland); Deceangli (Flints.); Decantae (Easter Ross?); Demetae (Dyfed); Dobunni (Gloucs. & north Somerset); Dumnonii (Cornwall, Devon and west Somerset); Durotriges (Dorset & south Somerset); Eblani (Ireland); Epidii (Kintyre); Gangani (Ireland); Gangani (Llyn Peninsula); Herpeditani (Ireland); Horestiani (Fife, Scotland); Iberni (Ireland); Iceni (East Anglia); Lugi (southern Sutherland); Magnate (Ireland); Manapii (Ireland); Novantae (Galloway); Ordovices (Gwynedd); Parisii (East Riding Yorks.); Regini (Sussex); Robogdii (Ireland); Segontiaci (England); Selgovae (upper Tweed basin); Setantii (Lancs.); Silures (Gwent); Smertae (Central Sutherland?); Taexali (Grampian); Trinovantes (Essex); Vacomagi (Cairngorms); Velabri (Ireland); Venicones (Fife, Tayside); Vennicnii (Ireland); Vodie (Ireland); Votadini (Lothian). There are other tribal names and different spellings that have been used by historians in recent history; since most of these peoples left no written record, we must reply on other sources, such as Roman records. We must also remember that the Celtics were not the original occupiers of Britain and there will undoubtedly be traces of other earlier tribes in our collective DNA.

A glimpse of British life over 2,000 years ago during the Iron Age, as reconstructed at Butser Ancient Farm near Portsmouth, Hampshire.

Experimental archaeology in action. This is an incredible site and is well worth visiting; it even has a reconstructed Roman Villa. The object being to experiment with, and thus test, theories about actual Iron Age life and building construction. Since our knowledge of Iron Age life is based on surviving archaeological remains, we are left with theories to interpret much of what human existence was actually like; this site tests those theories and improves on our perception of life in the UK 2,000 years ago.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

The large 'Iron Age' roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants., is 50 feet in diameter. The purpose of a similar building on an archaeological site elsewhere has yet to be determined, but it may have been a community meeting house, or the home of their leader. The farm would have also had several smaller roundhouses, one for each family unit, plus a variety of smaller outbuildings for specific purposes, such as a grain-store.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

Iron Age farmers relied heavily on horses, hence the horse skulls on the door posts at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants. The interior would have been very smokey, with a central open fire, as in this photo; the smoke prevented insect infestation and preserved the timbers and thatch for much longer.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

A smaller 'Iron Age' roundhouse at Butser Farm, Hants., which would have been home to an Iron Age family. Roundhouses like these may well have lasted for 20 years. They would have relied heavily on their sheep for wool and meat, hence the sheep's skull above the doorway. There was no chimney or vent in the roof, so the interior would have been very smokey, as in this photo.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

A smaller 'Iron Age' roundhouse & store at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants. The roundhouse (on the left) is especially interesting in that it was built with wooden planks for walls instead of wattle and daub; an example of this style of construction has been found on an archaeological dig elsewhere. Note the small coracle-type boat being kept dry outside under the eaves, which would have been used for river fishing and river crossings, perhaps whilst hunting or visiting other nearby settlements (see close-up below).

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

The small coracle-type boat, at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants., was made in a similar fashion to weaving walls, fences and baskets; it was then covered in animal skin which became very hard when dried (just visit a pet shop and see how hard hide dog-chews are). The outside was probably greased with animal fat to improve its waterproofing. This sheep's skull is mounted on the thatch centrally above the doorway, as on another roundhouse here (see photos above).

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

The interior of the newer wooden-plank roundhouse at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants., showing how possessions would have been stored around the walls and the people would have sat and slept around the central fire. This view of the roof shows how it was sealed inside; the smoke could only escape by seeping through the thatched roof, keeping it free of insect and fungal infestation.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

The 'Iron Age' farm with traditional fencing at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants., to keep valuable livestock safe from predators and wandering off.

photos taken by Chris Drakes in July 2012

An incredible four-horned Manx Loaghtan sheep at Butser Ancient Farm, Hants.; though from the Isle of Man, these are generally regarded as 'Iron Age sheep'.

Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton Lane, Chalton, Hampshire PO8 0BG, (tel: 023 9259 8838), is just east of the A3, about 10 miles north of Portsmouth, Hants. It is only 500 yards off the A3, to a 300 yards long farm track at the end of which is a free car/coach park. You can find an aerial view of the farm by searching for 'Butser Ancient Farm' on GoogleEarth; it is at map reference: 50 56'35.48" N 0 58'36.12" W. If you don't already have 'Google Earth', there is a free download at: Google Earth. Though Butser Ancient Farm is a small site, it is special and is well worth a visit. Admission fees, and items for sale in the small shop, are very reasonably priced for a family visit. Please make the effort to visit if you are in the are, as it is very interesting and they need your support. For more information about Butser Ancient Farm, please see their website: butserancientfarm.co.uk

A glimpse of Anglo-Saxon life in Britain about 1,500 years ago, as reconstructed at West Stow, Icklingham Road, West Stow, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP28 6HG.

