Sykes published the first report on retrieving DNA from ancient bone (Nature, 1989). Sykes has been involved in a number of high-profile cases dealing with ancient DNA, including those of Ötzi the Iceman and Cheddar Man, and others concerning people claiming to be members of the Romanovs—the Russian royal family. His work also suggested a Florida accountant by the name of Tom Robinson was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, a claim that was subsequently disputed.
Sykes is best known outside the community of geneticists for his bestselling books on the investigation of human history and prehistory through studies of mitochondrial DNA. He is also the founder of Oxford Ancestors, a genealogical DNA testing firm.
Some quotations from the book follow. (Note that Sykes uses the terms "Celts" and "Picts" to designate the pre-Roman inhabitants of the Isles who spoke Celtic and does not mean the people known as Celts in central Europe.)
[T]he presence of large numbers of Jasmine’s Oceanic clan ... says to me that there was a very large-scale movement along the Atlantic seaboard north from Iberia, beginning as far back as the early Neolithic and perhaps even before that. ,,,The mere presence of Oceanic Jasmines indicates that this was most definitely a family based settlement rather that the sort of male-led invasions of later millennia.
The Celts of Ireland and the Western Isles are not, as far as I can see from the genetic evidence, related to the Celts who spread south and east to Italy, Greece and Turkey from the heartlands of Hallstadt and La Tene...during the first millennium BC...The genetic evidence shows that a large proportion of Irish Celts, on both the male and female side, did arrive from Iberia at or about the same time as farming reached the Isles. (...)
The connection to Spain is also there in the myth of Brutus.... This too may be the faint echo of the same origin myth as the Milesian Irish and the connection to Iberia is almost as strong in the British regions as it is in Ireland. (...)
They [the Picts] are from the same mixture of Iberian and European Mesolithic ancestry that forms the Pictish/Celtic substructure of the Isles.
Here again, the strongest signal is a Celtic one, in the form of the clan of Oisin, which dominates the scene all over the Isles. The predominance in every part of the Isles of the Atlantis chromosome (the most frequent in the Oisin clan), with its strong affinities to Iberia, along with other matches and the evidence from the maternal side convinces me that it is from this direction that we must look for the origin of Oisin and the great majority of our Y-chromosomes...I can find no evidence at all of a large-scale arrival from the heartland of the Celts of central Europe amongst the paternic genetic ancestry of the Isles... can
Books: A New Leaf for the Family Tree ; Even If This Book Can't Name Our Foremothers, It Does Show How Genetics Rewrites History, Says Chris Stringer: The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes Bantam Press, Pounds 18.99, 316pp
Jul 07, 2001; I must first declare an interest in reviewing this book, as Bryan Sykes and I collaborate on scientific projects. I am there in...