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Researching Strong(e)s and Strang(e)s in Britain and Ireland; 2nd Edition (Rootsweb)


Sarmatian horseman. Drawing by Michail Gorelik, from R.Rolle e.a. (eds.), Gold der Steppe. Archäologie der Ukraine (1991). Sarmatian horseman.
Drawing by Michail Gorelik.

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Reivers In Full Regalia

This web page is divided into several sections. Click on the section to which you wish to jump:
Background of Border Reivers "DYS393=12" Y-DNA Study:
DNA Study Note re Blood Group B
Border Families DNA Results Chart
Discussion of the Hypothesis:
Join the Border Reiver Families DNA Study

Discussion of the Hypothesis:

This webpage is part of a collaboration between James V. Elliott, David B. Strong, and others in researching the origins of DYS393=12 as it occurs along the Anglo-Scottish Border region. Our hypothesis: Some of us have roots in a West Asian population in an identifiable subclade of R1b, which somehow got to the Anglo-Scottish border area and on to Ulster. There are other populations which share some of the same characteristics; can we learn more about each other's origins by sharing information? This question and the Hypothesis are beyond the realm of traditional genealogy, but raise legitimate issues none-the-less.

What are the candidates for "West Asian populations in identifiable subclades of R1b" which might apply to our investigation? In the GENEALOGY-DNA-L Archives, one can find the following message:

From: "Dennis Garvey"
Subject: [DNA] More about R1b subgroups
Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2003 17:44:08 -0500

Right now more than 80% of European R1bs don't belong to any of the eight known R1b subgroups. Knowledge of R1b subgroups is still at a very rudimentary stage - only a few subgroups have been identified. The eight known R1b subgroups shown on the YCC haplogroup chart do not represent any major organization among R1bs. They are really just the result of the tiny - and somewhat skewed - sampling of R1bs in which a hunt for new R1b subgroups has been done.

The process required to hunt for new biallelic markers is much more painstaking than that for just genotyping markers that have already been identified. The massive effort required to search a several thousand base long stretch of the Y chromosome has limited the search for R1b subgroups to a surprisingly small sampling of R1bs (first reported in Underhill's publication in Nature Genetics, vol 26, p. 358, 2000). Those eight R1b subgroups are based on a search among R1bs of the following nationalities: 2 or 3 Basques, 2 or 3 Italians, a Sardinian, an Australian, a Central Asian (Uzbek?), two Arabs, and maybe a German. That's not exactly the sampling that most of us genealogists would have asked for.

Here's the breakdown of the eight R1b subgroups they saw:

R1b1 (M18) - Seen in both R1b Sardinians in study
R1b2 (M37) - Australian (possibly 5% of European R1bs?)
R1b3 (M65) - 5% of Basque R1bs
R1b4 (M73) - 35% of Central Asian R1bs (seen in Uzbek?)
R1b5 (M126) - 3% of European R1bs (probably seen in an Italian)
R1b6 (M153) - 15% of Basque R1bs
R1b7 (M160) - 10% of European R1bs (probably seen in an Italian)
R1b8 (SRY-2627) - 13% of Basque R1bs

So the only reason that there is a Central Asian R1b subgroup among the eight is that an Uzbek happened to be among the small number of R1bs that were sequenced. Likewise, the disproportionate number of Basque R1b subgroups is just a result of the overly large sampling of Basques.

There are only three of the known R1b subgroups that might be of interest to most genealogists.
[Editor's Note: But see our additional discussion below, where we focus on R1b3 (ht35)] R1b7 was seen in about 10% of European R1bs. It was probably first identified in one of the Italians - but may not be limited to Italians. R1b5 was seen in about 3% of European R1bs - and was also probably first identified in one of the Italians. R1b2 is a subgroup first identified in an Australian. If it can be assumed that his paternal line was of European descent, then about 5% of European R1bs belong to this subgroup.

In the YCC nomenclature, an R1b that doesn't belong to any of the known R1b subgroups is written as R1b*. More than 80% of the European R1bs are in the R1b* category (and 65% of the Basque R1bs are also R1b*). So subgroups won't be of much interest until more of the R1b subgroups are identified. The knowledge of subgroups of other branches of the Y chromosome tree (for example YCC J2, I1b, or R1a1) is probably equally "spotty". There's a lot of research that needs to be done yet.

Similar "hunts" for new biallelic Y chromosome markers have also been conducted by Hammer and by Karafet. The 2001 Hammer study (reported in Mol Biol Evol, Vol 18, p. 1189, 2001) sequenced several stretches of Y chromosome in a worldwide selection of 57 men - including 11 Europeans. (The nationalities of the Europeans were not specified). We can probably assume that there were six or seven European R1bs among those sequenced in this study - however no new R1b subgroups were found. The markers discovered in studies by Hammer usually begin with "P" (for example P25) while those discovered by Underhill usually begin with "M" - so most of the R1b subgroups are defined by "M" markers.

The difficulties in sequencing have limited hunts for new biallelic Y markers to about 50 men in each study. These initial studies sampled men from around the world - which limited the number of Europeans in each study to only 8-10. (See Hammer and Zegura, Ann. Rev. Anthrop. vol 31, p 303-321, 2002). A similar hunt for new markers needs to be conducted among just Europeans (or preferably by European country) to gain a better understanding of the structure of R1b subgroups. So far, no such study has been published.

Here's the good news: these finer and finer subgroups are defined by mutations that have happened more and more recently in time. Up 'til now haplogroup classification has been fairly useless for pinpointing geographical origins of paternal lines because too much population movement around Europe has happened since those defining mutations occurred. But some of the soon-to-be identified subgroups may have originated recently enough that the descendants won't have moved around much in the intervening time. So someday R1b subgroups may be able to provide some geographic information to help out the ranks of us "generic" R1b*s. But we are not there yet.

Dennis Garvey
Y-Chromosome Haplogroup Website ___________________________________________________________

From the foregoing, we can see that YCC Clade R1b is being divided into various subclades based on some very small samples, and that there may be more subclades of R1b. There is a recent paper issued by Cengiz Cinnioglu, et al., in which subclade R1b3 is divided into two subgroups, denoted ht15 and ht35. The paper is partially quoted below in this message from Bonnie Schrack:

