Monday, December 20, 2004

Ethnically-mixed Scotland

According to new research, the Scots may not be as Gaelic as was previously believed:

Bloodshed and blackmail, the hallmarks of the Border Reivers, have always been blamed on their Celtic or Pictish ancestry, adding to the reputation of the Scots as a violent and intolerant race.

But that reputation could yet be scuppered by modern science, which is already indicating that Armstrongs, Douglases, Elliots, Grahams, Rutherfords and other families who rendered the Borders ungovernable up to the end of the 16th century, were not necessarily descended from Scotland’s earliest settlers.

The first results from the Border Reiver DNA Project, set up by a computer software consultant from Boston, Massachusetts, shows the gangsters who perfected protection rackets long before Chicago was built may well have had their roots in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe or even North Africa.

The researcher, James Elliott, has spent months studying the DNA samples of men from Reiver backgrounds and has come up with a startling conclusion:

"So far we have discovered that, although a moderate majority of the Reivers’ descendents most likely have British Celtic ancestors, their ancestry as a whole is quite diverse. Many are clearly of Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian origin. Others exhibit DNA profiles that may once have been North African or Middle Eastern or, like my own profile, bear an uncanny affinity with the people of eastern Europe or with the steppes of central Asia."

The study also suggests that the large number of Roman troops stationed along Hadrian’s Wall may have left a strong impact on the genetic heritage of the people of the Borders.

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