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 DNA

NEW Scottish Origenes Ethnicity map of Scotland 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 common male ancestor with you. It is simply a matter of when that shared ancestor once lived, and as a rule, the more markers/DNA mutations you share the more recent that shared male ancestor once lived. However, the surnames of those males that you match often differ from yours, and that is because the shared ancestor may have lived before surnames first appeared (which in Scotland was 1,000 years ago). What you are in fact seeing among your closest Y-DNA matches is a snapshot of the surnames that arose among related males living in a specific Scottish location. Since Scottish surnames still concentrate in the area they first appeared, one can examine the surnames that appear in one’s Y-DNA results, identify an area common to all, and pinpoint your Scottish origin! For example, a male named ‘Bell’ is a Y-DNA match to others names Bell, together with males named Elliott, Johnstone, Irving, and Armstrong; all of which localise to Dumfriesshire in Southern Scotland. Surnames of Dumfriesshire

Each of over 300 randomly selected Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies have a Pinpointed Scottish origin (based on their closest Y-DNA surname matches). However, more distant matches reflect older shared ancestry, and they can reveal the ethnicity of one’s paternal ancestors. For example, Mr. Bell’s more distant Y-DNA matches are a mix of Scottish, English, Welsh, and Irish surnames which indicates he is descended from the Brythonic Celts whose Y-DNA signature dominates much of Great Britain and Ireland. In contrast, a male named 'McDonald' has lots of distant matches to males with Scandinavian surnames which reflect an earlier Viking origin within Southwest Norway. What the Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies reveal is that the modern Scots are a diverse bunch descended from Neolithic farmers, Celts (Brythonic/Pictish/Gaulish), Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Viking, and Normans. 

Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies The Y-DNA results reveal that about 1% of Scottish males are descended from Neolithic farmers who arrived in Scotland in around 4,000BC. However, it is the Celts that dominate Scotland, accounting for almost 80% of Y-DNA signatures. While all Celts have a Central European origin, not all Scottish Celts are the same. The most numerous are the Ancient Britons/Brythonic Celts who are descended from the earliest Celts to arrive in Britain from the Rhine River Valley in Central Europe from around 800BC. The Celts would arrive in waves, with the last group arriving as Gaulish refugees as a results of the Roman Conquest of Gaul (50BC). One such Gaulish group would seek refuge in the Highlands and Islands (becoming the Scots Gaels) while the other would colonise Southwest Scotland and neighbouring Northeast Ireland (becoming the Scots Irish). The Y-DNA Case studies also reveal a considerable amount of Roman DNA centred upon Dumfriesshire in the south and Central Scotland, the result of colonisation by the Romans after 71AD. 

With the collapse of Roman Britain, the Scots Gaels of the Isle of Skye (‘Scithis’ on Ptolemy’s map of the ancient world) would leave their island refuge and conquer much of modern Scotland. Simultaneously, the Anglo-Saxons would arrive in the southeast, although only a solitary Y-DNA Case Study was found to demonstrate possible deeper origins within the Anglo-Saxon heartland of Northern Germany. 

The next group of people to arrive were the Vikings, and a surprising 10% of Scottish males have Viking origins. It would be the Vikings under the Norwegian King ‘Magnus Barelegs’ who, together with Gaelic Irish allies would conquer Galloway in the southwest. The Y-DNA case studies reveal that the Vikings and Gaels would split their conquered Galloway lands with the Irish Gaels settling to the west of the River Nith, and the Vikings to the east. The Irish Gaels are distinct from their Gaulish/Gaelic kin of the Highlands and Scots Irish neighbours, in that their descendants carry the Irish R-M222 Y-DNA mutation. Soon after the Viking conquest of Galloway, the Normans would be invited into Scotland under David I (1121AD -). The Y-DNA Case Studies reveal that the Normans were a diverse bunch that included Bretons like the ‘Stewarts’ from Brittany (descended from Brythonic Celts from Southwest England who colonised Northwest France), Flemings and French. 

The case studies also reveal that there is no Irish origin for the ‘Scots!’ It was the descendants of Gaulish refugees who sought ultimate refugee on the Isle of Skye (the ‘Scithis Gaels’ / Scottish Gaels) who would ultimately unite the diverse people who lived in Medieval Scotland. The remarkable fact is that not only the royal line, but the whole history -and mythology-of the Scots was accepted as the heritage of all the people from the Tweed to the Pentland Firth. By the reign of Alexander III (1249 – 1286), it is clear, Picts and Britons, Scandinavians, Angles and Normans had all alike laid aside their own particular memories of the past and had come to regards the past of the Scots as their heritage. As the Kingship symbolised this acceptance of a common past, it was an important unifying factor in Scottish life. It was one of the few things contributed by Western Highland Scotland to the Scottish state, and one of the few things that linked the Highlanders with the Lowlanders (Scottish Kings, Gordon Donaldson, pg. 15).

What will your DNA reveal? Contact Scottish Origenes for a FREE CONSULTATION. Click here to read a sample of one of over 300 Scottish Y-DNA Case Studies that were used to make the new Scottish ethnicity map. 


Irish Origenes

English Origenes