Powered by Living DNA

Trace your ancestry across the UK

Discover where your British ancestors came from with this detailed report

Genomelink co-developed the UK Ancestry Analysis in partnership with LivingDNA

Upload your existing DNA test result to access this report.

The most detailed UK breakdown — 21 regions!

This report breaks down the British Isles into 21 distinct geographical sub-regions such as South East England, North West Scotland, and Cornwall
1 South East border
2 South
3 North
4 South West and noi
5 Orkney
6 North West
7 Aberdeenshire
8 Ireland
9 South East
10 Yorkshire South
11 South
12 South Central
13 North West
14 Northumbria
15 Yorkshire North
16 Lincolnshire
17 Anglia
18 Devon
19 Cumbria
20 Cornwall
21 Central

South Wales Border

The areas of Shropshire, Herefordshire, Monmouthshire, Worcestershire, Powys and Gwent are collectively called the South Wales border. DNA here shows similar genetics with Germany, France and Belgium which may be legacy to some of the first settlers in Britain after the last ice age.

These connections first appear with the most ancient settlers of the Welsh border, and may still make up a sizable amount of your DNA today. The Celtic tribe “Silures” occupied much of this area, and were famously impassioned against the Roman invasions. The South Wales border is a place full of imagination and mythical legend - King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are thought to originate in Caerleon, being part of the British defence against the Anglo-Saxons.

Such myths are based around some truth from historic events across the borders. Wales was part of the British defence against the Anglo-Saxon invasions. The genetic signature of the Welsh borders may differentiate from both England and the rest of Wales due to this invasion - it experienced less genetic impact from the Anglo-Saxons than the English, but saw more of an impact than the south and north regions of Wales.

South Wales

Wales is a unique part of Britain and has its own genetic signature. Not only does Wales differ from the rest of Britain, but the genetics of south and north Wales are also differ. The landscape is full of mountains and is difficult to access easily, which may be one of the explanations for such differences.

The unique southern signature is found in the modern counties of Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and West Glamorgan. These locations have evidence of human activity in the Middle Stone Age after the Ice Age began to calm. It is likely that the population of Wales can be traced back to these early migrants, who appear to have traveled by boat, possibly from western France, to both Wales and Ireland and also by land bridge from Europe.

Pembrokeshire has some of the earliest sites of human habitation, such as The Nabs Head, which has hundreds of stone and flint tools created for hunting and butchering prey. South Wales’ isolated lands were not untouched forever, and it did experience some force from the Roman, Viking and Norman invasions, but suffered little from the Anglo-Saxon occupation of England. The genetic legacy from these invasions is slim, which challenges the idea that all Vikings did was pillage and rape. The legacy of the tribal inhabitants of Wales is seen today in the Welsh language, which acts as a living legacy to ‘Celtic’ migrations.

North Wales

The North Wales signature roughly covers the areas of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Wrexham and northern Powys. The genetics, archaeology and history of North Wales brings up a multitude of questions - Are you related to the most ancient Britons? Were the Vikings as brutal as legend suggests? Why is Wales so genetically unique?

By combining archaeological, historical and genetic evidence, these questions can begin to be answered. The population of Wales is thought to be most closely related to the earliest, most ancient settlers who migrated over after the last ice age. It is likely that they came from Ireland and Western France, and potentially even Spain. Not only is Wales genetically unique, but North Wales is even genetically different from the south. The timing of migrations and the almost impenetrable mountainous landscape are amongst some of the reasons for such uniqueness.

The Vikings were no strangers to North Wales, and appear to have significantly raided the area. However, not all Vikings may have been as brutal and ravaging as legend suggests, with evidence pointing toward some Vikings being cooperative and settled farmers. Wales has its own language, which appears to have French elements, with connections to the Bretons in Brittany.

SW. Scotland and N. Ireland

There is a shared genetic signature for the areas now known as Northern Ireland and the southwest of Scotland, including Dumfries and Galloway. The areas are divided by a watery barrier, yet historical migrations across the sea have led to a shared genetic legacy between them.

