In recent years, a strong effort has been made to rewrite the history of Britain to make the current massive immigration appear to be as traditionally British as crumpets. For example, Wikipedia's article on "Immigration to the United Kingdom" begins:
The United Kingdom has had a long history of immigration, from the Beaker people of the 3rd millennium BC, to the waves of invasions by the Roman Empire, the Anglo-Saxons and Normans, to the settlement of people arriving from the Colonies in the 19th and 20th centuries and finally to modern immigration.
The history of immigration to the United Kingdom is, essentially, the history of the development of the United Kingdom itself, making it what it is today. It is fair to say that the ancestors of most people living in the United Kingdom today were immigrants at one time or another throughout history.
In reality, it now appears that until the last 50 years, there was remarkably little immigration into Britain since the immediate post-Ice Age period:
British Have Changed Little Since Ice Age, Gene Study Says
James Owen for National Geographic News
July 19, 2005 Despite invasions by Saxons, Romans, Vikings, Normans, and others, the genetic makeup of today's white Britons is much the same as it was 12,000 ago, a new book claims.
In The Tribes of Britain, archaeologist David Miles says around 80 percent of the genetic characteristics of most white Britons have been passed down from a few thousand Ice Age hunters.
Miles, research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology in Oxford, England, says recent genetic and archaeological evidence puts a new perspective on the history of the British people.
"There's been a lot of arguing over the last ten years, but it's now more or less agreed that about 80 percent of Britons' genes come from hunter-gatherers who came in immediately after the Ice Age," Miles said.
These nomadic tribespeople followed herds of reindeer and wild horses northward to Britain as the climate warmed. "Numbers were probably quite small—just a few thousand people," Miles added. These earliest settlers were later cut off as rising sea levels isolated Britain from mainland Europe.
New evidence for the genetic ancestry of modern Britons comes from analysis of blood groups, oxygen traces in teeth, and DNA samples taken from skeletal remains.
Ice Age hunter-gathers also colonized the rest of northwest Europe, spreading through what are now the Netherlands, Germany, and France. But Miles said differences between populations can be detected in random genetic mutations, which occurred over time.
The most visible British genetic marker is red hair, he added. The writer Tacitus noted the Romans' surprise at how common it was when they arrived 2,000 years ago.
"It's something that foreign observers have often commented on," Miles said. "Recent studies have shown that there is more red hair in Scotland and Wales than anywhere else in the world. It's a mutation that probably occurred between 8,000 and 10,000 years ago."
Britain's population in the late Stone Age may have much been larger than historians once supposed. For instance, scientists have calculated that it would have taken around 30 million hours to create Stonehenge.
"By the time Stonehenge was built you'd had about a thousand years of farming," Miles said. "The population's expanding, and people are getting together to form big labor forces to put up these big public buildings."
Population estimates based on the size and density of settlements put Britain's population at about 3.5 million by the time Romans invaded in A.D. 43.