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DNA Provides Clues To Ancient Irish Invasion Of Scotland

April 2, 2009

Researchers say DNA techniques may have uncovered new scientific evidence of an ancient invasion of Scotland from Ireland, BBC News reported.

Scots living on Islay, Lewis, Harris and Skye were found to have strong links with Irish people, according to the Edinburgh University study.

Some time around 500 AD the Gaels came from Ireland and conquered the Picts in Argyll, but the researchers said the study was the first demonstration of a significant Irish genetics component in Scots’ ancestry.

The research can be seen on Gaelic television channel BBC Alba and features the work of geneticist Dr. Jim Wilson, a specialist in population genetics.

The work also presents some interesting ancestry of Scots living on the Western Isles and in the north and north east of Scotland.

Wilson said it was extremely exciting to see for the first time the ancient genetic connection between Scotland and Ireland.

He added that it was the signature of a movement of people from Ireland to Scotland, perhaps of the Scots or Gaels themselves.

Historians have debated the origin of the Gaels for centuries.

They were known to have conquered and integrated with Pictish northern tribes and creating the Kingdom of Alba.

Historical sources from the 10th Century show that the Gaels came from Ireland in about 500 AD, under King Fergus Mor, although, more recently archaeologists have suggested the Gaels had lived in Argyll for centuries before Fergus Mor’s invasion.

An east-west genetic divide seen in England and attributed to Anglo-Saxons and Danes was evident in the north of Scotland.

Since the divide was noted in Anglo-Saxon and Danish settlements, expert suggest this division was older and may have arisen in the Bronze Age through North Sea trading networks.

Possibly as many as 40% of the population on the Western Isles could have Viking ancestry, Geneticists said.

However, no Viking ancestry was found in northeast Scotland.

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