Generations of historians have questioned why the Picts seemed to disappear from history after fighting the Romans and Vikings. But BritainsDNA has found a new DNA marker that suggests they are alive and well and “living among us”.
Dr Jim Wilson, chief scientist for the group, has found a new Y chromosome marker that arose among the direct ancestors of the Picts.
He tested the new “fatherline” in more than 3,000 British and Irish men and found an “amazing statistic” suggesting it was ten times more common in men with Scottish grandfathers, than in men with English grandfathers.
Ten per cent of the more than 1,000 Scottish men tested carry the R1b-S530 marker, while less than one per cent of Englishmen have it.
Dr Wilson said the difference was “highly statistically signiflicant” and could be applied to the general population. About three per cent of men in Northern Ireland also carry the marker, but it was only seen once in more than 200 men from the Republic of Ireland.
The company, which maps ancestry for individuals by looking at their DNA, said it had so far found 170 men in Scotland carrying the Pictish marker.
Dr Wilson, a lecturer in genetics at Edinburgh University, said, “The finding just popped out of the analysis. While there have been hints of this from previous data, what was surprising was the really huge difference between England and Scotland.
“It is also a clear sign that although people have moved around in recent times, there remains a core who have stayed at home, for a very long time.”
Alistair Moffat, the historian and co-founder of BritainsDNA, added, “Politically the Picts seemed to vanish after a crucial battle with the Vikings in Strathmore in 839 and the establishment of Kenneth MacAlpin and his dynasty in the middle of the 9th century.
“But what these fascinating new findings tell us is that, kings and dynasties apart, there is a hidden, people’s history of Scotland bubbling under the headlines, a history only DNA can reveal.”
Cramb, Auslan. 2013. “The Picts are 'alive and well' and living in Scotland”. The Telegraph. Posted: March 25, 2013. Available online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9953179/The-Picts-are-alive-and-well-and-living-in-Scotland.html