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Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish... More
What do >300 Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies reveal about the modern Scots? October 2021. The Y-DNA test explores the male paternal line, and anyone you match upon Y-DNA testing shares a... More
In 2021 Scottish and Irish Origenes launched a new FREE website ( dedicated to the Origenes maps series, where one can zoom in and explore the surnames, clans, castles, and DNA... More
(February 3rd 2021). When commercial DNA testing began it focused completely on Y-DNA STR testing. While Y-DNA STR results can routinely be used to pinpoint a paternal origin, the STRs themselves, as... More
In June 2018 Irish Origenes was commissioned to do a Y-DNA Case Study report for a Mr David McGinnis from Oregon in the USA. In that report (based exclusively on his commercial Y-DNA test results)... More
UPDATED October 2020, NEW (6th) McDonald Case Study Added! The McDonald surname is probably one of the most famous, spawning one of the world’s most notable brands. It is also one of the most common... More
The challenge with modern commercial ancestral mtDNA testing is linking a specific maternal Eve with a precise geographical location. However, pinpointing an origin for one’s direct female ancestor... More
The Autosomal DNA test is by far the most popular commercial ancestral DNA test worldwide (tests like’s, 23andMe, MyHeritage and FTDNA's Family Finder). BUT are you really getting the... More
Previous Scottish Origenes research has revealed how the Irish and Scottish Gaels share a common origin within the Rhineland of Central Europe, and that the progenitors of both groups sought refuge... More
The first ever Plantations Surnames of Ireland map has been completed just in time for the Back to Our Past Event in Belfast in 2019. The map details the precise location where farmers with each... More
Commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing has revealed that up to 40% of all Scottish males (and males with paternal Scottish ancestry) will have a Gaelic origin (the Y-DNA test only explores the paternal... More
Step I: When the Gaelic surname 'MacMichael' becomes Norman 'Mitchell' A change in ‘cultural identity’ can be quite rapid (think modern Americans who are a mix of almost every nation on the planet)... More
Ireland is one of Scotland's closest neighbours, and their shared heritage runs deep; it is reflected in surnames (Mac or Mc?), language (Gaelic) and not to forget their national drink (Whisky or... More
Anybody who has taken a simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test (which only explores your paternal ancestry) will potentially have matched many people with lots of different surnames, and... More
Don Anderson, who is an adoptee from Oregon, has released a book which is a must read for all adoptees wishing to uncover the identities of their birth parents. Its also a must read for anyone... More
The DNA does not lie and upon commercial ancestral DNA testing the people who appear as a genetic match to you share a common ancestor with you, it is merely a matter of when that shared ancestor... More
A Sample DNA Case Study which shows how the NEW Scottish Origenes Surnames, Clans, Castles and DNA maps can be used together with a simple painless commercial ancestral DNA test to rediscover your... More
DETAILING the origin of approximately 4,000 different Scottish surnames, the Medieval territories of 400 of the most prominent Scottish Clans and Families, and the precise location of 1000 Scottish... More
Surname distribution mapping reveals that the Graham surname is associated with Scotland and bordering English Counties. Since farmers with each surname still concentrate in the area where one’s... More
The beauty with the DNA approach to researching one’s ancestral origin is that the DNA does not lie! The area identified in an Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh Origenes personalised DNA report can... More
Surnames evolve over both time and distance, and change usually at the whim of an administrator who simply records an unfamiliar surname as he hears it. In this manner similar sounding surnames... More
At Family Tree DNA’s  annual conference in 2012 I presented results demonstrating that the Scottish 'Valentines' were descended from a MacGregor who had changed his surname sometime in the early... More
I’ve been busy recently doing Case Studies and working on a Surnames and Y-DNA Map of Scotland (previewed here). But this Valentine Case Study is one of my all-time favourites and I’d like to share... More
Sometimes a quite remarkable Y-DNA Case Study comes along that I will try my best to get published in a Genealogical magazine. The latest one published in Family Tree Magazine details the Paterson... More
Every successful Irish, Scottish, or English Origenes Case Study tells an interesting story, some like the Durkin Case Study are easy to solve, others like the MacKenzie Case Study which features in... More
I was a guest speaker for Family Tree DNA at the 2013 Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London. The slides for that talk can now be downloaded by CLICKING HERE. This is my second set of talks... More
I was invited by the world’s largest commercial ancestral DNA testing Company 'Family Tree DNA' to give a talk entitled 'Pinpointing a Geographical Origin' at their 8th Annual Genetic Genealogy... More
The Royal house of Scotland sprang from the Kings of the Scots, who constituted only one of the 6 peoples inhabiting the modern lands of Scotland. Yet when Kenneth, son of Alpin, united the Picts and... More
When one thinks of Scottish surnames, one almost always thinks of those that begin with Mc’ or Mac.’ This is an over simplification as Scottish surnames are quite diverse and reflect the various... More
Scotland was first settled roughly 10,000 years ago after the end of the last ice age. The first reference to the people of Scotland comes from Roman sources that referred to the people north of... More