----- Original Message -----
From: Bonnie Schrack
To: David B. Strong
Cc: Bennett Greenspan (Info at Family Tree DNA) ; James V. Elliott ; Tom West
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 3:28 PM
Subject: Re: Special Request for Information

the members of the Eastern division of R1b, identified by Cinnioglu & Underhill, et al, as Ht 35 referred to in their data is the haplotype 35 of the complex 49a,b TaqI RFLP locus -- not a regular SNP polymorphism. .. that sounds terribly arcane, but it's just a different kind of genetic marker that they threw in, which was successful in dividing R1b into two groups, that are geographically clustered. The other group, in the West, has Ht 15. The authors explain this on page 10 of the paper:
Although R1b3-M269 lineages are found throughout Europe at considerable frequency (Cruciani et al. 2002), no additional PCR compatible binary markers are currently known that show additional informative subdivision within this clade. However, two TaqI haplotypes ht15 and ht35 associated with the complex RFLP 49a,f locus, are associated with R1b3-M269 lineages. The 49a,f ht15 form is rare in Turkey but common in Iberia (Semino et al. 1996), while 49a,f ht35 representatives are distributed across Europe (Torroni et al. 1990; Santachiara-Benerecetti et al. 1993; Semino et al. 2000b) and occurs at ~10% in the Balkan region (Santachiara-Benerecetti, personal communication). In an attempt to better understand the affinity of the frequent Turkish R1b3-M269 lineages relative to other regions, we have analyzed the same battery of STR loci in 52 additional R1b3-M269 defined samples from Iberia, the Balkans, Iraq, Georgia, and Turkey that were previously determined to be 49a,f ht15 or ht35, as well as an additional 59 European R1b3-M269 derived samples. STR haplotype data for these 111 samples are given in Appendix table B. Principal component analysis of all 187 R1b3-M269 samples at ten STR loci variables reveals distributions coinciding with samples of known 49a,f ht15 and ht35 constitution (Fig. 3). Most of the Turkish samples group with the Balkan and the Caucasian 49a,f ht35 samples, while the West European samples associate with the 49a,f ht15 samples. The variance of 49a,f ht35 related chromosomes are lower in the Balkan, Caucasian and Iraqi representatives than those in Turkey (Table 4). Similarly, the variance is higher in Iberia than in Western Europe. The decreasing diversity radiating from Turkey towards Southeast Europe, Caucasus and Mesopotamia approximates similar results from Iberia tracing the re-colonization of Northwest Europe by hunter-gatherers during the Holocene as suggested by others (Torroni et al. 1998; Semino et al. 2000a; Wilson et al. 2001). Cinnogli & Underhill, et al Fig. 3 Plot of 187 R1b3-M269 derived lineages against values for the initial two principal components for ten microsatellite loci variables.

The first component accounts for 19% of the total variance, whereas the second component accounts for 16%. Samples whose p49a,f ht15 (n=13) or ht35 (n=39) status is known are indicated in red and yellow, respectively. Geographic areas include: Iberia (n=27), W. Europe (n=45), Turkey (n=79), Balkans (n=21), Georgia/Iraq (n=15). W. Europe includes France, Italy, Germany, Norway; Balkans includes Albania and Greece. Large symbols represent the means for the eight groups. The one Iberian ht15 outlier reflects the influence of an unusual DYS388 allele. Both M269 and DYS388 results for this sample were confirmed by sequencing...

Close reading of the foregoing will note NO mention of the occurrence of ht 35 in the area of the Anglo-Scottish Borders. However, to date it appears no investigation for such occurrence has been made. Harkening back to Dennis Garvey's comments above, "A ... hunt for new markers needs to be conducted among just Europeans (or preferably by European country) to gain a better understanding of the structure of R1b subgroups." We hope to encourage such a hunt amongst the participants in our present study! It seems highly likely that ht35 is manifested amongst the participants in the various Surname DNA studies surveyed in the linked Border and other Families DNA Results Including DYS393=12 Chart.

But how, one might ask, would such subclade(s) get to the Anglo-Scottish Border area? There are various possible vectors, but for now, let us explore the possible influence of a group known as the Sarmatians. Who were they, and how did they get to the Anglo-Scottish Border?

From the web article Sarmatians, by Jona Lendering:

In the fifth century BCE, the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus, the author of the Histories, describes the Sauromatae as the descendants of Scythian fathers and Amazon mothers. Of course, this is a legend, but the nomadic tribe did exist and lived where Herodotus says it lived, on the plains between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, north of the Caucasus. The river Don divided the Sauromatae and the Scythians, the famous riders from Ukraine.

During the centuries after Herodotus, the Sarmatians gradually moved to the west. A first step is mentioned in a text published under the name of the sixth-century explorer Scylax of Caryanda, but in fact written in the second half of the fourth century. It refers Syrmatae west of the Don. In the mid-third century, the tribe controlled large parts of Scythia, which can be deduced from the spread of the typical Sarmatian tombs. Greek sources describe the conquered country as a desert, which may be exaggerated but testifies to the violence of the Sarmatians.

[The Sarmatians were strong enough] to demand tribute from the Greek towns on the northern shores of the Black Sea. However, relations were not always bad. The Greeks traded with their neighbors and sometimes joined forces with the tribe when they felt threatened by the Scythians. These wars were very successful. The Scythians more or less disappear from history, and their country was from now on known as Sarmatia. In the early first century, Sarmatians are mentioned as allies of king Mithradates, the ruler of several countries near the Black Sea and one of the most dangerous enemies of the Roman empire. In 66, he was defeated by Pompey the Great and expelled from Asia Minor. Mithradates continued his war from the Crimea, still supported by the Sarmatians, but was ultimately forced to commit suicide. The Sarmatians continued the anti-Roman alliance with his son Pharnaces, who was defeated in 47 by Julius Caesar at Zela ('I came, I saw, I conquered').

By definition, tribes are loosely organized societies and the Sarmatians were no exception. During their migration to the west, they had assimilated other ethnic groups and from now on, it is probably best to describe them as a federation of tribes. When, the Greek geographer Strabo of Amasia described Sarmatia, he mentioned four groups living between the rivers Dnepr and Danube. His description is schematic: the ethnic groups correspond to the four points of the compass. There must have been other tribes. The Iazyges lived in the south, on the shores of the Sea of Azov. The Urgi lived in the north on the banks of the Dnepr, in the neighborhood of modern Kiev. An ancient Scythian tribe, the Royal Scythians, was still living in the east of Ukraine and had become the most important member of the Sarmatian coalition. They and the Urgi became known as the Sarmatians. The Roxolani were moving to the west.

Sarmatian society was hierarchical. There was an aristocratic warrior elite (the argaragantes), and the real work was done by the limigantes or slaves. The tribe was still nomadic, roaming over the steppes on horseback or in covered wagons, the so-called kibitkas. Greek and Roman observers often noted that Sarmatian women did not behave as they expected: their position was better than in the Mediterranean world. The Greeks explained this strange phenomenon with the hypothesis that the Sarmatians descended from the Amazons (cf. above).

[See also the web article WHO WERE THE ALANS? by Mirfatykh Z. ZAKIEV, from his articles collection book, "TATARS: PROBLEMS of the HISTORY and LANGUAGE", translated from the original Turkish, by Norm KISAMOV, : where Zakiev presents several arguments in favor of finding the Alans were a Turkic, rather than an Indo-Iranian people. There is much useful detail.]

In the mid-first century CE, the migration to the west was resumed. In Rumania, the Dacian kingdom was in a crisis, and the Iazyges settled near the mouth of the Danube, before continuing to the east of what is now called Hungary. The Roxolani now settled on the lower reaches of the Danube, but were checked by the Roman legion III Gallica in 68/69. The Romans were content with these movements, because it weakened Dacia.

In the last decade of the first century, however, Dacia was strengthened again, and joined forces with the Sarmatians. One Roman legion, XXI Rapax, was destroyed in 92. To defend their empire, the Romans were forced to conquer territories on the north bank of the Danube. This happened between 102 and 106, when the emperor Trajan subdued the Iazyges, Dacians, and Roxolani. When he died in 117, his successor Hadrian kept Dacia; the Iazyges and Roxolani, on the other hand, received their independence again. They remained allied to the Roman empire.

