Anglo-Saxon Fen Dwellers

Anglo-Saxon Fen Dwellers | Northern Europe | England | 300-1,000 CE (Early Medieval Period)

While men have stolen the limelight with the spectacular discovery of the Sutton Hoo ship-burial and the heroic exploits of Beowulf, it is a little known fact that Anglo-Saxon women were near equal companions to the males in their lives. There was more equality between the sexes in Anglo-Saxon England than in any other time or place before the modern era. After Christianization beginning in the seventh century, England was the first country to elevate women to sainthood. In addition to traditional roles in cooking, clothing, household management, animal husbandry and agriculture, Anglo-Saxon women excelled at the professions of jester, cupbearer, peace-weaver (diplomat), memory keeper, scribe, painter, jeweler, religious leader (priestess, abbess), healer and herbalist.

The Anglo-Saxons invaded the east coasts and estuaries of England starting in the fifth century. They came, roughly speaking, from Schleswig in northern Germany, on the border with present-day Denmark. They were highly mixed, with many foreign elements, and it did not take them long to blend with the British people, heirs of the former Roman colony. The females from the Fens and, to a lesser extent, the two males in this test demonstrate this diversity and admixture.

A few kilometers from Cambridge, in the east of England, lies the village of Oakington. While evidence of ancient burials in Oakington was first uncovered in 1926, it wasn’t until 1994 that archeological excavation of the site began. By 2014, over 120 individuals had been unearthed: Anglo-Saxon men, women, and a large number of children.

We have ancient DNA samples from four women buried at Oakington near Yorkshire who would have lived in the 5th or 6th century CE. One woman was in her mid 40s; standing around 5’3” she had native British ancestry – probably a descendant of Iron Age Britons. The grave goods that surrounded her suggest that she was wealthy. The other three show mixed or non-British heritage: their clear genetic affinity with Dutch and Danish populations suggest that they, or some of their recent ancestors, were Anglo-Saxon immigrants. When all of these ancient DNA samples are compared to contemporary populations another striking pattern is revealed: the current population of England derives between 25 and 40 percent of its ancestry from Anglo-Saxon migrations. The mtDNA haplogroups of the four samples were U5, H1, and T2a. All three are found throughout Europe today, although T is the least frequent.

At a second site, Hinxton, three female skeletons and two male skeletons were excavated and their remains carbon-dated to between 1215 and 2067 CE, considered Middle Anglo-Saxon. Their mtDNA were H2a2, H1a1, K1a1, and K1a4. The Y-DNA of both males was R1b1a2a1a2. R1b is the most common male haplogroup today in the British Isles.

Code: AFD-6, 7

Ancient DNA Hub Reference: Oakington, Hinxton

Story ID: 10181, 10195

Contributing ancient genomes: 9 (Cyneweard, Ealdgyd, Edelpryd, Elffgifu, Elfflaed, Leofflaed, Mildgyd, Sigeweard, Wassa)

You may be interested in these present-day populations available in the

DNA Fingerprint Plus:

British (n=298)

England/Wales (n=437)

White – U.S. (n=3,915)

Germany (n=662)

Denmark (n = 200)

You may be interested in the following potential match from the Rare Genes from History test:

The Empire Gene

You may also be interested in the following Primeval DNA tests:

Ice Age Europeans

Vikings in Medieval Iceland

Stone Age Europeans

Ancient Britons of Roman Britain






Currently available ancient peoples and cultures

Ancient Britons in Roman Britain

Britons, Romans and others buried between 100 and 300 CE in Driffield Terrace cemetery outside York, England

Read more

Egyptian Mummies

Ancient mummified Egyptians sampled from the Abusire el-Meleq Archeological Site near Cairo

Read more

Vikings in Medieval Iceland

Norse and Irish settlers in Iceland from its earliest colonization

Read more

Ancient Israelites

Farmers, herders, merchants and other Levantine people who lived in the bounds of modern-day Israel from the end of the Stone Age down to Biblical times

Read more

Anglo-Saxon Fen Dwellers

Angles, Saxons and other heathen peoples who invaded the east coast of England from Germany and Denmark beginning with the fall of Roman Britain, settling and intermarrying with the Britons.

Read more

Minoans and Mycenaeans

Greek maritime city-states from the Bronze Age who left writings in Linear A and Linear B

Read more

Mal’ta Boy

Controversial Ice Age link between ancient Northern Europeans and American Indians

Read more

Kennewick Man

One of America’s oldest inhabitants and certainly its most mysterious.

Read more


Coming Soon!

Upcoming Ancient
Peoples and Cultures

  • Prehistoric Africans
  • Templar Knights and Crusaders
  • Amazons

Sign up for updates

* indicates required