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The Isle of Skye ‘the Genetic Heartland of the Scots’

Previous Scottish Origenes research has revealed how the Irish and Scottish Gaels share a common origin within the Rhineland of Central Europe, and that the progenitors of both groups sought refuge from Roman Conquest within Britain. However, the subsequent Roman conquest of Britain forced them ever further north, with the ancestors of the Scots Gaels crossing the Firth of Forth and the Clyde Estuary into the Highlands of Northern Scotland, and the ancestors of the Irish Gaels crossing into Ireland (to read about that journey click here). Further recent BigY SNP testing has revealed that it was in the Isle of Skye that the ancestors of the Scottish Gaels would ultimately settle.

For those males that carry a Scottish Gael Y-DNA genetic signature, their most distant genetic matches in the BigY DNA test results will be dominated by Scottish surnames like Campbell, Stewart, MacDonald, MacPhersons, MacKay and Robertsons (see attached BigY500 results image). Those surnames are DNA linked through a definitive shared paternal ancestry; those surnames literally arose among a tribal group of related males living in a specific part of Scotland. Since Scottish surnames still concentrate in the area that they first appeared, one can examine the origin of the Campbell, Stewart, MacDonald, MacPhersons, MacKay and Robertsons surnames and identify an area common to all. When that is done, it leads ultimately to the ‘Isle of Skye.’ It is the Isle of Skye which marks the epicentre of the Scottish Gaelic male. More precisely, it was on the northern tip of the Isle of Skye that a Celtic Proto-Gael tribal group finally found refuge from Roman Conquest (see attached Surnames of Skye image, taken from the Surnames of Scotland map click here). How many settled in Skye nearly 2,000 years ago is unknown, but their DNA reveals that they were a closely related group, with families, including warriors, wives, and children all from a tribal area between the Moselle and Rhine Rivers in Central Europe.

The Isle of Skye is interesting for a number of reasons, it is marked ‘Scithis’ on Ptolemys map which was produced nearly 2,000 years ago (see attached Medieval reproduction of Ptolemys Britain and Ireland image). On Ptolemys map, the Isle of Skye is literally on the edge of the known world, and therefore an ideal refuge from Rome. The Isle of Skye may also explain the confusion that has arisen regards the origin of the Scots, who traditionally have always been regarded as a tribal group from Ireland who invaded and conquered mainland Scotland. The massive flaw in that theory is that Gaelic Scottish males have absolutely no DNA evidence whatsoever to show an earlier origin within Ireland (think about it, if they did, then their most distant BigY matches would be dominated by Irish surnames like Murphy, O’Connor and O’Neill). It makes more sense that the Ancient Britons, Picts, Romans and later Anglo-Saxons who first encountered these Gaelic speaking raiders named them ‘Scots’ in reference to that big island off the Scottish west coast known as ‘Scithis.’

How the Isle of Skye (Scithis) became confused with Ireland (Hibernian) is a mystery. While the Irish and Scottish Gaels share a common origin (Rhineland) language (Gaelic), Surnames (Mac/Mc), sport (Hurling/Shinty) and national drink (Whiskey/Whisky), it is the Isle of Skye, among all the islands of Western Scotland that features most prominently in Irish mythology and folklore (in the Ulster Cycle the champion Cúchulainn travels to the Isle of Skye to learn the art of combat). This shared folklore implies that the Gaels in Ireland and on the Isle of Skye were well aware of their shared origin, and of their common exile to Islands off the coast of mainland Britain. Intriguingly, the Scottish Gaelic Clan Chattan, whose territory lay on the mainland to the east of Skye, have a origin folklore that claims descent from the ‘Catti’ who were a tribe of Gauls who had been driven out by the Romans (which is remarkably similar to the story revealed by the DNA of the Scottish Gaels). 

The Gaels on the Isle of Skye would thrive in their island hideaway; using their island home to raid the Roman settlements throughout Britain. They would later convert to Christianity through contact with their Gaelic cousins from Ireland, and with the collapse of Roman Britain, the Scithis Gaels would pour out from their island home and conquer and settle throughout the Highlands and much of the Scottish Lowlands. When it was time for uniting the nation, it was the Kingship and Folklore of the 'Scithis' or 'Scots' that would be adopted by the new rainbow 'Scottish/Scithis' nation of Gaels, Britons, Roman settlers, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Norse and Normans. Not bad for a bunch of refugees from Central Europe. Contact Scottish Origenes (CLICK HERE) to find out about commercial ancestral DNA testing or for a FREE CONSULTATION on your DNA results.

Irish Origenes

English Origenes