4th March 2015:

Scientific analysis of skeletons from an early 5th- to early 7th-century Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavated by Oxford Archaeology at Berinsfield, Oxfordshire, has shed light on the question of whether Anglo-Saxon invaders completely displaced the indigenous Britons or whether the Britons integrated with the incomers.

A team from Durham University led by Dr Andrew Millard studied the ratios of chemicals or isotopes from the enamel of teeth from 19 of the 100 or so burials recovered in 1974 and 1975 by archaeologists from what was then the Oxford Archaeological Unit.

The ratios of the strontium and oxygen isotopes, which are determined by the food and drink that individuals consume during their childhood, allowed the team to identify where the individuals of the sample population were born.

The results suggested that just 5% of the population originated outside the local area, supporting the idea that the local people continued to live in the region when the Anglo-Saxons arrived and adopted the culture of the new elites.

The study has been published in the latest volume of the Journal of Archaeological Science. The story was also featured on the Past Horizons website.