Scotland’s regional DNA

I’m still getting used to the new-ish research that shows ancient European populations were largely replaced by later invasions, but the most recent invasions (like the Anglo-Saxons in England) didn’t really replace the local population like we always thought they did. It takes a degree of mental agility to keep up.

Now there’s some DNA news to comfort my conservative soul. “Experts have constructed Scotland’s first comprehensive genetic map, which reveals that the country is divided into six main clusters of genetically similar individuals: the Borders, the south-west, the north-east, the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

“These groupings are in similar locations to early medieval kingdoms such as Strathclyde in the south-west, Pictland in the north-east, and Gododdin in the south-east. The study also discovered that some of the founders of Iceland may have originated from north-west Scotland and Ireland and that the Isle of Man is genetically predominantly Scottish.”

You can read the full article at, or take a look at the underlying study at PNAS. Either way, the part that amazes and pleases me is not just the evidence of regional continuity but the fact that the evidence comes from DNA.

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