‘Ten percent of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts’
So says a recent article on the website of The Scotsman newspaper.
The figure comes from research undertaken by Dr Jim Wilson, a geneticist at the University of Edinburgh and chief scientist at the ancestry testing company ScotlandsDNA. Genetic testing of 1000 Scottish men by Jim and his team revealed that ten percent carry a DNA marker that seems to be concentrated in the Pictish heartlands north of the Firth of Forth. The logical conclusion is that these men are descendants of the Picts.
As I’ve said before whenever this topic has cropped up, I’m no scientist so I don’t feel qualified to comment on genetic data, but Jim’s findings do sound quite interesting. Read the article and see what you think. For me, the only real eye-opener is that the writer seems slightly surprised that ‘a large number of descendants of these northern tribes, known as “Picti” by the Romans meaning “Painted Ones”, are living in Scotland.’
The Scotsman online: One in ten Scots men descended from Picts
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Because the article deals with matters of ‘ethnicity’ and identity it has attracted many comments, one of which begins with a rather pertinent question: ‘When there are no Picts alive today, how can anyone say, at all, that any percentage of Scots men are descended from Picts, a linguistic and cultural label, not a genetic one?‘
Some of you will already be aware of a book by Jim Wilson and Alistair Moffat on DNA and Scottish ancestry. It’s called The Scots: A Genetic Journey and is published by Birlinn of Edinburgh (who also publish my books).
A couple of years ago, BBC Radio Scotland ran a series in which Alistair and Jim spoke about the topics covered in their book. I turned up in a couple of episodes, chatting with Alistair about the Strathclyde Britons as we strolled around the summit of Dumbarton Rock. The scientific stuff was way over my head, of course, but I enjoyed listening to the series because it was something I knew absolutely nothing about.
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