Cheddar Man is the name given to the remains of a human male found in Gough's Cave in Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, England. The remains date to approximately 7150 BC, and it appears that he died a violent death, perhaps related to the cannibalism practiced in the area at the time. He is Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton.

The remains were excavated in 1903, and currently reside in the Natural History Museum in London, with a replica in the "Cheddar Man and the Cannibals" museum in Cheddar village.

Mitochondrial DNA testing[edit | edit source]

In the late 1990s, Bryan Sykes of Oxford University first sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of Cheddar Man, with DNA extracted from one of Cheddar Man's molars. Cheddar Man was determined to have belonged to a branch of mitochondrial haplogroup U, a haplogroup which is especially common in Britain, Ireland and the Basque Country of northern Spain and south western France. Haplogroup U is generally found to be most common in southern and western Europe and may have originated in West Asia. Bryan Sykes' research into Cheddar Man was filmed as he performed it. As a means of connecting Cheddar Man to the living residents of Cheddar village, he compared mitochondrial DNA taken from twenty living residents of the village to that extracted from Cheddar Man’s molar. It produced two exact matches and one match with a single mutation. The two exact matches were schoolchildren, and their names were not released. The close match was a history teacher named Adrian Targett. [1]

This modern connection to Cheddar Man (who died at least three thousand years before agriculture began in Britain) makes very credible the theory that modern-day Britons are not all descended from Middle-Eastern migratory farmers, but rather modern Britons are descended from ancient European Palaeolithic and Mesolithic hunter-gatherer tribes who much later on adopted farming.

External links[edit | edit source]

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