During the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the Sarmatians became dangerous again. Other groups had joined the federation (e.g., the Alans), and the Romans had to fight several bloody wars against the Sarmatians and their allies, the Marcomanni. Ultimately, the Romans were successful, and for almost half a century, the Danube frontier was more or less safe. In the third century, however, the Sarmatians occupied Dacia and from now on, the war against the tribes on the north bank of the Danube was really dangerous.

However, Rome was usually victorious. In the early fourth century, the Roman emperor Diocletian resettled the Iazyges, and his successor Constantine accepted many Sarmatians as farmers on the Balkans. Those who remained north of the Danube, were destroyed by the Huns.

Note the highlited portion above, including mention of the Emperor Hadrian, he of Hadrian's Wall... the Roman Wall along the present-day Anglo-Scottish Border. See: THE ALANS (ALANI / GELONI)
"[A.D.]175 The Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, defeats the Iazyges tribe of Alans. He takes them into Roman service and settles them, with himself, in Northern Britain, at Ribchester, south of Lancaster. The Alans were assigned to the VI Legion Victrix, commanded by the Alani warlord who was renamed Lucius Artorius Castus."
In the following web article Roman Ribchester, by Steve Lassey, note mention of the fact that in archeological excavations of Ribchester - Bremetennacum Veteranorum, "The earliest inscription yet found is c. 161-169 A.D.". This approximately coincides with the date the Emperor Marcus Aurelius established a garrison of 5500 Sarmatians at Ribchester, along Hadrian's famed Roman Wall. Elementary high school Latin roughly translates "Bremetennacum Veteranorum" as "The veteran's town of Bremetenn":

The Romans built a fort at Ribchester or Ribelcastre in the Domesday Book, and called it Bremetennacum. It was a large fort with granaries and covered about six acres. F.H.Cheetham FSA in his Lancashire describes some of the early archaelogical efforts:

...relics of the Roman occupation have been recorded from time to time in the vicinity of the churchyard since the 16th cent., but until 1888, when the Rev. J. Shortt began the work, no systematic excavation of the site had ever been attempted. Since then Prof. John Garstang (1898), Mr. Thos. May (1906-08), and Profs. Anderson and Atkinson (1911), have continued the investigation of the site... The later excavations have been carried out by a Committee of the Manchester Branch of the Classical Association. ... many of the buildings which lined the W. side of the Via Principalis have been explored. "Along the roadway were found, first the flanking towers of the (N.) gateway, then two long and very narrow buildings which served as granaries, a third long building which may have been the armoury of the fort, or the barracks of some special troop, and finally the central buildings" forming the Praetorium... The earliest inscription yet found is c. 161-169 A.D. on a slab set up between the camp and the river by a detachment of the Sixth Legion from York, and the reign of Caracalla (A.D. 211) furnishes two inscriptions one on an altar and the other betokening the restoration of a temple. ....may have been occupied to 410.

In the Arthurnet Mailing List Archives there are several references to the presence of the Sarmatians at Ribchester - Bremetennacum Veteranorum. Search the Arthurnet Archives to reveal the dialog. These horsemen came from Russia, by the Danube just north of the Black sea, and fought at Hadrian's wall. There is discussion in the logs as to whether the Sarmatians left any "evidence" of their presence.

Another reference to them is contained in the footnotes of Notes on Merlin:
A contingent of 5,500 Sarmatians, close ethnic cousins of the Alans, was sent by Marcus Aurelius to northern Britain in 175 C.E. to garrison Hadrian's Wall. When these auxiliary cataphracti (heavy cavalrymen) retired from duty they were settled near the Lancashire village of Ribchester, known in Roman times as Bremetennacum Veteranorum (Littleton and Malcor 1994, 18-26, 300-303). See also Richmond (1945), Sulimirski (1970, 173-174), and Edwards and Webster (1985-1987).

Several books on Roman Britain have a picture of a silvered parade helmet used for ceremonial occasions that was recovered from Ribchester. Its crown carries embossed battle scenes and there are relief figures on the thin visor-mask. It can be seen in the British Museum. A bronze reconstruction of the helmet has been made and can be seen at the Museum of Antiquities in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Peter Salway in The Frontier People of Roman Britain states, .. the Sarmatians of Ribchester (cf. Journal of Roman Studies, London XXXV, 15ff) who seem to have been an unusual group, settled "en bloc" under a special officer. Richmond indicates that there is considerable evidence.. that these semi- barbarians did not receive the citizenship on discharge and were quite unlike ordinary veterans.

See also: The Sarmatian Connection, by János Makkay: An in-depth discussion of the Alanic Sarmatians at Ribchester.

Thus, we find a rather large group of West Asian descent retired and presumably intermingling with the local population, just south of the Roman Wall... and in position to pass their genetic heritage through many generations down to the present day. It is perhaps not too great a stretch of logic to point out the similarity of the "semi-barbarian" horse borne Sarmatian culture of old to the "Border Reiver" culture of more recent history... horse borne cavalry, armed with lance and shield, terrorizing the region.

The Alans, who were brothers to the Sarmatians, pushed into Gaul and Iberia during the last days of the Roman Empire in the West (ca. 400 - 500 C.E.), and settled extensively north of the Loire river. This area, once called Armorica, is now called Brittany. The Alans arrived at about the same time that Celtic Britons were fleeing to France after the Saxon takeover of England. The two groups intermarried extensively. The legacy of the Alans includes the French name "Alain" and its many variations, and the cultural foundation of chivalric warfare (armored knights on horseback).

See the Breton Timeline : A detailed timeline of the early history of Brittany from A.D.388-907; many mentions of the Alans, and shows a basis from which it may be inferred there was significant genetic Alanic input to the Normans prior to their invasion of England in 1066. From:"> Early Medieval Resources for Britain, Ireland and Brittany, by Michelle Ziegler:

"This page is devoted to the study of the Early Medieval Britain, Ireland, and Brittany, defined here as the period from the end of Roman Britain c400 to the first Viking attack on Britain in 793 AD. ... attempting to also provide a general resource for the period..."

Many Bretons of Alanic ancestry joined William The Conqueror in the conquest of Britain, contributing military tactics inherited from their forebears, and later spread their genetic influence across Britain into Scotland and elsewhere. It is worth noting that one of the highest frequencies of R1b Haplotype 35 anywhere in the Y-STR database is among the sample from Paris, France - which is adjacent to Normandy - and, even more so, among Americans of "Cajun" descent. "Cajun" is actually a colloquial contraction of the word "Acadian". The Cajuns, still a highly endogamous population, are descended from the French Canadian colonists of Acadia (now Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and portions of northern Maine), who were ejected by the British circa 1714 and forced to resettle in Louisiana. Historians agree that the majority of the early French Canadian settlers of both Acadia and Quebec were of Norman or Breton origin. We may safely conclude that many Scottish families who exhibit the DYS393=12 marker are as likely to be descended from the Alans who arrived with the Normans, as from the Sarmatians who came with the Romans.

