While there does not appear to be any studies specifically devoted to the mtDNA of
individuals residing on the Shetland Islands, a few studies have included the nearby
Orkney Islands (which has a similar history).  It is to those studies that we must turn
to obtain a glimpse at what is likely to be found in relation to the Shetland Islands.

James F. Wilson et al., 2001

The conclusion of this article was that the "similarity of the non - Basque European
Populations means that there is no power to apportion the Orcadian maternal heritage
into Scandanavian and pre - Anglo-Saxon Bristish components by using the avalable
mtDNA data".  In other words, all European populations are very similar (and in
many cases virtually identical) in terms of the percentage of each mtDNA haplogroup
- and there is nothing in particular to distinguish the maternal lineages of the Orkney

Agnar Helgason et al., 2001

Table 3 in this article shows the percentage of each haplogroup (e.g., J2) in a variety
of populations including Ireland, Scandanavia, Scotland, and Orkney.  It is apparent
on visual inspection that the populations are very similar - for example each has
between 4 to 5% of haplogroup K.  In all of these populations, haplogroup H is the
most common (about 40% of each of the above populations).

Through a complex statistical analysis, however, it was possible to estimate the
percentage of Scandanavian and Gaelic ancestry in Orkney versus three parts of
Scotland - the Western Isles, Skye, and the NW Scottish coast - as presented in
Table 4.  The latter three were virtually identical with about 12% Scandanavian and
88% Gaelic maternal ancestry.  Orkney, however, differed quite dramatically from
the other three Scottish locations having approximately 35% Scandanavian and 65%
Gaelic contribution to the maternal genetic pool - virtually identical to Iceland.

Sarah Goodacre et al., 2005

This article is in a sense an extension of the above work.  The authors explore the
Scandinavia and British / Irish ancestral (Y-DNA and mtDNA) contribution to the
present day populations of Shetland, Orkney, Scottish Northwest coast, Western
Isles and Skye and Iceland.  The findings in relation to Shetland (with a sample size of
503) point to a 43% Scandinavian contribution and 57% British / Irish contribution.  
The former figure is higher than any of the above noted populations.  For example
Iceland showed only a 34% Scandinavian and 66% British / Irish component to the
population; and Orkney the figures were 31% and 69%.  It will be important to
examine the sepecific sequences used to make this determination (see below for
summary).  Again, a statistical analysis using formulae that have embedded in them
certain assumptions which may or may not be met make these results tenuous.  There
is no specific haplogroup that characterizes Scandinavia over British / Irish in the
same sense as R1a is clearly a marker of a Scandinavia presence.  To download this
click here.
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Note:  The above represent but a small sample of the research articles on mtDNA.  
Most of the published papers will be found in the "Library" section of the following

HVR1 Sequences from Goodacre 2005 Study of 503 Shetland Sequences

H-CRS = 103         HV = 1                 I = 6                T = 14
H = 69                   HV2 = 3               J = 35              T1 = 3
H-Other = ?          U4 = 9                  J1a = 1            T2 = 15
H1a = 12               U5 = 31                J1b1 = 11
H1b = 1                 U5a1 = 11             J2 = 2
H1f or HV = 5       U5a1a = 2             K = 16
H5 = 18                 U5b = 1                K2 = 2
H6 = 7                   L2 = 2                 W = 1
V = 13                   L3e = 1                X = 3
The above table was constructed with the assistance of Dr. Ann Turner and Dr. Jim
The assignments are based only on HVR1 sequences whereas proper work of this
nature requires HVR2 as well as coding region data which was not available for this
study.  Thus the above is a reasonable "guestimate" but nothing more.