Experimental buildings based on archaelological excavations. This is a very interesting site with periodic re-enactment events. There is a brilliant museum on site displaying numerous archaeological finds, which is well worth visiting by people of all ages. There is ample car parking, cafe (with lots of gluten-free cakes), walks, a lake, a bird-watching hide, a pig-pen & an excellent children's playground adjacent to the car park & entrance. See West Stow Country Park & Anglo-Saxon Village.

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

The reconstructed houses are based on the archaelogical footprint of a village. Various theories about what the houses would have looked like above ground, and how they might have been constructed, have been experimented with, resulting in a very convincing Anglo-Saxon village.

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

photo taken by Chris Drakes in November 2017

Just how long ago was all this?

There are 13 generations in the medieval Drax tree 'A' between 1126 and 1497, which is an average of 28.54 years per generation; 13 & 14 generations in trees 'B' & 'J' between 1600 and 2000, which is 30.77 & 28.57 years per generation; and 9 & 10 generations in tree 'D' & 'L' 1700-2000, which is 33.33 & 30.00 years per generation, giving an overall average of 30.24 years per generation.

Using this average, though it may not be very accurate during earlier millennia, it is only:

360 years, which would be about 11 generations, to the English Civil War
856 years, which would be about 28 generations, to Henry II & Geoffrey Drax's arrival in England in 1154
944 years, which would be about 31 generations, to the Norman Invasion of Britain at The Battle of Hastings in 1066
1,000 years, which would be about 33 generations, to the days of the Saxon Ethelred the Unready and the Viking Canute who ruled Britain
1,700 to 1,800 years, which would be about 56 to 60 generations, to the beginning of Christianity in Britain
1,966 years, which would be about 65 generations, to the Roman Invasion of Britain
3,000 years, which would be about 99 generations, to the Bronze Age in Britain
4,000 years, which would be about 132 generations to the first permanent settlements in the British Isles by former hunter-gatherers
12,000 to 15,000 years, which would be about 396 to 495 generations, to the early years of occupation of the British Isles by homo sapiens as mobile hunter-gatherers
40-50,000 years, which would be about 1,320 to 1,650 generations, to the first homo sapiens in Europe the Cro-Magnons who painted hunting scenes in the caves of southern France and northern Spain, who are my direct-line male ancestors (my Y-DNA)
100,000 years, which would be about 3,300 generations, to the approximate migration of the first homo sapiens out of Africa
170,000 years, which would be about 5,610 generations, to the first homo sapiens in Africa

It has been calculated that we would only have to go back 100 generations, about 3,000 years, to find a common ancestor that all humans beings alive today share, and that in another 3,000 years someone alive today will be that common ancestor. This includes peoples in isolated communities around the world; so, we are just one big family. If you are interested in reading more about this, please see Tracing the world's ancestor. Thinking about this timescale, it occurred to me that I knew my family from my grandparents to my grandchild and this, being five generations, is 1/20th of 100 generations - it is not as distant as it at first appears!

According to the World Bank, the UK population was about 62,641,000 in 2012. The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that the UK population was 64.1 million in June 2013. There were 56.1 million people in England & Wales during the 2011 Census, a 7% increase since 2001, and 9.2 million of these were over 65 years old. Those who have no religious affiliation increased from 15% (7.7 million) to 25% (14.1 million). Over 13% were born outside the UK, an increase of nearly 3 million (about 100%) since 2001, and the most common birthplaces outside the UK were India, Poland & Pakistan. I suspect that very few UK residents have no non-UK DNA at all, since we have received immigrants from around the world for millennia and, if we go back 15,000 years, there was no-one in the UK at all, as it was covered in thick ice! Maybe the original British were penguins, now that would be something to find in your DNA!

The International Programs Center, U.S. Census Bureau estimated the world population on 4th April 2020 as being 7,640,976,500, and that it will increase by about 76 million every year. See World Population Clock Projection. There are over 7.5 billion people on earth, which is approximately only 1 living person for every 2 years since the 'Big Bang' that created the Universe - numbers like these sort of put us humans 'in perspective'.

