A recent Ancestry.com study showed that we are less British than we think. In fact, the
average UK citizen is only about 37 percent British.
AncestryDNA carried out a study looking at UK ethnicity dating back some 500 years. The
study found that the average UK person is:
* 37 percent Anglo-Saxon (old British)
* 22 percent Irish-Celtic
* 20 percent Western European (France/Germany)
* 9 percent Scandinavian
* 3 percent Iberian Peninsula
* 2 percent Italy/Greece
* 7 percent other
How British you are depends on where you live too. The study looked at regions in England
and found that Yorkshire is the “most” British with their DNA showing 41.17 percent
Britishness. In the East Midlands, you find the most Scandinavian DNA (10.37 percent) and
the East of England has the most Western European (22.52 percent).
Brad Argent from AncestryDNA said that the study showed that the UK had been a melting
pot not just for generations, but centuries. How did our melting pot culture come about?
Hunter-gatherer communities lived in the British Isles from roughly 10,000 BCE, at which
time the land was linked to continental Europe by territory called Doggerland. Rising sea
levels separated the two some 8,000 years ago. The Neolithic and Bronze ages (4,500 to
600 BCE) transformed the British isles, thanks to the adoption of agriculture.
In the first millennium BCE, immigration from Europe established the Celtic language as the
language of the islands. In 40AD, southern Britain became part of the Roman empire, while
at the same time Ireland was invaded and settled by the Gaels.
The Anglo Saxons are thought to have inhabited Britain since the 5th Century, creating a
number of kingdoms. Vikings from Denmark and Norway conquered most of England in the
9th Century – only the Kingdom of Wessex (today Essex Middlesex and Sussex) remained.
Alfred the Great reconquered and unified most of England in the 10th Century before Danish
rule re-established itself in the early 11th Century. Danish rule was eventually overthrown,
but the Normans invaded in 1066, establishing the French elite as the rulers and governors
of England and Ireland.
Those thousands of years provide a hypothetical explanation for our varied genes – from the
Celts, to the Romans, the Vikings and the Normans – Britain has endured countless
invasions and settlements. No wonder we’re so diverse!