In the web article "The Alans in the West" it is stated:

"In the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th centuries A.D. the Alans penetrated into a number of regions of Western Europe. In 406 A.D. they crossed the Rhine and intruded into Gallia (modern France). Here the Alans divided into two parts - one, headed by Goar, decided to go over to the Roman Empire's service, and stay in Gallia.

The Alanian States in Western Europe and Northern Africa. In 409 A.D. the other part of the Alans, with Respendial at the helm, intruded into the Pyrenean peninsula, where they formed an Alanian state. The captured lands were shared between the Alans and the German tribes of the Vandals and the Svevs taking part in the invasion.

In 416 they were followed into Spain by the numerous tribes of the Westgoths. Two years later they defeated the Alans. The Alanian Chief Addak perished in combat. With his doom the Alanian state on the Pirenean peninsula ceased to exist."

From this we can see a possible explanation how the ht35 haplotype may have arrived in Spain and subsequently in the Spanish Netherlands, which may be of interest in evaluating the DYS393=12 allele of the Probasco family, below.

The key to the Haplotype 35 hypothesis lies in establishing the area from, say, Lancashire to Galloway as a convergence zone for multiple groups with an ultimately eastern European or Eurasian origin. The Turks, Greeks and Sarmatians who served in the Roman Army; Normans descended from Alans, Visigoths, Sephardim, etc.; and, of course, the Norwegian Vikings. Probably all of these groups had a present-day influence, and each of them was in their own time, no doubt, compounded from multiple Y-DNA haplogroups even 2,000 years ago. If we can correlate a relatively high frequency of Haplotype 35 with equally elevated frequencies of, say, J2 or I1a or R1a and/or other potentially eastern European haplogroups or sub-clades, it seems that would only help our argument. On the other hand, if it turns out that Haplotype 35 shows up most often only with AMH or other Haplotype R1b's, then skeptics could easily claim that the "Haplotype 35" occurrences were just coincidental, due entirely to genetic drift or divergence from the "AMH".

How does our Hypothesis that ht35 has manifested itself amongst those individuals who have been Y-DNA tested and found to have DYS393=12 develop to the present? First, lets examine the chart we have compiled. It includes a good number of individuals who have been tested by various testing organizations; all of whom have been found to have DYS393=12 and have been classified as being a member of YCC Haplogroup R1b. There are several caveats to be made regarding the information compiled in the Border and other Families DNA Results Including DYS393=12 chart:

1) The data has been compiled in most cases from "second-hand" information. It has been gleaned from numerous sources. We can only rely on the reporters of the data for it's accuracy, and can make no guarantees. We assume no responsibility for the data of others....

2) We have attempted to identify the source of our information, and have linked the data presented to those webpages, etc., where we have gathered the information. To the extent we present and analyze the data here we do so in "fair comment" on the data; we claim no ownership of the original data and refer all inquiries concerning it to the respective administrators of the Y-DNA Surname studies involved.

3) Certain of the data comes from differing testing organizations; there may be differences in the reporting standards of the respective testing organizations which may mean certain of the data is not strictly comparable.

4) It will be noted that the various DYS393=12 participants have been grouped, mostly within their respective surnames, first by DYS393=12, and next by an attempt to relate the respective alleles of the various DYS markers to each other in what appears to be a pattern of values. This is perhaps more art than science... and one of our caveats must be a recognition that the pattern developed MAY be a result of convergence or divergence, rather than any hereditary characteristics.

5) We have attempted to gather all DYS393=12 DNA data, and then have done a preliminary sort, to try to establish whether the data fits the ht35 criteria from reviews of the Cinnogli paper, eg.: The modal haplotype in the Cinnioglu data for the R1b members who have the Eastern ht 35, seems to be: DYS19=14; DYS388=12; DYS390=24; DYS391=11; DYS392=13; and of course DYS393=12. According to Bonnie Schrack's review, "there is a good deal of variation at 390, and 391 is often 10. The crucial marker is 393, which is almost always 12 in the Eastern samples." Dennis Garvey identifies the crucial markers as DYS393=12 and DYS461=10. Unfortunately, we have no data from any testing organization reporting on the occurrence of DYS461.

Discussion with Bennett Greenspan adds the R1b criteria as being {DYS389ii=30 minus DYS389i=14) = 16}; there is probably variation in the foregoing due to mutation, such that any combination of the DYS389 formulation resulting in 16 +/- 1 resulting from the calculation fit the criteria and may be classed as R1b. Preliminary observation raised speculation that DYS459a=10 might be an identifying marker; however, so far the weight of the data collected would seem to disallow this supposition.

Note also Dr. David L. Roper's observation in Y-Chromosome Markers Families Comparisons that R1b paleolithic families exhibit as "the two markers with the greatest difference [from typical neolithic values]... DYS385a (11-14= -3) and DYS464a (16-13= +3)". When data for a new family becomes available, he uses these two markers to decide if a family belongs to the paleolithic group". In other words, if DYS385a=11, and DYS464a=16, it is likely a paleolithic family.

Some comments about our DNA findings so far amongst families of possible Border Reiver and/or Sarmatian origin: First, note inclusion of some of Professor Hammer's data found in the FTDNA database, kindly provided by Bennett Greenspan. The data included represents occurrances of DYS393=12 in samples taken from some Siberians, an Icelander, and a Hungarian. The data has come up in haplotype matches from the FTDNA database as provided for various of the participants. Each of the individuals represented by the FTDNA samples could have deep roots reaching back to the Sarmatians of western Asia... even the Icelander, who might be descended from a Sarmatian who joined the Vikings well before they discovered Iceland. Turning to the Surname Groups:

Hollingsworth: A check the Hollingsworth surname on the web reveals at least two sites citing an origin in Cheshire and Lancashire. That is definitely Sarmatian territory. The main settlement of retired Sarmatian troops was in Ribchester, and there was a major Roman settlement - complete with an amphitheater - in Cheshire. See:
There are eight DYS393=12 Hollingsworth participants. Seven of the Hollingsworth participants are R1b at present. Interestingly, one of the eight is YCC Haplogroup P. According to the definition on his FTDNA website: "P - The undifferentiated P lineage is a very rare haplogroup in populations at this time. Although it was the ancestral line to haplogroups Q and R it is only found at low frequency in India, Pakistan, and central Asia with a most likely point of origin in either central Asia or the Altai region of Siberia." Such an origin is not inconsistent with our general hypothesis of descent from Asiatic roots; perhaps as one of the general troop of Sarmatians.
Note the rather close corolation of the main Hollingsworth group with the "Ozoux/Perreault" participant, who claims a French origin... possibly with deep Alan or Sarmatian roots.
See the
Hollingsworth DNA Surname website; administrators: John Hollingsworth; Douglas Hollingsworth

Hunt: Jim Elliott has identified two English-descended Americans in the Sorensen database with these markers as well, both surnamed "Hunt". Shropshire is one of the points of origin of the English 'Hunt' surname. Shropshire is very close to Cheshire and Lancashire - and Wales. One possible origin for "Elliott" is "Heliat", which means "huntsman" or "pursuer" in Welsh. The very definition conjures up men on horseback chasing something, or someone - like, say, Sarmatian cavalrymen at full gallop. The "Hunts" could be Anglicized "Heliats". The location is also very suggestive. Again it is close to Sarmatian territory along the border marches.

