DNA – the key to your deep ancestry
In my spare time I have tried to trace my lineage in Scotland using digitised records available from official sources on www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. So far I have traced the family back to the year 1745 on my father’s side, around 1800 on mother’s.
Last year I decided to go even further and sent off a sample of my saliva to a firm in Scotland who perform DNA testing (www.scotlandsdna.com).* Being a man I can have both my father’s and my mother’s lineage traced. (I’ll explain why later). On Dad’s side my Y-DNA indicates that we are descended from the Picts, the first inhabitants of the British Isles after the retreat of the Ice Age glaciers some 11,000 years ago. In technical terms my Y chromosome group is R1b-M269, common in Western Europe but also occasionally found in China, India and Russia. My Y-DNA markers are M269+S145+M222-S190-S168-S169-.
Mum’s lineage is even older. My so-called mtDNA marker is H, a mutation which arose some 40,000 years ago in Western Asia. It is found all over Europe but is most frequent in the Basque country of Spain and France. My matrilineal ancestors survived the Ice Age sheltering in caves like the famous Chauvet Cave in the south of France. As the climate warmed the ice sheets melted and new territory became exposed. This allowed these pioneers to leave their refuges and walk north to populate northern Europe, including the British Isles and Scandinavia.
So that is my so-called deep ancestry – no great surprises there but nevertheless an interesting story and well worth the investment. Other people who have had their DNA tested have been able to make connections which they never dreamt off. A man in the north of Scotland has learnt that he belongs to the second branch of the mother line family tree.
So far some 6000 analyses have been performed by ScotlandsDNA., mainly from the UK but also from USA, Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway. Worldwide some 500,000 individuals have had their DNA tested by genetic testing companies. As more and more people have their DNA analysed, the database will be expanded allowing further refinement in the mapping of our lineages.
That is the background to this blog. To me it is a fascinating field. All new since I attended university in the 1960’s. That why I decided to spend some time trying to understand the subject and make it available to those interested via this blog. I will do my best to keep it non-technical, but it can be difficult. I won’t pretend to be an expert in the subject – so comments and corrections to my blog are more than welcome.
- Please note that the firm scotlandsdna.com is now defunct. However, there are a number of firms out thee which provide a similar service