The origins of the first settlers in these two areas highlight the beginning of their shared past - migrations of people from Europe travelled into Scotland, and then into Ireland across the sea. This formed the basis for a connected genetic signature. Both Ireland and Scotland are seen as places of Celtic legend, encompassing a tribal genetic legacy and history.

However, there is no evidence for there being one huge tribe that were connected through genetics, thus the idea that there was one solidified Celtic group is now considered a myth. The genetic signature has a quality that is unusual in the British Isles - it is likely to be largely influenced by a relatively recent event in the 1600s. This event is known as the Ulster Plantation, which saw thousands of Scottish people being placed into Northern Ireland by King James. Not only did this influence language and religion to this day, but the DNA of the Scottish and Irish was intermixed. Natural movements of people across the sea is also notable, both before and after the Plantation of Ulster.

Orkney and Shetland Islands

The Northern Isles cover the Orkney and Shetland Isles, which boast a rich and exciting archaeological history from the Neolithic Era and beyond. Prior to this, there is scarce evidence for human habitation, but small finds can tell us that people were living here 9000 years ago.

The coastal nature of the islands provided an ideal fishing spot for hunter gatherers. The Neolithic Era marks the beginning of a rich and colourful array of evidence for some of the earliest farming communities. Skara Brae is arguably one of the most intriguing discoveries in North West Europe, giving us a preserved example of the housing style of these first farmers. The islands are famous for connections to the Vikings - the very name ‘Orkney’ is Old Norse for ‘The Seal Islands’.

There is much debate about the nature of the Vikings. Were they peaceful settlers who integrated with society, or were they bloodthirsty warriors looking for new lands? The likely answer is both. DNA shows that the Vikings did not wipe out the previous populations, as only 25% Norse DNA can be found in the genetic signature today. Many were peaceful farmers and many were warriors on an expedition to find new lands. Much like the very first settlers, the Vikings utilised the coastal locations of the Shetland and Orkney islands, not just for food, but instead for raiding, trading and expanding their power.

Northwest Scotland

The genetic signature of the north west of Scotland is as exciting as its colourful history. The signature covers from Argyll to the Highlands and everything in between. This area has been changed throughout the years by migrations and kingdoms, and has a reputation for its independent, warlike tribes - the ‘Picts’.

To the Romans, these tribal people were called ‘painted ones’. Unlike the overly literal portrayal from the film ‘Braveheart’, they were probably not covered in blue paint, but were actually heavily tattooed across the face and body. It is thought that the genetic signature today is influenced by the Kingdom of the Picts - the original tattoo artists of Scotland.

The signature is influenced by Irish migrations, and has Irish roots to this day. In 550 AD, the Kingdom of the Dalriada spread from Northern Ireland across into North West Scotland. It was thought to be more of a cohesive introduction than a full blown, violent invasion. Remarkably, the genetic signature for North West Scotland closely matches the boundaries of this kingdom, showing the extent of an Irish genetic legacy. The Romans called these people ‘Scotti’ which ultimately led to the creation of Scotland's name. The Irish legacy has therefore created the name of Scotland, as well as influencing the Gaelic language and genetic heritage.

Aberdeenshire

Aberdeen and the surrounding areas of Northeast Scotland display a unique genetic signature. The first milestone in the genetic journey begins at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago, and it all started with immigration.

Groups of people from what we now call Europe travelled the lengthy journey to Scotland as the vast ice sheet began to melt. These nomadic hunters are thought to have contributed to the genetic signature here to this day. A second migration wave of farmers (most likely from Brittany) spread into Scotland and revolutionised the way in which people lived. From hunter gathers to skilled farmers, the lives of the people in what came to be Scotland were changed forever.