Jim Elliott did some research on the very close, off-one-step-on-389ii near matches he had with two "Hunt" people in the Sorenson database. He contacted the Sorenson people who suggested he scan web genealogy sites for the exact names listed on the Sorenson entries. He did that, and discovered that those particular "Hunts" were originally Scots-Irish - not English - having settled in Hopewell, New Jersey circa 1725. He did more research on "Hunts" in Scotland. He discovered that:

"Hunt" was a common variant of the name "Hunter", which is a Scottish clan with an ancestral seat in Ayrshire. It also, as it happens, had a branch in Peebleshire, about 10 or 15 miles from the stomping grounds of the Elliotts. Moreover, there are "Hunters" that are even listed as a minor Border Reiver Clan in George McDonald Fraser's "The Steel Bonnets", with a territory in the Middle March of England. The Scots-Irish "Hunts" could have come from any of these sources.

Apparently, a wealthy man from Edinburgh named "Hunter" married one of the aristocratic "Blair" heiresses in the 1700's, and appended her surname to his own. His branch of the "Blair" family became the "Hunter Blair" branch. The "Hunter" may have been lost over time among some descendants, making the family name again simply "Blair". Thus we have a possible connection, via the Lowland Scottish "Hunts" or "Hunters", from the DYS393=12 Elliotts to the DYS393=12 Blairs.

It gets better still. The Hunters of Ayrshire reputedly came from a Norman family, residing in the Cheshire-Shropshire area, with the surname "Venator". This means "hunter" or "huntsman" in Latin, but it can also mean "skirmisher". It is also an old Roman military job description. Troops sent out into frontier to patrol were often the same troops that caught the game for the other troops to eat, as well as capturing novelty animals for Roman zoos and whatnot. They were called "Venators" - sometimes "Venator immunis", because being a hunter gave a Roman soldier certain privileges and exemptions. There was a specialized troop of Venators in service along the Hadrian's Wall at Birdoswall in Cumbria. These troops were mostly from Dacia (now Romania), which in Roman times was a hodge-podge of Goths, Sarmatians and Thracians. Many Sarmatians were probably "Venators". "Venator" was also applied to military men as an honorific. Commodus had himself dubbed "Commodus Venator". The main centurion of the Sixth Victory regiment in Roman Britain was named Lollius Venator. Interestingly, a centurion from that regiment was later tapped to command a Sarmatian cavalry unit - and it may have been the same man.

Of course, the original "Hunter" may have been given the name "Venator" as some kind of pretentious embellishment. Nonetheless, there were many "Hunters" in Northwest England, not all descended from the Norman "Venator" - but some of which may just be descended from men whose ancestors had called themselves "Venators" for generations, to recall their ancient privileged status in the Roman Army. It is worth thinking about, and it does etymologically link the Sarmatians with the latterday "Hunters" or the late medieval Borders.

There are also "Hunts" in Ireland, some of which may be Gaels whose ancestors Anglicized their surname (and therefore would probably not be Haplotype 35).
See the Hunt DNA Surname website; Administrator: D. Hunt.

Strong: This could be a foreshortened version of "Armstrong", one of the Border Reiver clans. Participants in the study have identified as probable ancestors two "Strongs" found in the 1665 Hearth Money Rolls of County Donegal, Ireland. The area around Donegal Bay was settled by Scots from Wigtownshire, in Galloway, well within our area of study.
See the
Strong DNA Surname website; administrator: Dave Strong

Blair: This rather large group of at least 20 participants matches fairly closely the "Donegal Bay Strongs" previously discussed, giving rise to some speculation there may be a connection, even if one has to go back in time more than a thousand years. Again, the Blair surname is found in the Scottish Border region. Group 1 is believed to descend from the Blair of Blair. The Blair of Blair go back to approximately 1200 when Jean Francois, a Norman, was granted Barony of Blare by King William, between 1165 and 1200. The descendants of Jean Francois are believed to the first Blairs.
See the
Blair Group One DNA Surname website; administrator: John Blair

Kerr: Again we have an example of the haplotype on which we have been collecting data in the area of Southern Scotland and Northern England, which our hypothesis leads us to believe is Haplotype 35, or the "eastern division" R1b modal haplotype, which many believe took refuge during the Ice Age in the Balkans - rather than in the Pyrenees, like its brother, AMH (with its DYS393=13). We attribute the spread of this haplotype into Western Europe to the migrations of Eastern Germanic tribes (e.g., Goths, Vandals, Suevi, Rugians, Heruls), Turkic nomads (e.g., Alans and Sarmatians), Vikings, etc. We have found it among various individuals apparently descended from Hiberno-Norse family groups. This haplotype is definitely consistent with the reputed Norse origin of the Kerr surname ("Kjarr").

Elliott: The Elliott participant also traces to County Donegal, Ireland, and probably back to Wigtownshire in the Galloway and Borders region. See the discussion in the Armstrong, Elliott and other Border Reivers Y-DNA Study website; Administrators: James V. Elliott & David B. Strong. (This patrilineal Y-DNA surname study is designed to test the Y-DNA profiles of members of the various Border Reiver families found along the Anglo-Scottish Border, including descendants of "transplants" to Ulster, the United States, Canada, Australia, and around the world. The focus of the study includes families listed on the surname list of the Border Reivers website. )

Probasco: This surname seems not to be associated with the Anglo-Scottish Border, but rather has a Dutch origin, with speculations of roots in either the Basque region of Spain or in Poland. Either place of origin might be consistent with an ht35 subclade. What may be significant about this surname group is their possible origin in areas which may have been settled by either the Sarmatians or the Alans... with a genetic signature very similar to that observed in the Anglo-Scottish Border region and here hypothesized to descend to us from the Sarmatians. It is also most interesting to observe the similarity to the Hammer Hungarian results provided by FTDNA.
See the
Probasco DNA Surname website; administrator: Nora Probasco. See particularly the page on Origins of the Probasco Surname. Jim Elliott notes,

in my DYS393=12 survey of the YSTR database, [See: FREQUENCY OF R1b HAPLOTYPES CHART] that "Limburg, The Netherlands" came up 12th - right after Kashmir, several different Caucasus groups, Western Norway, Northern France, Cajuns, Central Portugal, etc. I wondered why. Haplotype 35 has a lower than average frequency in Frisian areas, Denmark and Hamburg - one of the reasons why I initially discounted it as a potential Anglo-Saxon signature. Yet it's fairly high in Limburg. I knew that many Portuguese Sephardic Jews settled in Holland and Flanders - and prospered - and I thought that was part of it. [On April 6,2004], I came across an article on Armenians in The Netherlands. It turns out there has been Armenian immigration into Holland and Flanders since the eleventh century; that thousands settled there from the 14th century onward. That's early enough for Armenian Y-DNA to have propagated significantly since, and to skew the stats a little. The Armenians... are genetic brothers to the Alans and the Sarmatians.
So, we have another possible explanation for the DYS393=12 haplotype of the Probasco Family, but again linking back to the Sarmatians and Alans.

