Thursday, 31 March 2022


T gave me a lovely present. A DNA testing kit. It was simple to use. I put a small amount of my saliva into a test tube. Added the blue stabilizing fluid. Screwed the top onto the tube, put it into a sealed bag and sent it away. After that, all I had to do was to register my details on the Ancestry website and wait. They said the results could take six weeks. At first I began to ponder what sort of old git I might be. Then I promptly forgot about it. Until I received the email telling me to log on and find the results.

My ethnic origins were traced back for 1000 years. England and NW Europe counted for 60%. The remainder was Scotland 15%, Wales 11%, Sweden & Denmark 6%, Ireland 5% and Germanic Europe 3%.

These results were very intriguing. Especially as there are no Danish, German, Scottish or Swedish connections in my family within living memory. But these make up 24% of my DNA. So how did this come about?

Stories of journeys, encounters and intermarriage are the stuff of living memory that is spoken of by Grannies and Granddads at family gatherings. What my DNA test shows is that this has always been true. My forebears moved around in search of better circumstances and interbred. Then they settled for a while, until the next move took place, however many generations later.

This is what has made me a mongrel. But I’m not exceptional. The other people on these islands are going to be mongrels too. These islands have been inhabited for around 30,000-40,000 years. And until 8000 years ago Britain was joined to Europe by land. So to move somewhere new and intermarry, all you needed to do was walk. And after that, our forebears became good at building boats.

The other thing it shows is that there is no such thing as ethnic purity. This means that national identity is a social construct (and not a biological one). So whatever flags we may choose to wave. Underneath we are all mongrels. And we have much more in common with one another than we have differences.


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