The Genetic Legacy of the Vikings in the north of England project

This study is being carried by out by Dr Turi King in the lab of Professor Mark Jobling at the University of Leicester.  Turi can be contacted at

Current status of the project

Turi has carried out the sampling and genetic typing of nearly 2500 men with ancestry in either the north of England or Norway.  The last few samples are just coming in. Turi has been rather waylaid by the Richard III project but hopes to have the typing completed by the fall of 2013 and then can start on the analysis.

Information for participants who have already received their results can be found here.


Background to the project

In this study we aim to look at the proportion of Viking ancestry in different parts of the north of England.

As a group of islands on the edge of a continent, we know that the British Isles have been on the receiving end of numerous migrations. The peopling has occurred in waves, from early Paleolithic settlers, through to the spread of farmers during the Neolithic, the arrival of Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Danish and Norse Vikings. The modern population also includes likely trace contributions from other groups, too. The contributions of these various groups to the modern population of the British Isles is debated, and the purpose of this research project is to use genetic methods to contribute to our understanding of these past events. To carry out this research we can use surnames, and information about the birthplaces of recent ancestors.

Most people get their surnames from their father, and men also inherit specific genetic material (DNA) from their father too. This is the Y chromosome, which is responsible for making males. We know that a Y chromosome type can relate to a particular surname and we also know that most surnames are linked to particular regions. Thus by sampling men with specific surnames and/or with ancestry in particular locations, we should be able to draw up a map of the different types of Y chromosome types found in different regions in the past. We will look, for example, at regions where we suspect that there was a strong influence of Norse Vikings and compare the Y chromosomes found here with ones found in Norway.

The only criteria for participating has been that you are a man whose father’s father was born in the county of Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Durham or Northumberland and that you have one of the surnames that are thought to be ‘northern’ surnames.

Academic Collaborators

Berit M Dupuy, Oslo University College, Norway

We are very grateful to the following people for assistance in collecting samples in Norway: Harold Lovvik, Sigurd Aase, Stephen Harding and Anne Marit Berge.

This project follows a smaller pilot project carried out in the lab of Professor Mark Jobling.

Excavating Past Population Structures by Surname-Based Sampling: The Genetic Legacy of the Vikings in Northwest England. Georgina R. Bowden, Patricia Balaresque, Turi E. King, Ziff Hansen,Andrew C. Lee, Giles Pergl-Wilson,Emma Hurley,Stephen J. Roberts, Patrick Waite,Judith Jesch, Abigail L. Jones, Mark G. Thomas, Stephen E. Harding and Mark A. Jobling. Mol. Biol. Evol. 25(2):301–309. 2008

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Professor Alison Goodall

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