Bell/Beal/Beals: Variant spellings of Bell... with variant DNA results. Perhaps we might expect numerous variations on the DNA patterns... arising out of the tumultuous history of the various Border clans. However, it is interesting how close these participants come to the Probasco markers. Beal DNA Surname website; Administrator: Charles E. Beal.

Maxwell: Here we have a single representative of DYS393=12 out of a study of more than 50 Maxwell men so far. We can surmise this participant represents more of the tumultuous history of the Borders area.
See the
Maxwell DNA Surname website; administrators: LTC Wilmer Maxwell and Dr. Don Maxwell.

Stewart: Again, several participants... with DYS393=12. The interesting thing here may be a trend toward R-M73 per Cinnioglu. Note the one participant with DYS390=25, and the three separate participants with DYS391=10. See the Stewart DNA Surname website; administrator: Kathi

Robinson: Here we have representatives of two different haplogroups, two fitting the R1b haplogroup, and another the J-2 or another haplogroup. See the Robinson DNA Surname website; administrator: Don Drake.

West: Note the possible continum between the West, Barlow and Logan samples. See the West DNA Surname website; Administrator: Dennis West; Advisor, Bonnie Schrack

Strickland: See the Strickland DNA Surname website. Participant is sole DYS393=12 member out of 71 surname participants. Administrator: Ron Strickland

Barlow: See the Barlow DNA Surname website; Administrator: Susan Barlow Holmes.

Logan: A Hiberno-Norse family, the Macdoualls of Logan;
See the
Logan DNA Project; Administrator: Jim Logan

Ozoux: A Norman-Viking family; Ozoux is likely from "Osulf".

From the foregoing brief overview, we can see various instances of the haplotype on which we have been collecting data in the area of Southern Scotland and Northern England - which we hypothesis is Haplotype 35, or the "eastern division" R1b modal haplotype, which many believe took refuge during the Ice Age in the Balkans - rather than in the Pyrenees, like its brother, AMH (with its DYS393=13). We attribute the spread of this haplotype into Western Europe to the migrations of Eastern Germanic tribes (e.g., Goths, Vandals, Suevi, Rugians, Heruls), Turkic nomads (e.g., Alans and Sarmatians), Vikings, and possibly various mercantile peoples from the Byzantine Empire (e.g., Armenians, Greeks, and Sephardic Jews). We have found it among various individuals descended from the Hiberno-Norse family, the Macdoualls of Logan; the Norman-Viking family Ozoux (from "Osulf"); members of the Ayrshire family Blair; English families from Cumbria, Lancashire and West Yorkshire, some of whose surnames have Norse origins, others who may have an ancestry among the Sarmatian, Alanic or Dacian troops who served along Hadrian's Wall.

Some notes regarding other lowland Scots families:
Research correlating Borders and other Donegal or Lowland Scottish entries in with corresponding matches in the YSTR Worldwide database reveals some interesting things.

Graham: See the Graham DNA Surname website; Administrator: Susan Barlow Holmes. Most of the Grahams - both in Ysearch and on the Graham Surname Project's web page - appear to be J2. One can read in various places - on the GENEALOGY-DNA-L mailing list especially - that the Grahams were one of those "Norman" clans supposedly descended from Sephardic Jews. The preponderance of J2 among the sample reviewed gives some credence to that notion. However there may be other explanations of the phenomenon. See below.

Lovatt: See the Lovatt DNA Surname website; Administrator: Sherry Alvernaz.

Mc Gregor: There is just one DYS393=12 participant to be seen on their webpage. He fits with the J2 Haplogroup. See the Clan Gregor DNA Surname website; Administrator: Richard McGregor.

Scott: The Scott Surname project does not appear to have a web page, or at least we couldn't find one. What we see in Ysearch is nonetheless quite intriguing. There is a mixture of slightly non-AMH R1b's, along with a J (Roman, Sephardic, Viking, whatever) and an N3 (which is probably Finnish or Saami, by way of Norway). Very interesting bunch!

Douglas: We could find only one Douglas. This was an I1a, with a lot of matches in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark-Norway-Sweden. From what we've read, the Douglasses are a Norman family of Flemish extraction. Considering that the highest frequency of the YSTR hits was 5 exact matches out of 48 in Groningen, The Netherlands, we could say a Flemish origin is right on the money - although it could easily be Norman-Viking as well.

Kirkpatrick: We could find only one Kirkpatrick - another Donegal Bay name, also found as Kilpatrick. The markers here are most likely Iberian/Celtic - but there is an off chance they are Roman, as nearly all of the matches are Spanish or northern Italian. Celtic is nonetheless consistent with one "official" family genealogy.

Vance: We even found a Vance - a land-owning name from Donegal Bay. This one was very satisfying to analyze. The Vances were supposedly descended from the Norman family De Vaux, which itself came from a family in Provence with Visigothic roots named De Baux. The De Baux family, legend has it, came from the noble Gothic family Baltha, as did the man who sacked Rome - Alaric. Of course, just having a Norman name didn't necessarily mean the De Vaux family in Scotland came from this lineage. They could simply have been family retainers of Breton or Frankish descent that lucked out. The Vance markers were I1a. When run against the YSTR database, we found no matches - but the closest match, off just one-step on the 389ii, was in Northern Poland. The next closest match was in Macedonia. The other close matches clustered around Poland, Slovenia, Austria, eastern Germany. This was clearly a Gothic match pattern and does indeed suggest that the Scotch-Irish Vances were descended from the original Visigothic De Bauxes.

Other Possibilities:
Sephardic Jews: There has been much discussion on the Genealogy-DNA Rootsweb list about Sephardic Jews ending up in Scotland, having come there as administrative aides to the nobility, etc. Take a look at this link to the
Human Race Archives, and note the Human Races Calculator .

Notice that 30% of the Sephardic group is HG1 (or R1b). But, even more interesting, check out the genetic closeness of the Sephardic group to the Ossetians. The Ossetians are the direct descendants of the Alans, and therefore the closest thing to a "Sarmatian" sample we're likely to find. The Sephardic group is also close to Turks, Greeks and Armenians - all relatively high-frequency carriers of Haplotype 35. Close to half of the very small number of Y-haplotypes found that match the specific basic six markers, 14-12-24-12-13-12, are a Greek, a Macedonian, a Turk, a Georgian (very close to Ossetians), a Belorussian and a pair of Armenians. Perhaps the Sephardic hypothesis has some credence and should be considered in our list of possibilities.

However, consider the possibility the so-called Sephardic markers in the Anglo-Scottish lowland clans and other family groups actually spring from members of the Sarmatian Cavalry... and further that the present-day Sephardic Jews are converts from an original non-Jewish west-central Asian stock some of whom may have assimulated into the Sarmatian and Alan confederation, long before their original intrusion into Roman Europe. If we accept this possibility, many of the lowland Scots, etc., families exhibiting the YCC J2 Haplogroup were probably not Sephardic Jews at all. Rather, they may have roots among the same 5500 Sarmatian Cavalrymen resettled to Britain by the Emporer Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 175.

