Sometime back, I took an Ancestry.com DNA test, which said that my genetics were 62% similar to modern-day inhabitants of Great Britain, and 32% similar to those from Greece and Italy. Due to the fact that 3/4 of my family tree was of German extraction, I found this to be somewhat puzzling.
I contacted a geneticist I knew (a friend of my wife's) and he said this was normal for certain groups of people of German descent who take the ancestry.com genetic tests, due to the great genetic diversity of Germany, a veritable cross-roads in European history, crisscrossed by hundreds of migratory groups throughout prehistory and antiquity. As a result, many people in Great Britain are genetically indistinguishable from sizeable portions in certain regions of Germany.
The geneticist told me that I was most likely of Saxon extraction and that the heaviest concentration of original Saxon markers was probably in Great Britain, even though the Saxons originated in Germany. This was because the Saxons migrated to Britain in the 300s and 400s. As the Roman Emperors faced attack from the Huns, Persians, and Germanic tribes from all over the Empire, they decided to recall many of the Legions, and they abandoned the least defensible parts of the Empire in order to focus on the defense of Italy, the Alps, and the southern portions of the Rhine and Danube. As a result, even though the Romans had been in Britain for over 300 years and the population of England and Wales had been heavily Romanized, they were abandoned. As the last Roman legions left, Germanic tribes from the Jutland Penininsula area, such as the Angles, Jutes and Saxons, decided that the civilized regions of Roman Britain--now without protection---would be easy pickings. They invaded and within 100 years they established new Germanic kingdoms. These were the Saxon kingdoms of Sussex, Wessex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Middle Angles, and many others. These tribes were initially pagan, but were quickly Christianized by Irish bishops and monks, who encouraged the "horde" to settle, become agricultural, and stop the life of nomadic plundering.
The Saxons who remained in northern Germany remained pagan for a few hundred years, and helped destroy the last vestiges of Roman rule in northern Germany. After the fall of Rome, they fought incessantly with Slavic tribes to the East, as well as that other Germanic tribe--the Franks, to the West.
By the 700s, the Franks had unified most of France under the Merovingian and later, Carolingian dynasty. After the rise of Charlemagne, they sought to "reunite the Roman Empire" and waged holy war on all the remaining non-Christian groups in Europe. Special animosity was held for their old enemy, the Saxons, who would eventually be annihilated in their home territories of Germany in an almost genocidal religious war between 772 and 810 AD. As a result, many of the inhabitants of the modern-day Saxon states of Germany, Lower-Saxony (Niedersachsen), Saxony-Anhalt (Sachsen-Anhalt) and Saxony (Sachsen) are somewhat more mixed than their forebears, due to the rapid loss of as much as 1/3 of their male population in war. As a result, modern inhabitants of the Saxon regions of Germany have a large amount of Frankish (Western European) DNA in them, not to mention Southern European (Roman genetic presence in parts of German preceded that of the Germans) and Celtic (who inhabited these lands before both the Romans and the Germans).
Much like the Franks, the Saxon tribe received its name from their prefered form of weaponry. Whereas the Franks used a battle axe known as a Francisca, a throwing-axe, the Saxons received their name from the Seax, which was a medium-sized dagger carried by all members of the tribe.
The county of Essex, in Great Britain, is the descendant of one of the old Saxon Kingdoms established there in the 400s. The name itself is a derivationx of the Saxon name for "Eastern Saxony" in Old English/Old German. Ost-Seachs. The flag contains a depiction of the Seax, which has been on Essex heraldry for almost 2,000 years. As an aside, the counties of Middlesex, Sussex and old English kingdom of Wessex also have names with the same directional connotations in Old German/Old English. Sussex meaning "South Saxony," Middlesex meaning "Middle Saxony," and Wessex meaning "West Saxony."
In addition to the Seax, many Saxon regions of Germany and Great Britain have the crest shown above, which is known as the "Saxon Steed," or "Sachsenross." It's present on the flag of the old Duchy of Saxony, the Hanoverian Coat of Arms, and the crest of Westphalia and the County of Kent, in Great Britain.
Kent County Arms
Due to the Hanoverian monarchs ascending to the throne of Great Britain in 1712, it is now also present on the crest of the House of Windsor--the British Royal Family (properly known as the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gothe).
Royal Standard of Windsors
First Saxon flag, 700s