Modern Scots Share DNA With Dark Age Picts
Scientists reveal modern Scots have strong genetic links with their Dark Age ancestors.
“We're a' Jock Tamson's bairns” (We are all Jock Tamson’s children) is an old Scottish phrase meaning all Scots are the same beneath the skin, having been first quoted in the 1847 Dictionary of the Scots Language. Every Scot knows that it describes an expression of mutual good fellowship among Scots. However, new research suggests groups of Scots are not only the same in nature, but under the skin they share strong genetic ties with their Dark Age ancestors.
The Dark Ages encompass a period from around the collapse of the Roman Empire in 476 AD to around 1000 AD when Pictish tribes battled, united, and battled again for territorial domination of what is today Scotland. The Romans had a good pop at wiping out the Picts, and when they left the Picts gave it a fair bash themselves, but the ancient lineage survived and after many centuries of inter-tribal tussles, today’s hardy Scots are closely connected ‘genetically’ with their Dark Age ancestors.
Marrying Local Lassies Keeps DNA Strong
The new study published by researchers from the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and MRC Human Genetics unit presents the first comprehensive genetic map of Scottish people’s DNA showing that modern folk have genetic links with ‘ancient kingdoms’, by living in the same areas as their 1000 year old progenitors.
An article in The Scotsman speaking with Edinburgh University’s Professor Jim Wilson, quotes him saying the links are largely due to a majority of Scottish people having married local folks, thus “preserving their genetic identity”. He also said the DNA links are “remarkable” after the massive population movement even since the industrial revolution.
A majority of Scottish people married in their local community and which helped to preserved their genetic identity. (Vasiliy Koval / Adobe Stock)
Medical Applications Of The Scottish DNA Map
The research divided Scotland into six main groups in the Borders, the south-west, the north-east, the Hebrides, Orkney, and Shetland, reflecting the main Dark Age kingdoms such as Strathclyde in the south-west of Scotland, Gododdin in the south-east, and Pictland in the north and east. Modern people within the six clusters were found to be genetically similar to their ancestors, with Orkney and Shetland having the highest levels of Norwegian ancestry outside Scandinavia.
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Scotland is divided into six main clusters of genetically similar individuals. (University of Edinburgh / Fair Use)
The study isn’t just a story of ancient Scotland but the scientists new genetic map extends across the UK and the Republic of Ireland and uniting with scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the DNA samples were compared with DNA from people who lived thousands of years ago. It was revealed that the Isle of Man is genetically predominantly Scottish, and that the founders of Iceland may have originated from north-west Scotland and Ireland.
The scientists think this new understanding of the genetic make-up of the population might “aid the discovery of rare DNA differences that might play major roles in human disease” assisting in the production of genomic medicine. As an example, Progressor Wilson said that when teams research conditions such as diabetes they focus on data sets from people living in and around the country’s largest cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, or Dundee, but the new study looked at the genetics of more than 2500 people from across the UK.
Roman accounts of the Picts depict war obsessed barbarian savages, but this couldn’t be further from the truth, for all archaeological evidence points towards a highly sophisticated culture who had emerged by the latter half of the first millennium AD, who had a tendency to fight. To balance the propaganda of the Roman records we need look no further than a 2008 article in the Independent about the excavation of a Pictish monastery at Portmahomack on the Tarbat Peninsula in Easter Ross, in north-east Scotland.
Rome called the Scots, barbarians ignoring all contributions they made to culture. (Marko Stamatovic / Adobe Stock)
Known as “one the most important archaeological discoveries in Scotland for 30 years,” these ‘primitive' Pictish warriors used complex architectural principles which were described by architectural historians as “astonishing, mind-blowing”. The monastery was constructed using the sacred ratio 1.618, which appears often in nature, also called “the Golden Section”, or “Divine Proportion”, several centuries later in the Renaissance.
Therefore, not only do Scots have a proud warrior heritage, but they also share the genes of ancient artisans, architects, and spiritualists, who built monuments in stone not only to mark territorial boundaries, but as a display of faith in God. Not bad for barbarians!
Top image: Modern Scots Share DNA With Dark Age Picts. Source: Peter Atkins / Adobe Stock.
By Ashley Cowie