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Why Bjork may really be a Scot
>From today's Telegraph
By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent
TWO of Iceland's most famous exports, Magnus Magnusson and Bjork, might
really be Scottish, a DNA study suggests.
Genetic profiles of more than 1,600 people have shown that nearly two thirds
of the women who originally settled Iceland came from Scotland rather than
Scandinavia. Iceland is thought to have been settled by Vikings in the ninth
century. It now appears that many of the male Norse settlers brought
Scottish women with them.
Researchers, led by Prof Brian Sykes at Oxford University, studied DNA from
volunteers from Scandinavia, Orkney, the Western Isles and the Isle of Skye.
They examined mitochondrial DNA, a genetic code passed from mothers to their
Studying similarities in the DNA allows scientists to put together ancient
family trees. Prof Sykes said: "The results showed that more than 60 per
cent of the women who were among the original settlers of Iceland came not
from Scandinavia but from Scotland."
Previous genetic tests have found that only 20 per cent of the original male
Icelandic settlers were Scottish. The study, published in the American
Journal of Human Genetics, found that Viking women made up 35 per cent of
the female ancestors of the inhabitants of Orkney and 12 per cent of female
ancestors of people living in the Western Isles and the Isle of Skye.
Vikings from western Norway dominated the North Atlantic from the 8th to the
11th centuries. They arrived in Shetland and Orkney from around AD 780 and
spread around the Scottish coastline to the Western Isles.
At first they raided monasteries and farms but later settled, sometimes
bringing their families from Norway and sometimes marrying local women.
Iceland was settled around AD 860.
The study suggests that Iceland was settled by Vikings who had previously
lived in Scotland with local wives, or that Icelandic Vikings raided
Scotland and took women and girls back with them.
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