|SHETLAND ISLANDS MITOCHONDRIAL DNA PROJECT
Overview of Project:The above project is a "companion" to the Y - Chromosome Surname Project for the same geographical area. The Y -
Chromosome is inherited only by males and only from their biological fathers. Therefore studies of this nature are in essence exploring the paternal
lineage only. In order to study a maternal lineage, it is necessary to turn to mitochondrial (mt) DNA which is inherited by both sons and
daughters from their mother, but can only be passed to the next generation by the daughters. This type of DNA provides an idication of the deep
(anthropological) ancestry of a person in the female line (mother, maternal grandmother and so on back to the "Mitochondrial Eve" who resided in
East Africa about 140,000 years ago). There are in the order of 10 major groupings (e.g., the Project Administrator, whose deepest known
maternal ancestry is from Sterlingshire in Scotland is Haplogroup "K"), who are the ancestors of virtually everyone of maternal European descent.
The present Project offers particicants who can demonstrate that their maternal lineage originates in the Shetland Islands the opportunity to
determine which of the "daughters" or "clans" is that of their ancient ancestor. In addition to this anthropological use of the DNA information,
with more detailed testing it is possible to use the data for genealogical purposes if the goal is to locate "cousins" of whatever degree in the
female line - especially in a "compact" and relatively homogeneous region such as the Shetland Islands.
While it is commonly known that the Y - Chromosome is one of the 46 chromosmomes found in the nucleus of most cells in the body,
mitochondrial DNA is entirely different. It is found as a cell inclusion throughout the cell - since its purpose is to act as a mini energy packet that
helps to power the sundry functions of the cell. There are thousands or these bacteria - like organelles in each cell (again, each one coming from
Shetland Heritage via mtDNA: On of the most vexing qustions in the history and heritage of Orkney and Shetland is, "What happened to the Pictish
peoples who supposedly occupied the Islands when the Vikings arrived on the scene?" The scenarios include the abandonment of the Islands, the
quiet merging of the two peoples, the purposeful elimination of the males, the destruction of the entire population of aboriginal Picts. While the
Y-DNA may help answer this controversial question, it is the Administrator's hypothesis that the Vikings took local women as wives and so there
should be mtDNA patterns that are unique to the Islands, with similar but not identical motifs found in the Pictish stronghold on the Mainland of
Scotland - but no evidence at all of any of thse signatures in the population of Norway. This form of testing has the very real possibility of
answering a question that has eluded archaeologists, linguists, and historians.
Testing Options: Two types of mtDNA testing is available. If an understanding of one's "deep" ancestry is the objective then HRV1 testing is
sufficient; but if potential genealogical questions are of interest, then HVR2 (mtDNAPlus) is recommended. For a more detailed description of
these options, please contact the Administror at the e-mail address below.
Decision to Participate: All participants will be eligible for discounted prices as negociated with the company and lab that will be doing the testing
Family Tree DNA. Please contact the Project Administrator at the e-mail address below to make arrangements for the testing, and to provide the
Administrator with details of your maternal genealogical link to the Shetland Islands.
Data to be Included on Website: Once the participant's results are returned from the lab, the data (Haplogroup such as "H" (Helena) and specific
motif (mutations / substitutions from the reference standard in the form of numbers and a letter) is put on the website with the kit number of the
participant, and details about the earliest known maternal ancestor (name, date and place of birth). Also included will be the results of the
Administrator's examination of the participant's signature in relation to what is found in the world - wide databases noted elsewhere on this site
(e.g., most of matches from say Orkney). If an interpretation is warranted (e.g., that the signature seems aboriginal to the Northern Isles), this too
will be included.
Microscopic view of a single mitochondrion, of which
there are thousands in each cell of the body (e.g., the skin
cells obtained by mouth swab for DNA analysis) - each one
coming from the mother. who inherited it from her mother
and so on back to the "Mitochondrial Eve".
Access the Research on Shetland
Access the Shetland Y-DNA
Administrator: David K. Faux