| SHETLAND ISLANDS HAPLOGROUP R1b
|THE ANCIENT ORIGINS OF THE HAPLOGROUPS FOUND IN SHETLAND
R1b (Hg1, Eu18) is the most common haplogroup in Europe and its frequency changes in a cline
from west (where it reaches a saturation point of almost 100% in areas of Western Ireland) to
east (where it becomes uncommon in parts of Eastern Europe and virtually disappears beyond
the Middle East). R1b is defined by maker P25+, and the vast majority of Northern
Europeans are R1bc, defined by marker M269+. R1b haplotypes (a set of marker scores
indicative of the haplogroup) are found at relatively high frequency in the areas where the
Anglo - Saxon and Danish "invaders" originally called home (e.g., 55% in Friesland), and
even up to 30% in Norway. Thus a R1b haplotype makes it very challenging to interpret the
origin of a family with this DNA signature.
In 2005 Ethnoancestry located two markers which may break through what was once an
impregnible barrier. With the prosaic names of S21 (R1b1c9) and S28 (R1b1c10) these markers
on the Y chromosome, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), appear to have
arisen over 5000 years ago (probably much longer) and are found in all the descendants of the
man in which each first appeared. Recently both markers have been offered by FTDNA
under the names of U106 and U152 respectively.
To date it appears that S21 in Britain marks "Anglo - Saxon" and so on the Continent in Italy
(perhaps a legacy of the Visigoth and Lombard Germanic invaders), north to Saxony and
Friesland and the home of the Angles. Norway is about two thirds S21 positive; and the
surrogate for the Anglo - Saxon homeland (Friesland) is about seventy five percent S21
S28 is seen further east and in England only in what is known as the "Danelaw" which
appears to mark Danish Viking in those who possess it. On the Continent it is seen from
Greece to Ukraine, Hungary, southern Poland, the Czech Republic and west across the
northern tier of the Alps in southern Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and Switzerland to the
Bay of Biscay in France - mirroring perfectly the territory of the Iron Age La Tene Celts. It
also seems to be characteristic of the Danish Isles (although this has yet to be conclusively
demonstrated) and the Danish people migrated north from Southern Sweden to Norway.
Thus, some Norse will be S28+ but based on research samples only from the Southeastern
part of Norway - although a larger sample may locate a more widespread distribution.
Another SNP was identified in 2008 which links all of the downstream R1b1c subclades which
are derived (positive) on S116 except R1b1c9 (negative on S116). About 50% of R1b1c will
be S116* meaning negative on all SNPs downstream of S116. To date individuals with this
motif tend to cluster along the Atlantic facade including Denmark and Norway.
In 2006 the International Society of Genetic Genealogists presented a comprehensive Y-tree
which employed the above terminology. However to complicate matters, in April 2008 Karafet
et al. (a team led by Dr. Hammer of the University of Arizona) has published an updated
version of the 2002 Y-Chromosome Consortium (YCC) Y-chromosome phylogenetic tree.
M269 is now called R1b1b2, S21/U106 is R1b1b2g and S28/U152 id R1b1b2h. However since
the discovery of S116, the nomenclature will have to change again. Ultimately the
administrator will use more rational terms such as R1b-U106 and R1b-U152 which will
presumably never change.
Much work remains to explore the demography of these markers via research samples we are
testing - and the search is on to discover new SNPs that will characterize each group. For
example M222 was linked by Ethnoancestry to the Ui Neill Irish dynasty and North West
Irish peoples. It is still problematic when someone is S21 negative and S28 negative (R1b1c)
so S116*, since about one third of Norwegians and one quarter of Friesans are of this motif -
but almost all Irish and Highland Scots. Thus is it much more common (and likely the
hallmark of) in those of Pict - Celtic descent, but could also reflect Norwegian or Anglo -
The initial hypothesis, based on the available research data, is that most of the participants
who have Scottish surnames (e.g., Tulloch) should have R1b haplotypes reflecting their
"Celtic" origin on Mainland Scotland. It is possible that a few individuals with Scottish
surnames will have other haplotypes, and if so then it will reflect the fact that there was a
Scandanavian presence on the Mainland, and the genetic legacy of the Vikings may appear in
a minority of individuals with these names.
The most problematic situation will occur in an individual with an "Aboriginal Shetland"
surname (one ending in "son", etc.) when the DNA result comes back R1b. It may be
possible for the Administrator to look at the series of 12 / 12 matches (and one step mutations)
in the world - wde Haplogroup Database of Family Tree DNA (University of Arizona) and look
for a pattern of matches by country that gives a clear suggestion as to the participant's Y
origin. However, if the pattern of matches is one typically Celtic (e.g., matches in Ireland and
Protugal) this could mean: 1) that the participant's early Viking - era ancestor came from
Britain but via Norway (captive taken back to Norway after a raid on the shores of Britain); 2)
that their ancestor was a Norse Viking whose ancestors migrated to Norway a few thousand
years earlier; 3) that the R1b profile reflects descendancy from the Aboriginal Picts of
Shetland who may have been there for 4000 years; or, that a non - paternal event (e.g., a
Scottish paternal line due to "illegitimacy") occurred at some point after 1469. Among the
only pattern so far seen to have a geographical link is DYS390=23, DYS391=11 which points
to a Germanic or Scandanavian origin. However see the above discussion of the markers S21
and S28. Even here one must be careful since a recent mutation from DYS390=24 to 23 could
explain the pattern better than a geographical attribution. A few of the Aboriginal Shetland
surnames have haplotypes that are identical to those that are overwhelmingly most frequent in
certain regions of Norway (according the the Forensic User's YHRD database). In these
instances a tentative attribution can be made that the ancestor was from Western of Northern
Norway - to date the only two locations where this pattern can be observed - and which fits
with the probable location of the R1b emigrants from Norway in the 800s.
A haplogroup which "should" make an appearance, but seems to be mysteriously absent in
the Northern Isles, is N3 ("Tat") which is characteristic of the Saami and Finns (50% or
more), but seen in only about 7% of Norwegians. Still, it is unclear why it is very seldom been
observed in the regions colonized by the Norse - suggesting perhaps a late (post Viking - era)
arrival of N3 in Norway.
One of the goals of the present Project is to look for evidence of Pict survival in present - day
Shetlanders. To date it is not known whether the Norse Vikings completely displaced the
Picts of the Islands - however it is very likely that if remenants in the form of descendants of
these pre - Norse peoples have survived to the present day in the male line, they will be R1b
or, considerably less likely, I1c - however, due to their long residence (pre-Norse times), they
would probably have "son" (Aboriginal Shetland) names like their Norse neighbours.
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