London, May 6 : A new research has suggested that the Welsh can trace their ancestry back to Portugal and Spain, debunking the century-old received wisdom that they came from Iron Age Germany and Austria.
According to a report in the Western Mail, the research was carried out by Professor John Koch from the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies, in Aberystwyth, Wales.
Koch's radical work on Celtic origins flatly contradicts the writing of Sir John Rhys, who in the late 19th century established the idea that the Celts originally came from central Europe.
Sir John had believed that the Celts were the remnants of a great culture that extended from modern-day eastern France, Switzerland, southern Germany and Austria.
But Professor Koch has determines that archaeological inscriptions on stones show that the Celts came from southern Portugal and south-west Spain.
"There is evidence in Spain and Portugal indicating they were there 500 or more years before," according to Koch.
He explains that there are Celtic texts in Portugal and Spain way before they started springing up in central Europe during Roman times.
One key piece of evidence is the earliest written language of western Europe - Tartessian, found on inscribed stones in Portugal and Spain dating back to between 800 BC and 400 BC.
Koch maintains this language can be deciphered as Celtic.
According to Dr Raimund Karl, an expert on Welsh history and archaeology, there is also biological and genetic evidence to support professor Koch's theory.
"In the last couple of years there have been a number of genetic studies of human DNA indicating that the population of much of the western part of the British Isles is related to other communities along the Atlantic seafront," said Karl. "These include Brittany, northern Spain, Portugal and the French Atlantic coast. That's their genetic origin," he added.
Dr Karl said that there is also archaeological evidence suggesting a cultural link with central Europe.
"There is evidence suggesting a link with central Europe from elite-material culture - stuff associated with the upper parts of society. This includes weaponry, feasting equipment, artwork on jewellery and other prestigious items," he said.