Given these vast numbers it seems almost inconceivable that in May 2013 there were about 6.8 billion mobile phone subscriptions on Earth, and that there are soon to be more mobile phones accounts than there are people on Earth. With people still starving, and dying from lack of clean water, this is technology gone mad.

Where will our population growth lead and just how many humans will inhabit this small planet in the forseeable future? See Can we be sure the world's population will stop rising? for a conjectural view of the prospects. There is recent research that suggests that plastic waste sinking to the ocean floor becomes a slime that is acting as a hormone causing seaa life to become hermaphrodite and thus sterile; if this continues into the food-chain that feeds us, plastic may one day cause the extinction of the human species, as well as many other species. Plastic polution in lakes as well as oceans. We are even using minute plastic particles called microbeads in some brands of toothpaste and many other household products that are too small to be filtered out by the water authorities! Maybe our use of plastic in every part of our daily lives will, one day, bring about our eventual extinction?

We humans have had a considerable effect on our small planet, so much so that we will leave behind our own geological period for future species to discover in millions of years; see: Leaving our mark - part 1: What will be left of our cities?& part 2: fossils of the future.

Remember that we all share 99.9% of our DNA; it is that 1/10 of 1% that makes us different.

We may have all come on different ships but we’re in the same boat now.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.' John 15:12, NRSV Bible.

One thing is certain about every single human being on the planet who came before us: every one of our ancestors survived the problems associated with being born, childhood diseases, accidents, the plague, human sacrifice, tribal raids, wars, infertility, and genetic problems, to reach sexually mature adulthood and produce at least one surviving child, who did the same. That alone makes every one of us very special.

All the known races of the world have been genetically proven by DNA tests to be related to the same single male and single female ancestor on their direct male-to-male and direct female-to-female lines.

It's so sad that we don't always get on with each other, and often don't care enough to even save our own generation's children from starvation (just try a Google search for 'famine in Africa 2017' & 'Pakistan flood disaster'). A shocking 4,000 children die every day just from lack of clean water; see: wateraid.org. Other unborn female children are being 'terminated' by their own parents and some are kidnapped and sold into slavery: The girls stolen from the streets of India. Remember, all children in this world are 'our' children, for we all share the same ancestry.

It is astonishing that we can attempt to create life, when we can't even care for those human beings that already exist. It is astonishing that we are creating machines and robots that we can interact with, when we can't even interact in peace with each other. It is astonishing that we spend so much of our time, energy and knowledge trying to find other worlds, when we can even look after the one we've already got. An alien meeting us for the first time, might well ask in total astonishment, "What sort of beings are you!" Maybe 'someone out there' can teach us to appreciate what we already have before it's too late. It is believed that 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct, and our time may not be far off. What will we be leaving behind after the 'Time of Mankind'? The Earth and some of its species will undoubtedly continue long after we are gone.

In 2013, they were even working on printing living cells to make meat for us to eat, without killing animals, & human body parts for human repair-surgery. This type of food production might, one day, be the food source for our species to travel vast distances through space in search of a new home for our species. This is all sounding like the food replicant units in the space series Star Trek! If this line of research progresses, how long before we are printing a workforce of 'humans'?

In 2013, US government CO2 readings on Hawaii were above 400 parts per million (in 2017, they were above 410 parts per million) for the first time since 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 years ago, which will cause increased temperatures around the World. This was before modern humans had evolved; so, we humans will be out of our 'comfort zone' for the first time ever. However, there are also reports that one large volcanic eruption produces more CO2 that human activities have produced since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

In early 2020, the world was hit by a Corona Virus (Covid-19) pandemic; just over a million had died by October 2020, when the world was facing the possibility of further outbreaks. It started just over 100 years since The Spanish Flu Pandemic in 1918 that possibly killed more people worldwide, 'anywhere from 17 million to 50 million, and possibly as high as 100 million', towards the end of World War I when 'about 15-20 million' died & was followed soon after by World War II, when an 'estimated as 70 million to 85 million' died.

On Sunday 13 April 2036 Apophis, a 300-metre-wide asteroid, might strike the Earth with an impact more than 100 times the strength of the largest nuclear bomb: see Apophis. There are more than 9,000 near-Earth asteroids, and about 800 more are discovered each year. One day, one of them will hit the Earth and, if it is big enough, it may destroy humankind forever. A vast Gamma-ray burst apparently hit the Earth about 774 to 775 AD and it might destroy our ozone layer if it happened again.

Scientists have discovered what our Solar System might become in a few billion years from now after our Sun has expanded to consume the inner planets, and our 'Mother Earth' will be no more. If humans survive, we will have evolved and will have find another planet close with suitable conditions, close to another star, though it is far more likely that we will be extinct before then.