Latest Blog Posts

The latest talk by Dr Tyrone Bowes at Scottish Origenes can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here. The holy grail of Academic Ancient DNA research is to accurately date the rate at which Y-DNA... More
My first talk since Covid was given at the end of March 2023 at Kihleeshil and Clonaneese Historical Societies Community Centre in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland! The talk 'Rewriting the history of... More
THE hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies completed at Scottish Origenes have facilitated the production of the Scottish Origenes ethnicity map (pictured). Each Y-DNA Case Study has a pinpointed origin and... More
Research at Scottish Origenes has revealed that about 20% of Scottish surnames are exclusive to a single location within Scotland. Since Scottish surnames are often a genealogical record of one’s... More
Introduction (Updated September 2022) 17th Century Gaelic Ulster was one of the last redouts of the ancient Celtic world. A world that had been eclipsed in Mainland Europe by the Romans over a... More
A simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test ONLY explores the paternal line, and it can therefore be used to pin one’s direct male ancestors to specific locations at specific time points in... More
A surprise finding from 10 years of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies was the considerable number of males with Mediterranean-associated Y-DNA Haplogroups. Intriguingly, each Scottish Origenes Y-... More
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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Scottish and Irish DNA Compared

Reconstructed Ethnicity map of Scotland and Ireland 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 Origenes have revealed lots of shared ancestry among males with Scottish or Irish origins. However, the belief that the Scots were an Irish tribe that invaded and conquered Scotland does not hold true. If it did, then the Scottish Gaels that dominate the Highlands and much of the Western Isles would have distant Y-DNA matches to males with Irish surnames, they simply don’t (Scottish surnames dominated throughout Scots Gael Y-DNA results).
What the Y-DNA studies reveal is that the Gaels that dominate the west of Scotland and the northern half of Ireland arrived in Britain as refugees from the Roman Conquest of Gaul (50BC – 100AD) and sought ultimate refuge in either Scotland (Scots Gaels) or Ireland (Irish Gaels) as the Romans advanced throughout Britain. However, there is one group of Gaels, termed the ‘Scots Irish’ (I-M223) that span both countries (Southwest Scotland and Northeast Ireland). The fact that I-M223 accounts for almost 8% of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies (compared to 3% of Irish Case Studies) would indicate that the Scots-Irish have a Scottish origin (and that Scottish Gaels carried the I-M223 mutation into Ireland).   

The Gaulish warriors (and their families) had sought refuge among their distant cousins; the Ancient Britons (Brythonic Celts) who dominated Britain and Ireland at that time, and it is the Ancient Britons that still dominate the genetic makeup of both Scotland (44%) and Ireland (50%) plus Wales and much of England. In fact, the Ancient Britons are most notably represented today by the Welsh, no surprise either that surnames that reflect Ancient Briton origin are evident in Scotland and Ireland as Wallace, Walsh, Welsh, and Barton (Dumbarton 'fort of the Britons')! The Ancient Britons of Ireland and Scotland were themselves a mixed group with shared ancestry evident among tribal groups in both countries (requiring a separate blog). 

The Ancient Britons that Julius Caesar encountered and described were descended from Celts who emerged from modern Bohemia in the Czech Republic, spread throughout Europe, sailing down the Rhine into Britain and Ireland. The Celts would have encountered a population descended from the (Neolithic) first farmers. History tells us that first contact between groups of people who have developed separately over hundreds/thousands of years can be disastrous, and the fact that less than 1% of Scots and 4% of Irish males carry a Neolithic Y-DNA marker means that disease (and warfare) decimated the Neolithic population once the Celts arrived. A similar process would have seen the Neolithic’s obliterate the Stone Age inhabitants of Britain and Ireland thousands of years earlier.   

Unsurprisingly no Roman Y-DNA can be found among males with an Irish Y-DNA signature, when it is found in Ireland it is among the Plantation Lowland Scots and English who poured into Ireland in the early 17th Century. In fact, almost 4% of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies have exotic Roman/Mediterranean-associated Haplogroups which lead back to either Dumfriesshire or Central Scotland (close to Hadrians wall and the Antonine wall). The collapse of Roman Britain (4th Century AD) created a vacuum that would be filled by the Scots Gaels who emerged from the Isle of Skye, the Scots Irish in the Southwest (returning from an exile in Ulster/Northeast Ireland?), and Anglo-Saxons who would invade Southeast Scotland (although identifying Anglo-Saxon DNA is a challenge and appears quite rare).

The next major input of paternal Y-DNA into Scotland and Ireland came from the Vikings (800AD), who surprisingly account for 11% of Scottish Y-DNA Case Studies (compared to 2% of Irish). Even more surprising is the fact that Viking Y-DNA is found throughout Scotland but appears centred upon Donegal in Northwest Ireland. While the Viking Age ended in England at the Battle of Hastings in 1066AD, Vikings were still active nearly 40 years later in Scotland. In around 1100AD Magnus Barelegs (King of Norway) was reasserting his control over his Scottish and Irish lands and laying claim to new lands in Southwest Scotland. What Y-DNA Case Studies reveal is that Magnus recruited a mixed army of Norse and Irish Gaels (R-M222) and conquered what would become Galloway (land of the foreign ‘Irish’ Gael). Magnus died in suspicious circumstances in Ireland, and the Irish Gaels and Vikings divided Galloway between them using the River Nith as their boundary. Today, almost 14% of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies will reveal an Irish Gael R-M222 marker, a direct results of this Viking Age swan song. Many of the descendants of the Irish Gaels of Galloway would return to Ireland in the 17th Century but as English-speaking Protestant Lowland Scots, whose descendants would, after a couple of generations, depart for the Americas as 'Scots Irish' or 'Ulster Scots.'

While the Normans would be invited into Scotland, they would attempt to Conquer Ireland. In both countries nearly 6% of Y-DNA Case Studies show Norman Y-DNA. In Scotland, the most notable Norman ‘Stewarts’ turn out to be the descendants of Bretons (Ancient Britons from Southwest England who colonised Northwest France in around 400AD). So, upon Y-DNA testing the Breton-Stewarts show distant Y-DNA matches to many of the notable Lowland Border clans and families of Southern Scotland (reflecting their shared Ancient Briton origin). 

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