OK, maybe the Princess part is a stretch. And she may not be able to swing a battle axe or a Carolingian Sword quite as well any more, but her genes show she comes from solid Viking Stock.
We had our DNA tested through 23andMe a few years ago partly to find out where we came from. A few cousins popped up, of course, which was part of the object for testing, but also trying to learn more about how our ancestors may have first arrived in Britain.
Linda is of very fair complexion and does not take the heat well. Both may have been common among the people from the northern reaches of ancient Europe.
The genetic history of our families is a subject I have become interested in. I am not just looking for cousins who might share a percentage point or two of DNA, but who were the earliest family members identifiable before there were records of any kind. I commented on one aspect of my DNA in my last blog post here, The Bell Beaker Culture & Me! Apparently, a major segment of my Y-DNA, the R1b-M269 marker, can be traced back to the Black Sea region about 10,000 years ago as part of the Bell Beaker peoples. They arrived in southern Britain about 2,000 years ago.
The Vikings, as a separate culture, of course, do not go back 10,000 years. But their origins include a wave of people carrying the R1b haplogroup chromosomes that spread into western Scandinavia, about the same time that it appeared in Britain, but as a different subgroup.
Studies of Viking voyages – of both exploration and conquest – show that groups of Scandinavians raided Britain frequently over hundreds of years. Two groups were active, the early Danes, who showed up in in England and early Norwegians who explored the northern regions, including the Orkneys, Shetlands, Faroes, Western Isles, Ireland and Iceland. The northern peninsula comprising Caithness and Sutherland.
Map showing regions subject o Viking raids between 780 and 814 AD (downloaded form The Map Archive)
Linda’s paternal and maternal lines go through Northern Scotland and the Shetlands, both regions where Vikings landed and set up colonies. The MacKay Clan was centred in Sutherland. MacKay was the surname of Linda’s father. Her mother’s family – the Coopers – originated in the Shetland Islands. Both are areas where Norwegian Vikings settled.
Clan map of northern Scotland (copied form Collins Scotland of Old Clans Map)
Linda’s DNA contains 4.2% Scandinavian content, which is a significant amount. Almost all the rest is British and Irish (87.1%) which would include contributions from the other Scottish ancestors from the mainland.
We are working to get more information from our own and siblings’ DNA reports to see whether anything more detailed can be obtained as to ancestral origins.
Perhaps Linda could be descended from a Viking princess!