The people of North East Scotland lived in the area from the Iron Age until the 11th Century. These people were known collectively as the ‘Picts’ and were tribal farming communities. They have a reputation as being unruly, troublesome and free spirited, but new ideas suggest they were highly organised, with a strong military and classed social structures. They were named “Picti” by the Romans, which is Latin for “painted ones” - this was not because they brushed themselves in blue paint as the movies suggest, but because they were covered in tattoos.

Ireland

A common misconception of Ireland's history is that it is based on one solidified “Celtic” group, who are all connected by genetics, culture and customs. However, when you delve deep into Ireland’s past, the story is much different - it is far more complex and no doubt more interesting.

Ireland is genetically unique, having a different genetic signature to Britain despite its close proximity. The most ancient populations of Ireland appear to be very similar to those of Britain, yet future migrations are considerably different. Farming populations appear to have migrated into Ireland (most likely from Spain) on a huge scale, intermingling with the hunter gatherers of the country.

Although there are many subsequent migrations into Ireland, it is likely that the Spanish farmers are responsible for a significant genetic change to the Irish population. Ireland was unaffected by the Romans and Anglo Saxons who invaded and settled neighbouring Britain, but did feel the undesired impact of the Vikings from Scandinavia. Ireland has often been seen as having Viking ancestry in the past, but research suggests the genetic impact may be much smaller than the substantial cultural influences that resulted from the settlements and raids of the Vikings from 795 AD.

Southeast England

South East England is best characterised as the landing point for the many settlers who have arrived in Britain from Europe over the millennia - prehistoric European hunter gatherers and farmers, Gauls, Romans, Jutes, Saxons, and Normans have all come ashore here after crossing from the continent.

Settlers, conquerors, traders, and refugees have all therefore contributed to the diverse genetic heritage found within the region even today. In addition to their DNA, they also carried with them new cultural ideas and technology which has revolutionised Britain across the millennia. Remarkably, we can still detect the DNA of nomadic Stone Age people that first settled Britain at the end of the last ice age - the same signature that can also be found in western Germany, north western France, and Belgium today.

Subsequent waves of migration have added to this melting pot, including the Europeans who brought farming, bronze, and iron to Britain. The Romans appear to have left little in the way of a genetic legacy when compared to the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. The genes of this region are possibly 10-40% derived from these Germanic invaders who later settled into kingdoms. The subsequent Norman invaders politically transformed the region, and placed South East England at the heart of a kingdom which has maintained the same European connections first established 12000 years ago.

South Yorkshire

The formation of South and West Yorkshire as a distinct genetic and cultural region has its roots in perhaps the most mysterious part of Britain’s history. As the Romans withdrew roughly 1500 years ago, the island was undergoing a great cultural and demographic shift.

Waves of migration from Northern Europe saw Angles, Saxons, and Jutes setting up vast and powerful kingdoms, both displacing and integrating with the indigenous Britons. In certain areas, this transition happened quickly with little evidence of warfare, but some post-Roman rulers resisted. The Kingdom of Elmet held out in England longer than most others, a buffer state in southern Yorkshire surrounded by expansive Anglian kingdoms.

Though eventually it fell, remarkable evidence from the first fine scale genetic map of Britain shows that the ancient kingdom’s legacy is still felt today as a unique genetic signature can be found in an area almost perfectly matching its probable geopolitical boundaries. This region is the gateway to the North, with numerous settlers and conquerors passing through. Stone Age nomads, Iron Age tribes, Roman legionnaires, Anglo Saxon kings, Viking raiders, and Norman knights have all left their mark here. South and West Yorkshire has therefore always been shaped both by its own steadfast inhabitants, and the generations of European visitors that have come to call this place home.

South England

The South England genetic signature reflects the European heritage of this region. Remarkably, we can still detect the DNA of nomadic Stone Age people that first settled Britain at the end of the last ice age - the same signature that can also be found in western Germany, north western France, and Belgium today.

