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Genetic map reveals how British, Irish and European we really are

By Allan Preston

Published 29/07/2016

The map shows the genetic breakdown of people across the UK, with some surprising results
The map shows the genetic breakdown of people across the UK, with some surprising results

A DNA-based study has answered the question of how British or Irish people in Northern Ireland actually are.

The results of a test of two million people around the UK, carried out by genealogy website Ancestry, showed that on average people here are 48.49% Irish (Celtic) and 23.64% British (Anglo-Saxon).

Added to our gene pool is a French and German mix (Europe west) of 12.11%, 6.19% Scandinavian, 2.07% Spanish and Portuguese (the Iberian Peninsula), 1.24% Italian-Greek and 1.1% eastern European.

The study obtained DNA samples from participants through saliva-based home testing kits.

The technique allowed researchers to trace the ethnic make-up of people as far back as 500 years.

In England, the average citizen is 37% British, with a smaller Irish heritage of 20%.

English people have the largest French and German influence at 20.45%, and they are also 9.39% Scandinavian.

Scots are significantly closer to the Irish, with a 43.84% Celtic share mixed with 26.18% British, 13.05% from Europe west, as well as a Scandinavian element of 7.19%.

Given their geography, it is perhaps unsurprising they also have the highest Finnish-northwest Russian heritage at 1.31%

The Welsh have a more even combination, with an average British stock of 36.15%, compared to 31.99% Irish.

Wales also shows the highest Spanish and Portuguese influence than anywhere else in the UK, with a 3.21% share.

London is the UK's biggest melting pot, with the average citizen having a 33.6% British make-up, followed by 20.4% Europe west and a 19.76% Irish ancestry rate.

Elsewhere, Yorkshire has highest percentage of British ancestry at 41.17%, and east Midlands the largest Scandinavian ancestry rate at 10.37%.

The north-east of England has the heaviest Celtic connection, with an Irish ancestry of 27.58%.

Ancestry spokesman Brad Argent said that the results showed that many of us were not as British or Irish as we thought or had been told.

"At a time when the concept of British identity is at the forefront of many people's minds, it's interesting to see that when it comes to our ancestry, we're not as British or Irish as we may think," Mr Argent explained, adding that the UK had long been a meeting point of cultures from around the world.

"The UK has been a cultural and ethnic melting pot for not just generations, but centuries, and our DNA data provides a fascinating glimpse into our ancestors, including hints of immigration and emigration," he said.

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