The Vikings are alive and well and living in the North West of England! That’s the revelation in a new book on an epic research project into the genetic footprint of the Scandinavian invaders.
‘Viking DNA: The Wirral and West Lancashire Project’ is the culmination of several years of research by biochemists and geneticists, by Wirral-raised Professor Steve Harding from The University of Nottingham and Professor Mark Jobling and Dr Turi King from the University of Leicester. It shows the power of modern DNA methods to probe ancestry using the North West of England as an example.
The North West has long been known to have special links with the Vikings going back over a thousand years, through archaeological evidence, ancient manuscripts, local surnames and placenames such as ‘Thingwall’ from the Old Norse ‘ping-vollr’ meaning ‘meeting place’. It’s believed many of the Vikings, of mainly Norwegian origin, ended up in the region after being expelled from Ireland in AD902.
The new book tells the story of how 21st century genetic methods have been used in conjunction with historical and linguistic evidence to investigate the Viking ancestry of Wirral and neighbouring West Lancashire. Rigorous DNA analysis of samples of the local population, focusing on people who had surnames present in the regions prior to 1600, has scientifically proved that the Vikings settled heavily in the area and left a huge genetic legacy which survives and continues today.