We analysed the historical genetic diversity of human populations in Europe at the mtDNA control region for 48 ancient Britons who lived between ca AD 300 and 1000, and compared these with 6320 modern mtDNA genotypes from England and across Europe and the Middle East. We found that the historical sample shows greater genetic diversity than for modern England and other modern populations, indicating the loss of diversity over the last millennium. The pattern of haplotypic diversity was clearly European in the ancient sample, representing each of the modern haplogroups. There was also increased representation of one of the ancient haplotypes in modern populations. We consider these results in the context of possible selection or stochastic processes.
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