These people arrived tracking the new post-Ice Age wildlife and building semi-permanent dwellings near lakes and rivers. Over thousands more years of prehistory they were joined by further European migrants who often bought in new technology with them - farming, bronze, and iron. The Romans left little genetic legacy when compared to the Anglo-Saxons.

The genes of this region are possibly 10-40% derived from these Germanic invaders who later settled into kingdoms, with much of the south of the country being a part of the Kingdom of Wessex which united England and drove back the Vikings. The subsequent Norman invaders politically transformed the region, and the next thousand years have seen England and Great Britain at the heart of global networks. South England's proximity to both the maritime world and the mainland of Europe has helped maintained these connections that first flourished 12000 years ago.

South Central England

The areas known to us today as Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Somerset (South Central England) share a genetic signature and archaeological history. The earliest settlers in this area moved across from Europe after the freezing and vast ice sheets of Britain began to give way to a warmer climate. The first insight into human life here dates back 14,700 years.

There is evidence that these people had cannibalistic tendencies, which may have been ritualistic or may simply have been a way to cope and survive the relentless environment and changing climate. A second migration to Britain brought farming into action and completely changed the inhabitants way of life. Migrations may have occurred from Normandy and the Channel Islands into the southwest, with farming technologies migrating up to South Central England.

This area was invaded by the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and the Normans. Currently, there is no indication that the Norman and Roman invasions had any detectable genetic impact on the people of Britain. The Anglo-Saxon invasions have probably contributed between 10% and 40% of your DNA and were even responsible for great changes to the language - Old English. Multiple migrations from Europe have created a rich and diverse genetic and archaeological history in South Central England.

Northwest England

At first glance, the genetic signature unique to the North West England region (comprised of Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire, and Greater Manchester) does not appear to correspond to any well known historical boundaries.

In fact, the region has often been divided at various points between rival Iron Age tribal confederations, distinct Roman administrative districts, and warring Anglo Saxon kings.To make sense of this region, we must delve deeply into one of the most mysterious eras of Britain’s past. In the aftermath of Roman departure from the island, long forgotten native kingdoms rose and fell, leaving scant written and archaeological evidence of their existence. Through clues found in ancient Welsh poetry and windswept hill forts, we know of a kingdom named Rheged present on Britain’s north west coast around the time when Anglo Saxons were arriving on eastern shores.

Split via inheritance, the southern portion of the kingdom appears to match the genetic boundaries found in the North West England region today. It therefore appears that this area’s distinct DNA signature originates from this time, and is probably rooted in the stubborn resistance offered by the people of the North against the invading Anglian kingdoms. South Rheged was eventually conquered, and has since seen Anglo Saxon, Viking, and Norman settlers contributing to a vibrant British and European heritage.

Northumbria

To the first nomadic settlers of Britain, Northumbria (Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, and Durham counties) would have been a paradise filled with wildlife that flourished after the last ice age. To the people of the British Bronze and Iron Ages, this region was the centre of tribal confederacies that built great hill forts that still mark the landscape today.

To the Romans, the area represented the border between civilisation and barbarity. For the Anglo Saxons, this was the heart of a powerful northern kingdom, one of the few that resisted the Viking onslaught with some measure of success. Throughout history, Northumbria has meant many things to many people, and its unique story has resulted in a unique genetic signature that can be detected within the region today. This land is defined by its geography.

The many forts and castles that made Northumbria so defensible are often based around the rocky outcrops and hills common to the region. Perhaps this is why the area often successfully stood against invasion from tribesmen, Vikings, and Scots. This is also a land defined by its coast. The region has never been isolated, and for millennia people have settled here from across distant shores to trade, farm, and sometimes to conquer. Northumbria may lie in the extreme north of England, but its regional heritage has been very much rooted in its European connections since ancient times.

North Yorkshire

The area of North and East Yorkshire has always been a magnet to settlers, farmers, traders, and conquerors since the very beginnings of Britain. As far back as 11000 years ago, this region was home to the Stone Age community of Star Carr, a rare semi-permanent lakeside settlement many times bigger than those usually uncovered by archaeologists.

