Y - Chromosome DNA Studies of the Shetland and Orkney Islands. Unfortunately, there are apparently no studies of the Y - Chromosome DNA of Shetland Islanders which are linked to surnames. Furthermore, it appears that there are few databases relating to the Islands that are available. If there is no DNA - surname data, the second best thing is to have information about haplogroup percentages which would in turn help provide an estimate of the percent of Norse, pre - Norse, and Scottish contribution to the paternal ancestry of the Islands. A recent published study provides this information on 63 Shetland males, and data from an unpublished database makes a similar, but less specific, contribution. The most recent study has some flaws that make direct comparisons difficult but estimates possible. Details of these reports are found on the next page. It is important to note that since the nearby Orkney Islands have a history virtually identical to that of the Shetland Islands (the two being part of the Earldom of Orkney), it is likely that the population structure of both groups of islands are very similar, and therefore studying what is known about the Orkney Islands will likely shed light on the Shetland Islands - although available data suggests that the Norse contribution is stronger in Shetland than Orkney.
1) James F. Wilson et al., 2001 Article. The data from the following study will be summarized below: James F. Wilson et al., "Genetic Evidence for Different Male and Female Roles During Cultural Transitions in the British Isles", Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 2001, Vol. 98, No. 9, pp. 5078 - 5083. To download the complete article click here.
Wilson explored the Y - chromosome haplogroup cluster frequencies if samples of the populations of Turkey, Syria, Basque, Friesland, Wales, Ireland, Norway, and Orkney. The focus was on ascertaining the genetic evidence concering the cultural heritage of Orkney. It is unfortunate that the names of the categories (haplogroups) continue to change, making direct comparisons between studies challenging and sometimes imprecise. Descriptions of each haplogroup and notes about their geographical distributions follow on page 3.
Haplogroups and Associated DYS Marker Allele Scores: