Salvete! (Greetings!) Lord Horatio here. Quantum tempis (long time no see). Having just returned from furthest reaches of the Roman Empire I am, like many in the not very United Kingdom, suffering somewhat from an identity crisis.
While strolling along Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland I was astonished to discover the ruined ramparts were manned for the best part of 300 years. By my reckoning, on the old “four score years and ten” scale that adds up to at least three lifetimes! more details here.
While the top brass were Roman, the troops fraternising with the locals came from Belgium, Spain and Romania. When you throw in rampaging hordes of Picts and Scots from the north, it makes for a pretty big ripple in the national gene pool.
Hadrian gave the imperial thumbs up to the 80 mile wall, stretching from sea to sea across the Tyne-Solway isthmus, when he arrived in Britain in AD122. It took six years hard graft. He felt subduing the barbarians further north just wasn’t worth the candle.
Whilst following in the footsteps of Legionnaires from Housesteads Fort near Corbridge to Steel Rigg my mind turned to the other invasions that have shaped our nation. The Scandinavians ran the show for a while before the French came over from Normandy.
Undoubtedly history shows we are a mongrel race. On my return from northern climes my thoughts on the subject of migration were further stimulated by a close friend, who had just had the results of a special test to reveal where his forebears came from.
Apparently an organisation called AncestryDNA were able to show he was 52% British, 28% Scandinavian, 10% Greco/Italian and 10% other from a small sample of saliva. They are now helping him link up with others who share the same lineage.
Not only have I resolved to take the test myself, I am trying to persuade Lady Winifred to do the same. Being able to look back 1,000 years with a high degree of certainty should put the current “who do we think we are?” debate about nationality into perspective.
Indeed one answer might be to spend part of our year in the countries we originate from. For instance my friend could live in Britain for 52% of the time, Scandinavia for 28%, Greece or Italy for 10% and choose another country for the remainder.
Considering we all originate from Africa 200,000 years ago that continent could also figure in our travel plans. Such a solution would mix things up nicely, dispel irrational fears about foreigners, spread innovation and boost economies around the globe.
Naturally my curiosity also extends to the ancestry of Whimsy the dog. Fortunately samples of saliva are never in short supply when it comes to my faithful companion. Unfortunately he regards every attempt to get it into a container as a chewing game. So far seven plastic test tubes have gone for a Burton! Nil desperandum (don’t despair), as Julius Caesar is reputed to have said – Veni Vidi Vici (I came, I saw, I conquered).
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