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BRITARCH  July 2006

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Subject:

Britain 'had apartheid society'

From:

Catherine Petts <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

British archaeology discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 21 Jul 2006 22:55:23 +0100

Content-Type:

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There are a number of points that puzzle me about the 'apartheid' theory, 
the first is, that, if in the Anglo-Saxons we have a 'politically and 
militarily dominant ethnic group that is known or can be assumed to have had 
a substantial social and economic advantage' (I quote the original article), 
why does the language of this group so quickly permeate down to the minutest 
detail of placenames in the landscape?  This certainly does not happen 
following the Norman Conquest. If we look at South Africa, no European 
worked the land as a labourer, nor in domestic service, or any other job 
considered menial so it is unlikely that there would have been many ASs 
actually tilling the soil. If one accepts that there was no mass 
extermination, then the existing population would be kept in place to farm 
the land  and otherwise serve the dominant group. In Berkshire where place 
names containing 'wealh', generally understood to refer to the pre-AS 
population, cluster along the valleys of the Thames and Kennet, on arguably 
some of the best land in the area which would tend to support this view. 
Interestingly one of them is Wallingford, a key crossing place on the 
Thames, important enough as a crossing to later became one of Alfreds burhs 
and to be used by William I as he marched from Hastings to encircle London 
after the Battle of Hastings.

Secondly, whether intermarriage was banned or not, there would still have 
been significant interbreeding outside the marriage bond. I understand that 
in the late 19th century in England up to 25% of all children born were 
illegitimate. This at a time when, the disgrace of having a child outside 
marriage was probably at its most extreme. In the past such children have 
not generally been recognised by their fathers, suggesting that they would 
have lived and, presumably, later reproduced within the servile population. 
What effect would this have?

Thirdly, do not underestimate the survival of the celtic language, even in 
the south east of England.A significant proportion of rivers, including the 
Thames have pre-Roman names. In Berkshire, the area I know best, all the 
main tributaries of the Thames have pre-Roman names, and a number of minor 
waterwats. The name Berkshire, taken, it is thought from a large wooded area 
in the west of the county, is pre-Roman in origin. There are also several 
other pre-Roman placename survivors, generally they refer to landscape 
features. The majority of pre-Roman placenames are relatively close to 
Silchester, the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, a name completely lost and 
it has been suggested that the first element in the placename Silchester 
could be pre-Roman. Despite the Romanisation of central and south England, 
it is likely that there would be many people who could lives their lives 
quite successfully without speaking latin. Look at the continuation of a 
gaelic-only speaking populations in Wales and Scotland, despite many 
hundreds of years of English being the language of the dominant culture and 
essential for any engagement in civil life, even at the most trivial level.

Catherine Petts 

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