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Haplogroup R1a

The fabled haplogroup R1a - or, more precisely, its subclade R1a1 - is said to indicate a "Viking origin"

when it is found among men of British descent. This is the haplogroup that will earn you a "Viking" certificate

from Oxford Ancestors, and its presence was the main focus of the Capelli study "A Y Chromosome

Census of The British Isles".

It is believed to have originated among the Kurgan culture of western Asia, which is often credited

with spreading the Indo-European languages to northwestern Europe. The Kurgans were nomads with a

pastoral economy, and to this day their descendants bear the genetic traces of a dependence on livestock and

animal products. The incidence of milk tolerance among the Swedes, for instance, is among the highest

in the world.

The Scandinavians have long believed that their ancestors originated in Asia. The Icelandic sagas claim

descent for the Jarls of Norway from the warriors of Troy, and the anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl - the author of

the classic "Kon Tiki" - spent his final years attempting to trace the human originals of Wodin and the Aesir

back to Azerbaijan in the Caucasus.  There may be an element of truth to these speculations, since individuals with

R1a haplotypes often score matches with Indians, Siberians, Chinese and other Asians - even when they score no

matches with persons from Europe. The recent discovery of fair-haired mummies in the Takla Makan desert of western

China has revived interest in the long forgotten Indo-Iranian tribe, the Tocharians, their possible role in the economy

of the Silk Road, and their relationship with the people of Europe. Haplogroup R1a is also, implicitly, the "Aryan"

haplogroup, and perhaps the less said about that, the better.

A person who does not belong to haplogroup R1a may, in fact, have a "deep ancestry" in Scandinavia.

R1a accounts for only about 30% of the men of Norway. The various subclades of Haplogroup I account for

about 35%, and even R1b accounts for as much as 28%. Conversely, a person who does belong to R1a does

not necessarily have Scandinavian ancestors - even if his people are from Britain.

Suppose you take three Britons - one whose grandfather was a Pakistani immigrant, another whose grandfather

was a Polish pilot with the RAF, and the third a Scot descended from one of the Hungarian noblemen who

accompanied Margaret Atheling to the court of Malcolm Canmore - and who, perhaps, bears the name

Drummond, Borthwick or Crichton.

All three gentlemen could easily be R1a, but that doesn't make them Vikings.

However, some DNA genealogists have asserted not only that R1a was "Viking", but that only R1a was truly Viking -

and that all the occurrence of R1b in the Norwegian population is due to the importation of Celtic slaves. This is a

curiously Anglo-Centric argument. Vikings took slaves from many foreign lands, and sold most of them to

other foreign lands. Most of the slaves in Norway were, in fact, the descendants of prisoners captured in wars

with other Vikings. Even those foreign slaves who were imported to Norway were more likely to be Slavic

than Celtic, as Slavs comprised the largest number of the slaves the Vikings bought and sold. Slavs had been

common victims of the "peculiar institution" since Roman times.

R1a is, in fact, far more prevalent in Poland and Hungary than in Norway. One could actually mount a

counterargument that it was not R1b, but R1a, whose incidence in Scandinavia was artificially enhanced by slavery.

R1a could also have entered Britain with the Goths, who served with the Roman Army in Britain. Many

Visigoths also settled in France, and some of their descendants accompanied the Normans to England. The De Vaux

family of Dirleton Castle, for instance, came from Normandy. Before that, however, they were reputedly descended

from a Visigothic family that obtained lands in Roman Gaul.

Indo-Iranian nomads like the Alans and the Sarmatians also probably carried R1a, and they found their

way to Britain as well.

Viking DNA Among The Border Reivers

Many of the Border Reiver families are rumored to have Viking origin. That is a reasonable assumption in view of the

fact that Cumbria - the heart of the "Debateable Lands" - offers abundance evidence of Viking settlement, from place

names and Norse dialect, to archaeological finds of Viking artifacts and "hogback" style tombstones. Most of

these Vikings were actually Hiberno-Norse, which means that their forebears had resided in Ireland for generations

and had intermarried with the Irish Gaels. From the start of the wars in Dublin in the early tenth century, up until Brian

Boru finally ejected the Vikings at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014, there was a steady stream of refugees to the Isle

of Man, the Wirral (near Chester) and the sparsely populated areas of Galloway and Cumbria.

