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from an unpublished database makes a similar, but less specific, contribution.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.

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

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:

Haplogroup                                           DYS Numbers

Old              New             388   393   392   19(394)   390   391         + or - 1

HG1             Rb1               12     13    13        14       24     11

HG2               I                 14      13    11        14       22     10

HG3             R1a              12      13     11       16       25     11


ORKNEY        >    Rb1  =  66%    I   =   14%     R1a   =   20%    Other  =   0%
NORWAY      >                26%              44%                   22%                    8%
FRIESLAND   >                56%              29%                    3%                   12%
IRELAND       >                89%               9%                     0%                    2%
WALES          >                89%               6%                     0%                     5%
BASQUE        >                 90%               8%                     0%                    2%

R. Spencer Wells et al. 2001 Article

An article exploring 49 Eurasian populations, included an Orkney sample of 26 men.  Results:

ORKNEY       >     R1b  =  65%      I  =  08%       R1a  =  27%       Other  =  0%

** See Page 2 for the results of other research reports on the haplogroups of Shetland.