Just how much documentation of actual Sephardic Jewish presence in Britain generally, and specifically along the Anglo-Scottish Borders exists? Put another way, have the various Genealogy-DNA correspondents who push this theory actually been able to show a source population who could have generated much of an entire clan... like the Grahams for instance? Food for thought.

Jim Elliott searched the worldwide YSTR database for the highest frequencies of R1b Haplotype 35 and its variants (all of which have DYS393=12):

I compiled the table below from the results. Both the Sarmatians (who served in large numbers along the Hadrian Wall) and the Alans (who swept into France and Iberia in the 5th century, and settled across the Pyrenees - remember that Catalonia once meant "Goth-Alania" - on the coast of central Portugal, and in Armorica - now Brittany - in France) were originally from the steppes of the Caucasus region. The Ossetians are cousins to the Alans and Sarmatians, and so - most likely - are the other aboriginal groups of the Caucasus.

In the table below, note that five Caucasus population groups are among the top twenty entries, and three are among the top five. Note also the presence, in the top ten entries, of the Pyrenees, Central Portugal, Paris, France (close to both Normandy and Brittany), and American Cajuns (predominantly from Normandy and Brittany). The homelands of the Alans and Sarmatians, and the historical focal points of the Alanic migrations of 1600 years ago, together have the highest frequencies of R1b Haplotype 35. Coincidence? I think not.

(I attribute the significant presence of Haplotype 35 in Western Norway to the Goths, Heruls, Rugians and other Baltic Germanic groups who wandered about southeastern Europe, mixing with Alans and Sarmatians, before many of their number went north to Scandinavia - as in the case of the Rugians, who founded "Rogaland"....

The high frequency in Kashmir - traditionally settled by the "Aryans" or "Indo-Iranians" [Editorial Note: But see: Mirfatykh Z. ZAKIEV, "WHO WERE THE ALANS?" above, arguing that the Sarmatians were actually Turkic peoples. The frequency noted in Kashmir may similarly derive from a Turkic origin.]- is also suggestive. The high frequencies in Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria likewise reinforce the "eastern" origin of the haplotype. Also please note that these countries were at the heart of the Byzantine Empire, one of the watersheds of the Sephardic Jewish diaspora that spread across the Mediterranean to such places as southern France, Italy, Spain and Portugal.


All we can do is look at numbers, and make estimates based on those - and, of course, read a whole lot of history. See: FREQUENCY OF R1b* HAPLOTYPES CHART

The Picts: Another possible explanation of the Hypothethized ht35 Haplotype in the Anglo-Scottish Borders area which has been suggested is that the Picts were actually Scythians, and they were the source of the DYS393=12 phenomenon found in the area. One of our correspondants writes:

I have a modern copy of the translation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which was started in the late 800's but reports on events which happened in the British Isles before the Roman occupation and ends in 1154 with the coronation of Henry II of England. I remembered reading something about the Picts ... so I read the preface which is a paragraph or so about the period before the Roman period in Britain. The clerics who wrote the documents which make up the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle drew on earlier sources, in particular Bede and his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" started in the 720s and completed in 731 A.D. Bede was a monk based in Jarrrow in North East England and is known as the father of English history. He was a remarkable man, especially given the period [in which] he lived, writing in Latin and Anglo Saxon, ... he also read Greek and Hebrew. I then remembered I have a copy of "The Illustrated Bede" by John Marsden so I turned to this. Mr Marsden says "By the standards of modern scholarship, Bede might seem to be largely a transcriber of other scholars' work, but such activity was the nature of the scholarship of his time and Bede is the outstanding exception in that he subjected his primary sources to careful scrutiny and drew extensively on his own observations and first-hand information". "The splendid library assembled by Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrith provided Bede with his primary sources in the works such as Pliny, Isidore of Seville and the British historian Gildas. Bede drew extensively on such writings, but he added much of his own". (Isidore of Seville was writing in Spain in the 6th Century. Gildas wrote in Britain also in the 6th century, Pliny lived................).

So in his "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" Bede writes in 731 A.D.:

"At the present time....Britain usues the languages of five peoples......... . These five are the languages of English, the Britons, the Irish, the Picts, and the Latin language, the last of which through the reading of the scriptures is in general use among them all.

Originally this island was inhabited solely by Britons, from whom it took its name. They sailed to Britain, it is said, from the land of Amorica (Britanny), and laid claim to the southern part of it.

After they had taken possession of most of the island, spreading from the south, it came about that the Picts from Scythia, so the story goes, sailed into the ocean with a few warships and were driven by the wind beyond the furthest boundaries of Britain till they reached Ireland, where they landed on the north coast. Finding the Irish (the Irish tribe called the Scots) there they asked permission to make their own home in part of that land, but their request was refused. (there follows a geographical description of Ireland's location). It is to this land, then, that the Picts came on their voyage, as we have said, and asked that they too might be given a place there to make their home. The Irish replied that the island was not large enough for both peoples, but said: "we can give you sound advice on what you can do. We know that there is another island not far from ours to the east, and often on clearer days we can see it in the distance. If you will go there, you can make it your home; and if you meet with any resistance, make use of our help". So the Picts made for Britain and began to settle in the northern part of the island, because the Britons had occupied the south. The Picts asked the Irish for wives, having none of their own, and they agreed only on condition that whenever the succession was in doubt they should choose their king from the female royal line rather than the male. This custom has been observed among the Picts to the present day as is well known.

As time passed, Britain received a third people, the Irish (Scots), in addition to the Britons and the Picts, and they settled in the territory occupied by the Picts. They left Ireland under the leadership of Reuda, and either by treaty or by the sword claimed lands among the Picts which are their home to the present day. It is after their leader that they are still known as the "Dalreudini", because in their language "daal" means a part."

So Bede describes the arrival of the Picts from Scythia and the Scots from Dal Riada in Northern Ireland establishing the kingdom of Dal Riada in Western Scotland, in the process pushing the Picts further east. The Picts and Scots acted together to invade northen England in 367AD. The Hadrian and the Antonine walls had been built because of these tribes therefore both were active in the Scottish borders in Roman times. It is interesting to note that the Picts were renowned for matrilineal succession and to compare that to .... the fact that the Scythians or Sarmatians were renowned for their different treatment of women compared to those living in Mediterranean countries.

It is also interesting that apparently Bede would have probably checked this story with Adamnan. St Adamnan, pupil of St Columba, whose name means "Wee Adam", was born in county Donegal about the year 627. Adamnan was Abbot of Iona (in Scottish Dal Riada) and is known to have at least twice visited Northumbria where Bede was writing. Therefore Bede is believed to be using the first hand account of a Scot's view of their history. It is not inconceivable also given the original and then occaisional co-operation between Scots & Picts that this may well be the story which the Picts themselves believed to be their own that they were descended from Scythians.

