THis week I received an email from a reader in Toronto, which set me down a path of discovery.
He was asking about a project called Yorkshire DNA after reading a story from several years ago which carried the headline “DNA tests show Yorkshire people really are a different breed!”
The article went on: “More than an instinct, a boast from the terracing, or even a more measured cultural observation, Yorkshire is very definitely different. It’s official. DNA ancestry testing has proved it.” Yorkshire’s DNA project was testing the genetic makeup of Tykes and it showed Yorkshire’s ancestral background was markedly different from the rest of Britain.
It’s complex but I’ll try to get this right. In genetics Y chromosomes are passed on by men to their sons. In Britain just under a third of men carry a particular dominant Y chromosome nicknamed Pretani (that being the earliest recorded name for the British). In Yorkshire it is not seen in so many men. Instead we’re dominated by the ancestry that has it roots across the North Sea. Groups we have called Germanic, Teutonic, Saxon, Alpine, Scandinavian and Norse Viking make up 52 per cent of Yorkshire’s Y chromosome, compared to 28 per cent across the whole of the rest of Britain. It’s a fascinating article.
I’m now imagining great Vikings and Danes strolling down the Headrow having walked across the (then attached) lands. The research also showed the lineage of women here was even more ancient, some had Sheban heritage. Perhaps that’s why my mum so often admonished my young sofa-bound self with the words: “Who d’you think you are, the Queen of Sheba?”
If you want me I’ll be on the chaise longue scoffing a snegle.