Bronze Age villagers erected standing stones across an ancient ritual landscape, and the later Iron Age inhabitants were part of the largest tribal confederacy in Britain at the time. Perhaps the defining moment, however, for North and East Yorkshire was when the Romans chose to establish York as an administrative and military hub from which they could govern the North.

Their occupation of Britain may have lasted for a little under 400 years, but successive Anglo Saxon, Viking, and Norman invaders all imitated their Mediterranean forebears in centralising their power here. Incredibly, the distinctive genetic signature found in this area is probably due in part to the boundaries established by these many European settlers - the ancient tribal and Anglo Saxon borders still shape the region even today. York itself may no longer be a seat of kings and emperors, but the area surrounding the city has not forgotten the unique legacy that they forged centuries ago.

Lincolnshire

Bordered to the east by the North Sea, Lincolnshire has come to be characterised at least in part by its relationship with a multitude of Northern European people, who at various times throughout history have sailed from the continent to settle, invade, or trade with Britain.

Far from major urban centres even today, this is a land of farmers and fisherfolk, people of the soil and the sea. Its relative remoteness has also lent it an air of mystery. This land has always been inhabited by people as diverse as European hunter gatherers, Belgic tribal people, and retired Roman legionnaires. However its true origins as a culturally distinct county lies in the half forgotten Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Lindsey, which may itself be derived from an even older Romano-British territory lost to history.

The Kingdom of Lindsey was short lived - after perhaps a century of independent rule the region was fought over first by the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia, before being conquered by the Vikings, who were defeated in turn by the Kingdom of Wessex. Throughout Medieval times the region was active in the sea trade between England and Northern Europe due to its importance in the wool trade. This mix of cultural influences in Lincolnshire’s formative years possibly accounts for its development as a unique county of modern day England, with a proud regional heritage and history.

East Anglia

Forged by flood, the coastal region of East Anglia was created approximately 8000 years ago when Britain first became an island. Since this time, a multitude of migrants have sailed across from Europe to settle on these shores, mixing with older cultures and kingdoms to create a dynamic regional heritage infused with ideas, practices, and people from the continent.

Equally as important as the sea, the fens and rich farmland found here have convinced generations of these wanderers to stay, leading to a genetic signature unique to this area. Hunter gatherers crossed into Britain here at the end of the last ice age, and further migration in the millennia that followed brought revolutions in agriculture and metalwork.

This is also the region of Boudica, the Iceni Queen who led a revolt against the Romans. She was ultimately unsuccessful, yet the Romans eventually withdrew from Britain due to instability within the empire, leaving East Anglia for the Angles and Saxons who sailed across from modern day Germany and Denmark. Their most famous treasures, the Sutton Hoo burial goods, are found here, showing off the wealth and European connections of these ancient kings. Quickly integrated into Norman England following William’s conquest in 1066, the past thousand years have seen East Anglia maintain these ancient European connections as an integral part of both England and Britain.

Devon

Over many millennia people have moved in and out of Devon, from the earliest known humans in northwest Europe residing in Kent’s Cavern in Torquay, to the Norman invaders of 1066. This has resulted in Devon representing a distinct genetic signature within the British Isles, with different ancestry from both Cornwall to the west and the rest of England to the East.

Devon’s position on the border between Celtic and Germanic populations has influenced the genetics of the Devonians – its geographic location enabled its people to resist against invaders for longer than most, leading to a stronger connection to Britain’s ancient past. In prehistory the precise opposite was true – there is evidence that Devon was amongst the first places to be settled after the Ice Age by European hunter gatherers who originally made Britain their home.

These people were joined by successive waves of New Stone Age migrants from the mainland who introduced new technologies and new ways of thinking. Hunter gatherers became farmers, and villages became towns. The Romans had only a small presence in the region, establishing Exeter and building roads and villas before leaving again. A new Celtic kingdom was founded, and stood to resist the Anglo Saxon invasion before finally being defeated. This pattern repeated itself when William the Conqueror invaded, before Devon finally became a true part of England.

