My DNA results are in. My maternal ancestors (traced through mitochondrial DNA) have been in the British Isles (74%) and Scandinavia (24%) for the past ten thousand years. This part of my DNA most closely resembles that found in Ireland and Scotland, where lots of Scandinavians (Danes, Vikings) settled among the Gaelic and earlier populations.
As you’d expect, the line goes back to West Asia before that and eventually to Africa. I’m 1.2% Neanderthal (compared to 2.1% average). This is part of National Geographic’s Genographic Project, which collects data from members of the public and uses it not only to inform individuals, but to learn more about ancient patterns of migration and settlement.
Also in the news: A few weeks ago, researchers following clues from satellite images found what appear to be traces of a Viking settlement in North America, three hundred miles farther south than the one already known. Both are in Newfoundland, but the one found in 1960 was on the northern tip and this one is at the southwestern end. The two sites are similar in style of construction and evidence of iron works.
DNA and satellite technology are expanding our knowledge of long ago. As technology advances, it will be fascinating to see what else it will tell us about the past.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.