Penrith, which is in Cumbria, showed the highest proportion of R1a haplotypes of any place tested in England -

about 8 percent, according to the Capelli study. The percentage of R1a in our sample so far is less than half that.

R1a Haplotype #1

Although the majority of the matches here are in Eastern Europe, this haplotype most likely came

to Britain with the Norwegian Vikings.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
14 13 29 25 10 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Central Norway 2.08
Lublin, Eastern Poland 1.49
Eastern Hungary [Roma] 1.43
Hamburg, Northern Germany .88
Gdansk, Northern Poland .18

R1a Haplotype #2

The highest incidence of this haplotype is in western Russia, which was colonized by those Swedish Vikings

known as the Varangians or the Rus. This haplotype also appears among Croatians, Slovenians, Poles, Hungarians

and Germans. These are the groups that are genetically closest to the Norwegians, according to the paper

"Different Components in The Norwegian Population Revealed by The Analysis of mtDNA 

and Y Chromosome Polymorphisms".

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
15 13 30 25 10 11 13 12 14

Geographical Locale

%
Novgorod, Western Russia 2.00
Zagreb, Croatia 1.33
Moscow, Western Russia 1.18
Ljubljana, Slovenia .83
Madrid, Central-East Spain .68
Bydgoszcz, Northern Poland .59
Budapest, Hungary .51
Munster, Westphalia .51
Warsaw, Central Poland .42
Taiwan [Han] .21
Gdansk, Northern Poland .18
Chemnitz, Saxony .12

R1a Haplotype #3

The haplotype below is very common for an R1a. Since its highest levels occur among

Norwegians and Swedes, it's clearly of Viking origin.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
15 13 30 25 10 11 13 11 14

Geographical Locale

%
Louisiana [Hispanic-American] 3.33
Oslo, Norway 3.03
Baranya, Southern Hungary [Romani] 2.56
Vasterbotten, Sweden 2.44
Bulgaria 1.64
Maryland [European-American] 1.56
Cabinda, Angola 1.33
Dusseldorf, Westphalia 1.33
Kiev, Ukraine 1.22
Moscow, Western Russia 1.18
Gdansk, Northern Poland 1.10
Madgeburg, Saxony-Anhalt 1.06
Budapest, Hungary 1.02
Berlin, Brandenburg .91
Ljubljana, Slovenia .83
London, England [Asian] .75
Lublin, Eastern Poland .74
Zagreb, Croatia .67
Stuttgart, Baden-Wurrtemberg .65
Andulacia, Southern Spain .61
Chemnitz, Saxony .61
Central Portugal .54
Rostock, Mecklenburg .49
Greifswald, Pomerania .48
Freiburg, Baden-Wurttemberg .46
Tyrol, Western Austria .44
Warsaw, Central Poland .42
Munich, Bavaria .40
Leipzig, Saxony .15

R1a Haplotype #4

Almost all of the top ten match rates for this haplotype are in Norway, Sweden and the

Baltic coast. Again, this is clearly of Viking origin.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
15 13 30 25 11 11 13 11 14

Geographical Locale

%
Southern Norway 4.00
Moscow, Western Russia 3,53
Texas [European-American] 2.56
Vilnius, Lithuania 2.55
Ostergotland Jonkoping, Sweden 2.38
Eastern Norway 2.35
Varmland, Sweden 2.35
Central Norway 2.08
Greifswald, Pomerania 1.92
Bydgoszcz, Northern Poland 1.79
Ljubljana, Slovenia 1.65
Graz, Styria 1.54
Dresden, Saxony 1.47
Gdansk, Northern Poland 1.47
Macedonia 1.34
Southern Caucasus [Georgia] 1.30
Bialystock, NE Poland [Byelorussians] 1.27
Kiev, Ukraine 1.22
Budapest, Hungary 1.02
Szeged, Hungary 1.00
Romania .98
Krakow, Southern Poland .93
Southern Ireland .93
Warsaw, Central Poland .83
Wroclaw, Western Poland .83
Brussels, Belgium .80
Tartu, Estonia .75
Riga, Latvia .69
Turkey .63
Tyrol, Western Austria .44
London, England .40
Chemnitz, Saxony .37
Madgeburg, Saxony-Anhalt .35
Sweden .25
Freiburg, Baden-Wurttemberg .23
Leipzig, Saxony .15

R1a Haplotype #5

The top frequencies here are in Norway, with a hit in Greenland and numerous hits in Poland.

