Scale of Viking ancestry uncovered

Shetland's the Up Helly Aa. Picture: Jane Barlow
Shetland's the Up Helly Aa. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Around one million Britons can claim direct descent from Vikings, according to a new DNA study.

Men from the far north of Scotland were most likely to provide a direct match with almost a third (29.2%) of the men from the Shetland Islands testing positive for Viking blood.

Researchers compared Y chromosome markers, which are inherited from father to son, from more than 3,500 men to six DNA patterns rarely found outside the Norse warrior’s native Norway and Sweden.

Other areas that scored highly included the Orkney Islands (25.2%), Caithness (17.5%) and the Isle of Man (12.3%).

The researchers found around one in 33 men across the UK, or 930,000, were a direct match.

The study, commissioned to coincide with the launch of the new series of the US TV show Vikings on the Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service, only tested men whose grandfathers had lived in the same areas.

“Despite arriving well over 1,000 years ago the Viking legacy still remains strong in Britain and Ireland,” said Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist at BritainsDNA which carried out the test.

“The research suggests that the concentration of Norse blood is quite variable, but as the Y chromosome only relates to the nation’s male population and only to one ancestral lineage for each man, there is a very real chance that many more of us are related to the Vikings.”

The 10 areas of Britain with the highest concentration of Viking ancestry are:

1. Shetland - 29.2%

2. Orkney - 25.2%

3. Caithness - 17.5%

4. Isle of Man - 12.3%

5. Western Isles - 11.3%

6. North West Scotland and Inner Hebrides - 9.9%

7. Argyll - 5.8%

8. Yorkshire - 5.6%

9. North East Scotland - 4.9%

10. North England - 4%