First black Briton was ‘from Cyprus’

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A BBC plaque honouring the ‘first black Briton’ has been removed after DNA analysis suggested she was not actually of African origin.

The sign celebrating the 1,800-year-old remains of ‘Beachy Head Lady’ was taken down after scientific research revealed she was ‘most likely from Cyprus’.

The plaque was placed in an east Sussex village by BBC Two as part of their 2016 Black and British series, where they billed the woman as the earliest ‘black Briton’, claiming she was of African origin.

However, the Telegraph reported that subsequent DNA analysis has suggested the BBC programme’s claims were wrong.

The study, by the Crick Institute, found that while she grew up in Eastbourne, her origins were actually in ‘southern Europe – most likely Cyprus’.

The now-removed plaque read: ‘The remains of “Beachy Head Woman” were found near this site.

‘Of African origin, she lived in East Sussex 2nd –3rd century AD.’

It had been installed at the village’s East Dean cricket club, close to where archaeologists had discovered the 1,800-year-old remains of the woman.

In the BBC programme, fronted by historian Prof David Olusoga, the Beachy Head Lady was presented as being of ‘sub-Saharan African’ origin, with a reconstruction of her features.

It was one of several plaques installed as part of the BBC series to honour black Britons across history.

Parish councillors in the village of East Dean voted to take down the plaque installed at the cricket pavilion.

The BBC History project plaque is now understood to be in storage at the cricket club.

The claim about her origins was made in Prof Olusoga’s documentary series Black and British: A Forgotten History, which told the story of the “enduring relationship between Britain and people whose origins lie in Africa”.

In episode one of the series, Beachy Head Lady was presented as “sub-Saharan African in origin”, and the programme featured a reconstruction of her features.

Prof Olusoga remarked that “she’s a black Briton”, as Jo Seaman, an expert archaeologist, explained that her African origins and the age of her remains likely made her the “earliest black Briton”. (source UK media)