Once again, this is clearly a Norse Viking signature.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
15 13 29 25 11 11 13 11 14

Geographical Locale

%
Central Norway 6.25
Western Norway 1.56
Greenland [Inuit] 1.45
Chiang Mei, Thailand 1.41
Riga, Latvia 1.38
Texas [European-American] 1.28
Cordoba, Argentina 1.00
Krakow, Southern Poland .93
Panjab, Northern India .93
Southern Ireland .93
Hamburg, Northern Germany .88
Lublin, Eastern Poland .75
Bialystok, Northeastern Poland .64
Turkey .63
Bydgoszcz, Northern Poland .59

R1a Haplotype #6

Although this haplotype most likely arrived in Britain with the Vikings, its match pattern

suggests a Finnish element.

(According to many, truly Norse R1a often shows affinities with R1b haplotypes

from the Indian subcontinent - hence the matches in Pakistan. The common ancestors of

both groups migrated from Central Asia north to Northern Europe, and south to India.)

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
16 13 30 26 11 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Florida [European-American] 4.55
Riga, Latvia 1.38
Parsi, Pakistan 1.11
Sindhi, Pakistan .82
Tartu, Estonia .75
Zagreb, Croatia .67
Vilnius, Lithuania .64
Turkey .63
Bydgoszcz, Northern Poland .59
Munster, Westphalia .51
London, England [Asian] .38
Finland .25
Chemnitz, Saxony .12

R1a Haplotype #7

This partial haplotype is very rare. The only match that directly suggests a Viking origin

is the one in Gdansk. The other matches are all in Central Europe. This may express the

genetic legacy of the Rugians or the Heruls, who spent centuries wandering through the interior

of Europe before returning to Scandinavia - the Rugians to found Rogaland, the Heruls to

become the Jarls of Uppsala.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
16 14 - 26 11 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Budapest, Hungary .51
Tyrol, Austria .44
Leipzig, Saxony .30
Gdansk, Northern Poland .18

R1a Haplotype #8

This partial haplotype is also very rare. It may have an origin similar to R1a Haplotype #7,

but shows more evidence of eastern wanderings.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
16 14 - 26 10 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Burusho, Pakistan 1.06
Budapest, Hungary .51
London, England [Asian] .38
Chemnitz, Saxony .37

R1a Haplotype #9

This partial haplotype exhibits its strongest presence in Sweden, Norway and

Lithuania. There are many hits in Eastern Europe as well. Classic R1a.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
16 14 - 25 11 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Varmland, Sweden 4.65
Southern Norway 4.00
Vilnius, Lithuania 2.54
Zagreb, Croatia 2.00
Warsaw, Central Poland 1.25
Transylvania [Szekely] 1.02
Szeged, Hungary 1.00
Tyrol, Western Austria .87
Wroclaw, Western Poland .83
Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemburg .65
Sweden .49
Sao Paulo, Brazil [Europeans] .45

R1a Haplotype #10

This partial haplotype does not suggest a Scandinavian origin as strongly as some of the

others on this page. It may have arrived in Britain with the Vikings, or with the Goths

and Sarmatians at Hadrian's Wall, or with Normans of Alanic or Visigothic descent.

It is refreshing to be able to imagine other possibilities.

19 389i 389ii 390 391 392 393 385a 385b
15 14 - 26 10 11 13 - -

Geographical Locale

%
Baloch, Pakistan 1.69
Moscow, Western Russia 1.18
Krakow, Southern Poland .93
Mozambique, Southern Africa .89
London, England [Asian] .38
Berlin, Brandenburg .18
Taiwan [Han] ,21