‘Not all’ Vikings were from Scandinavia, scientists say

Not all vikings were from Scandinavia, not all of them were blonde, and up to 6% of the UK population may have viking DNA in their genes, a new study suggests.

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 4:00 pm

Researchers say the results of a six-year project debunk the modern image of vikings as brutal predators who travelled by sea from Scandinavia to pillage and raid their way across Europe and beyond.

Researchers sequenced the whole genomes of 442 mostly Viking Age men, women, children and babies from their teeth and petrous bones found in viking cemeteries.

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According to the research published in Nature, male skeletons from a viking burial site in Orkney, Scotland, were not actually genetically vikings despite being buried with swords and other viking memorabilia.

According to the research published in Nature, male skeletons from a viking burial site in Orkney, Scotland, were not actually genetically vikings despite being buried with swords and other viking memorabilia.

While there was not a word for Scandinavia during the Viking Age, the study shows that the vikings from what is now Norway travelled to Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Greenland.

Professor Eske Willerslev, a Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge - and director of The Lundbeck Foundation GeoGenetics Centre, University of Copenhagen, led the study.

He said: "We have this image of well-connected vikings mixing with each other, trading and going on raiding parties to fight Kings across Europe because this is what we see on television and read in books - but genetically we have shown for the first time that it wasn't that kind of world.

"This study changes the perception of who a viking actually was - no one could have predicted these significant gene flows into Scandinavia from Southern Europe and Asia happened before and during the Viking Age."

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