I've also found a map which shows the Roman Empire in A.D. 14 showing provinces added after A.D. 14. Saramatae (land of the Sarmatians?) is shown at this point next to Germania, with the boder appearing to be the river Vistula in what is now Poland. This river and possibly access to the Baltic Sea would allow Bede's reported story of the Picts (the Sarmatians, descendants of Scythians) coming in ships to be plausible at some point well before the Roman invasion of Britain. I think your research mentions something about a Polish connection. [See Probasco above]

In response, Jim Elliott wrote:
I have heard, vis a vis The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, that the Picts originally came from Scythia. I have also heard theories that the Picts have a Finno-Ugric origin. Unfortunately, from what I've read, these theories are no longer taken seriously. The current consensus among scholars appears to be that the Picts came from Iberia and/or western France at least a couple thousand years before Celtic culture arrived in Britain circa 500 B.C.E. That origin would most likely make the Picts AMH, rather than "ht35". Unless they really did come from Scythia... And I do agree with you that many aspects of Pictish culture - the relatively elevated status of women, body tattooing, the use of animal imagery in their sculpture - do have parallels among the Scythian culture of the steppes. We could definitely refer to this alternative theory of Pictish origin as a possible explanation for "ht35" among the Scots. But, as I've said, David Strong and I have identified DYS393=12 most often, if not exclusively, among individuals whose ancestors came from Northwest England and the Scottish Borders and Lowlands - not so much in the primary old Pictish areas, which lie in the Northeast of Scotland.)
However, it should also be said that in Roman times, the Picts did inhabit areas further south... right up to the area of Hadrian's Wall... indeed their depredations were one of the reasons the wall was built in the first instance. Jim's point is that in areas occupied in more recent times by descendants of the Picts we have so far observed little or no occurance of the DYS393=12 phenomenon which we hypothesize to be typical of the ht35 haplotype.

This being the case, Bede's explanation of the Sythian origins of the Picts takes on a rather fanciful aura... Nonetheless, perhaps there is a grain of truth to be found in Bede... perhaps when he was writing, some 550 years after the introduction of the Sarmatian Cavalry troops into Britain, there was just enough of the story left to create a confused version as restated by Bede. A revised version might be: "The Sarmatians came to Britain on [ROMAN] ships [fought the Picts] and settled in the Anglo-Scottish Border areas. The Scotis came from Ireland, are generally acknowledged by modern scholars to have been an Irish tribe, and lived in the Dal Riada... an area centered in the Hebridies Islands to the north and west, starting on the west coast of Scotland with Kintyre & the Isle of Arran and then following the west coast north to the Isles of Rhum & Egg which at that time belonged to the Picts. The Sarmatians intermarried with the Scotis and Picts... and left some of their "genetic signature" for us to puzzle over today."

Summary: We have tried to put the available DNA findings from various Surname Studies in a meaningful historical context. We have tried to avoid a simple surmise that one group are "Celts", and another group are "Vikings", both very trendy buzzwords that make everybody's ears perk up. Nor do we focus exclusively on the family, Lord This, Earl of That, and whatnot. We are more interested in the overall history of the region, and of the peoples that settled it, not just in one family. After all, our ancestors lived there for centuries and we're descended from many (if not most) of these families, whether we have their Y lines or not. That's what we are trying to do is to bring in the history, the customs, the surname etymologies, and the medieval ethnology, all in an attempt to enrich our understanding of the DNA findings.

There are some other on-going studies of the haplotypes of Scotland. See the: Scottish Clans Surname Project. John Hansen has done a great job of gathering data - 130 haplotypes - We believe our interpretation of some of the data he has collected will aid in understanding some of these haplotypes.

Ken Nordtvedt is starting a "Lowland Scot" project, which will also be multi-family. While our personal focus is on R1b DYS393=12, Ken's focus is on Haplogroup I. His concept of the Scottish Lowlands differs from ours as well, focusing on Ayrshire, Stirlingshire and places to the North of the borders area. We hope we can share data in the future, assuming there may be an overlap arising from migration between the Borders area and that which he is studying.

Again, if you are DYS393=12 and R1b, please share your exact haplotypes with us, in a form which can be added to the chart posted at: We wish to relate the information back to the DNA studies which produced the results. That is, we give credit to each study and respect their interests in their own data. We have no desire to compromise any aspect of their use for traditional genealogical purposes, and no desire to violate anyone's right to privacy. We are hoping to cooperate with you and to be of possible help to you in developing the answers to the questions posed above, to the extent they are of interest to you.

We need enough information to validate the study... traceable kit #'s and their source. Individual haplotypes which can be examined for correlation with the information available from other participants with the typical DYS393=12 allele. This is important so that we can't be challenged on the basic facts. We need info on Migration Patterns, to the extent known. We need to know if there is any record of Blood Group B in your group's family history. We need to share any insights about the deep root origins of the various families involved in the study. We are not familiar with everyone's surname history... do you know whether it originates in the Border region previously mentioned? If not, where?

You are invited to join this study:
If you have already been Y-DNA tested, found to belong to YCC Haplogroup "R1b" and have DYS393=12 or DYS461=10, please contact
Dave Strong and/or Jim Elliott with details. Please note, we are also interested in participants who have tested as being in the YCC Haplogroups "P" and "Q", particularly those who have a European background.
If you have not yet been Y-DNA tested you are encouraged to join an existing surname study, provided one has already been started for your surname.
If, however, there is no existing surname study, you are invited to click on this link to the Elliott & Border Reiver Families DNA Study to participate.

In the final analysis, our Hypothesis that many of the Border Reiver clans descend from members of the Sarmatian Calvary stationed along the Roman Wall will have to sustain the rigor of better, "finer", SNP testing. Perhaps only then will we be able to prove the hypothesis. In the meantime, we hope to keep gathering data and to increase the level of interest in this area of DNA study. We welcome any additions, corrections, and suggestions for improvement of our discussion.

This web page is divided into several sections. Click on the section to which you wish to jump:
Background of Border Reivers "DYS393=12" Y-DNA Study:
DNA Study Note re Blood Group B
Border Families DNA Results Chart
Discussion of the Hypothesis:
Join the Border Reiver Families DNA Study

Armstrong, Elliott and other Border Reivers Y-DNA Study:
This patrilineal Y-DNA surname study is designed to test the Y-DNA profiles of members of the various Border Reiver families found along the Anglo-Scottish Border, including descendants of "transplants" to Ulster, the United States, Canada, Australia, and around the world. The focus of the study includes families listed on the surname list of the Border Reivers website. If your name is on that list, we are most interested in having you participate in our Y-DNA male surname testing program. Administrator: James V. Elliott.

Jim Elliott has produced a very interesting Elliott (And Border Reivers) DNA Project webpage. You are invited to visit the webpage and to use the form found at the following link on the Family Tree DNA Website to start the process for joining the DNA Study:. If you have questions, please Email James V. Elliott.

Return, if you wish, to The DNA Gateway webpage.

Please let us know if this page has been helpful! Contact David B. Strong. (Click for contact information); or Email James V. Elliott.
Created: Saturday, 26 March 2004
Previous Update: Monday, 29 March 2004
Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Sarmatian horseman. Drawing by Michail Gorelik, from R.Rolle e.a. (eds.), Gold der Steppe. Archäologie der Ukraine (1991).
Sarmatian horseman.
Drawing by Michail Gorelik.

Copyright ©2004 David B. Strong. Click for contact information.