Cumbria

Cumbria is a land where spirituality and industry have intertwined for millennia. A land between lands for much of its recent history, this region has always been culturally distinct from the rest of Britain. The hills and valleys have helped to preserve remnants of the Old North for generations, whilst its extensive coastline has attracted new European settlers and traders.

Together, these elements have served to make Cumbria a melting pot of both culture and genetics. The region may seem to be on the peripheries of England now, but in ancient times this area has been central to many different people. Stone Age farmers set up a thriving axe industry in the Langdale Valley, one of the first true British manufacturing hubs.

The Romans built the famous Hadrian’s Wall across the northern part of this land to set in stone the very edges of their empire, leading to the surrounding area becoming a vibrant network of settlements and ports. Perhaps because of this, a powerful indigenous kingdom sprang up in the wake of the Roman departure, with a boundary roughly matching the genetic borders of the region today. Centuries of settlement by Angles, Vikings, Normans, Scots, and English have contributed to a unique regional and genetic heritage that is still strongly felt even today.

Cornwall

The genetic signature of Cornwall is remarkable as it more or less matches the geographical boundary between Cornwall and Devon today across the Tamar River. Cornwall is such a southerly spot in Britain, making it one of the last places to be reached by the Romans and Anglo-Saxons.

As a result, Cornwall's genetic legacy and cultural customs have taken a different shape to other regions across Britain. When the ancestry throughout Cornwall's history is explored, a vast diversity of people and culture is uncovered. Multiple migrations over many millennia have connected the Cornish people to France, Germany, Belgium and more. Cornwall was once inhabited by a tribal group, named by the Romans as the “Cornovii”. They originally introduced metal work from across Europe and made Cornwall a hub for international trade.

With the mining of tin, Cornwall began to trade with people as far as the Aegean and Mediterranean, placing this little region on the global map. The Cornish people were determined in their attempts to resist invasions, holding off the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans for longer than other regions across Britain. Partly, this is because of the southerly geographic placement of Cornwall, but is also a result of the proud and resilient nature of the Cornish people. The early Cornish language survived for thousands of years, and was still in widespread use by the 1700s.

Central England

Central England has always been a melting pot - a place where waves of new European customs and people from the south have met and blended with older cultures and customs further north and west.

Prehistoric European hunter gatherers and farmers, Gauls, Romans, Angles, Vikings, Saxons, and Normans have all settled here having migrated from the continent, and at various times throughout Britain’s history this region has been both borderland and heart of tribal confederacies, kingdoms, and empire. This is a land of myths and legends, the home of Robin Hood and Lady Godiva. Remarkably, we can still detect the DNA of nomadic Stone Age people that first settled Britain at the end of the last ice age - the same signature that can also be found in western Germany, north western France, and Belgium today.

Subsequent prehistoric people arrived later, including the Europeans who brought farming, bronze, and iron to Britain. The Romans appear to have left little in the way of a genetic legacy when compared to the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who established the powerful Kingdom of Mercia centred in this region. Viking and Norman invaders also conquered and settled here but again seem to have left little genetic mark. They did however contribute much to a merging of Northern European cultures that has led to the formation of both medieval and modern British society.

1/2

Pinpoint your ancestry

Trace your UK ancestry back to 21 distinct regions within the British Isles (including 13 regions in England and 7 in Scotland and Wales)

Unique historical content

Find out how your ancestors ended up where they did with important historical context and insight into British migration patterns.

Get a full genetic breakdown

Find out how your ancestry breaks down by ethnicity and by region (the most comprehensive ethnic breakdown for UK ancestry anywhere).
Powered by Living DNA

Pinpoint your ancestry across the British Isles

Genomelink co-developed the UK Ancestry Analysis report in partnership with LivingDNA

Start for Free
Copyright © 2022 Genomelink, Inc. All rights reserved.