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Monday, 3 December, 2001, 18:15 GMT
Viking blood still flowing
Blood Of The Vikings, BBC
Many Vikings settled in Britain 1,200 years ago
Blood tests taken over the past year may help show part of Cumbria in northwest England was a Viking stronghold 1,200 years ago.

Geneticists discovered the area around Penrith has clear evidence of Norwegian influence.

However, the study also confirms that Vikings settled in large numbers in the Shetland and Orkneys and the far north of the Scottish mainland.

The research is part of a ground-breaking project commissioned by the BBC to uncover the UK's Viking roots.

Vikings revealed

In the first large-scale genetics survey of its kind, experts from University College, London, studied the DNA of 2,000 people.

The full results of the project will be revealed in the final programme of the series, Blood of the Vikings, on Tuesday at 2100 GMT.

The study shows the genetic pattern of the Vikings remains in some parts of the UK population.

The research confirms the Norwegian Vikings did not just raid and retreat to Scandinavia, but actually settled in Britain.

Genetic markers

Of all the English test sites, only Penrith in Cumbria had clear evidence of Norwegian influence.

Surprisingly, mainland Scotland had a similar Celtic input as the population of southern England, showing that not only were the English never "homogenous Anglo-Saxons", but neither were the Scots predominantly Celtic.

Geneticist Professor David Goldstein, from the University College London (UCL), led the study. He said: "Modern genetics has opened up a powerful window on the past.

"We can now trace past movements of peoples and address questions that have proved difficult to answer through history and archaeology alone.

Men only

"I'm delighted that we have been able to distinguish clear markers to indicate the genetic inheritance from the Norwegian Vikings."

Scientists at UCL took mouth swabs from 2,000 people from 25 different locations across Britain.

They only tested men because information they were interested in was contained on the Y chromosome - which women do not have.

The genetic material in the samples was compared with DNA taken from people in Scandinavia where some locals are thought to be most similar to the Vikings.

See also:

20 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Vikings lead BBC Two autumn attack
06 Aug 00 | UK
Hunt on for British Vikings
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