We are a nation of migrants.
It’s a phrase that gets thrown around a lot these days, and in the wake of yet more divisive rhetoric from Ukip, and as we move into Black History Month, we’re going to hear it more.
But is it true? Or is it just a convenient fiction – something that’s useful to throw in the face of the bar-room bore who’s cornered you for a rant about migrants ruining the country? What is the real history of multicultural Britain?
Migration from overseas is, of course, nothing new to Britain. The Anglo-Saxons were migrants, in fact recent archaeology suggests they were much more peaceful than we’d thought, and that the old idea of a ‘genocide’ of the ‘indigenous’ Celtic population is untrue.
And there have been both waves and ripples of immigration ever since.
In 1066, William the Conqueror’s invasion brought over a small number…
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