The latest craze in genealogy is getting your DNA analysed and I have to admit I resisted getting mine done for a long time because it felt like a gimmick to me. The other reason I felt it wouldn’t be very useful to me is that my tree is predominantly British and I had no reason to doubt otherwise so it felt like a waste of time and money just to confirm something I already knew.
However, a few months ago I came across the surname Romanes on my tree and it gave me pause for thought. The name had been on my tree for while but the poorly handwritten certificate had made me interpret it as Ramsay which isn’t an uncommon surname in Scotland. When I discovered I had misinterpreted the name, it got a little more exciting as it could have proven I had non-British links after all. Alas, the name was too far back on my tree to yield much information but it did convince me maybe a DNA test wouldn’t be a waste of time after all.
Another reason that persuaded me to take the plunge was the arrival of a new test from Living DNA which actually breaks down your DNA to a subregion level which is something I’ve never seen before. If my test did come back predominately British, at least I would get a regional breakdown out of it. Living DNA are associated with Find my Past, a site I use, and I took advantage of a Black Friday sale to get a discount on my test. Living DNA were hit with a lot of orders that weekend so I decided to wait until after New Year before I submitted my test for analysis.
The instructions were very easy to follow and I used the provided swab first thing in the morning so it wouldn’t get contaminated with food as instructed. Once my account had been activated and the sample sent away, I only had to wait 5-6 weeks for my results which is about the time span indicated on the information. I actually received my results email at work and couldn’t wait to delve into the information so my poor work colleagues had to put with my excited babbling. They don’t share my excitement for all things genealogical.
The results did indicate I was 100% British much to my disappointment and the sub-regional aspects were very confusing at first glance. Once I got home and delved a little deeper, they started to make a lot more sense.
- Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland 74%
- Southeast England 8.4%
- Northwest Scotland 5.4%
- Ireland 4.7%
- Aberdeenshire 1.9%
- Northumbria 1.6%
- East Anglia 1.5%
- Lincolnshire 1.3%
- South Yorkshire 1.1%
One of the first things I had to do was learn to ignore the customary geographical areas on the map and understand I was looking at migratory patterns. While the highest percentage of my DNA is Scottish/Irish, the areas are slightly off as my family is predominately from Central Scotland so the mass of colour on the map around Dumfries & Galloway confused me a little. According to Living DNA, the genetic legacy of Scots and Irish people has become so interlinked as to have become almost indistinguishable which is why Northern Ireland is lumped in with Southwest Scotland.
The results for Northumbria also seemed a little low to me as my maternal grandfather came from Durham and his family have lived there for generations so I was expecting it to be higher than 1.6%. However, it seems like a chunk of people from that region also share DNA from those in Southwest Scotland which explains a lot.
While the rest of the percentages seem okay, I also thought Ireland 4% was a little odd, however Living DNA say these genes probably just indicate Celtic ancestry which they are choosing to identify as Ireland at the moment. The same goes for East Anglia which more than likely indicates Anglo-Saxon ancestry rather than a genetic link to that geographical area.
It can get a little confusing but it is important to understand Living DNA are still building their database and the results will be refined as more information becomes available. I should also point out, being female, I can only get my Motherline (mtDNA) analysed as I will need to get a male relative to do a test to get the Fatherline (yDNA) done.
Overall, I am glad I took the plunge as it has been an interesting experience, although I will admit to still being overwhelmed by the information. I’m curious to see how my results change as time goes on though. According to their website, Living DNA are also undergoing a lot of improvements on their website and are launching more products which should enrich the user experience.
Please note this is not a sponsored post or a paid promotion for Living DNA. It’s merely my opinion of their service.