Friday, September 22, 2006

British Isles Y-DNA studies

There is an interesting article from The Independent newspaper in England concerning the heritage of the Celts who inhabited the British Isles. The article is at

The money quotes from the article:

A team from Oxford University has discovered that the Celts, Britain's indigenous people, are descended from a tribe of Iberian fishermen who crossed the Bay of Biscay 6,000 years ago. DNA analysis reveals they have an almost identical genetic "fingerprint" to the inhabitants of coastal regions of Spain, whose own ancestors migrated north between 4,000 and 5,000BC.

and later:
The discovery, by Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, will herald a change in scientific understanding of Britishness.

People of Celtic ancestry were thought to have descended from tribes of central Europe. Professor Sykes, who is soon to publish the first DNA map of the British Isles, said: "About 6,000 years ago Iberians developed ocean-going boats that enabled them to push up the Channel. Before they arrived, there were some human inhabitants of Britain but only a few thousand in number. These people were later subsumed into a larger Celtic tribe... The majority of people in the British Isles are actually descended from the Spanish."

However, the most interesting part of the article for me is the summary of the different strains on British Isle ancestry:

Oisin -- Descended from Iberian fishermen who migrated to Britain between 4,000 and 5,000BC and now considered the UK's indigenous inhabitants.

Wodan -- Second most common clan arrived from Denmark during Viking invasions in the 9th century.

Sigurd -- Descended from Viking invaders who settled in the British Isles from AD 793. One of the most common clans in the Shetland Isles, and areas of north and west Scotland.

Eshu -- The wave of Oisin immigration was joined by the Eshu clan, which has roots in Africa. Eshu descendants are primarily found in coastal areas.

Re -- A second wave of arrivals which came from the Middle East. The Re were farmers who spread westwards across Europe.

Roman -- Although the Romans ruled from AD 43 until 410, they left a tiny genetic footprint. For the first 200 years occupying forces were forbidden from marrying locally.

I wish they had given some percentages for these origins.

This article is based on a new book by Dr. Dryan Sykes titled "Blood of the Isles" which will be published this week in England. The American edition apparently will not be available until November. It sounds like a future acquisition!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds like an interesting read. I wonder if they have a test to tell you which "tribe" you hail from (mostly, anyway). I would be curious to know that; I know I have many ancestors from the British Isles.