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Thread: The "Northumbria Problem" - A Short Story About Scottish Roots and Living DNA Tests

  1. #31
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    My largest grouping at Living DNA is around 20% East Anglia, followed by Yorkshire, then Cumbria. After that I drop into the single digits for the rest of the geographical areas of Britain. My over all British Isles is 72%.

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  3. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by sktibo View Post
    My primary interest and reason for DNA testing in the first place is in Celtic ancestry, and when the news came that Living DNA had gained the right to use the data-set of the People of the British Isles (POBI) study for a commercial test, I was among the first to sign up. I wanted to verify that I had Gaelic roots of some sort, hoping I would get some amount of Northwest Scotland among my percentages. I got something quite different instead.

    My living DNA results came with a surprise: I have always been given a consistent amount of their “Northumbrian” category: initially, 26.2%, then to 29.8%, then to 42.1%, down to 12.4%, and finally back up to 20.3%. I also uploaded a second test, and the pattern continued: The uploads gave me 22.8%, 22.9%, then 20.8%. Whether on the upload or the regular test, Northumbria has always been my highest British percentage.
    Looking at my paper trail, this was impossible: the only ancestry I have from this region is one third-great grandparent from the Scottish Borders; ~3%. My initial uploads for both my parents did not show particularly high Northumbrian percentages; dad showing zero, mom showing 9.7%.

    The bulk of my Scottish ancestry is from two great-grandparents, my mother’s grandmother, and my father’s grandfather. My father’s grandfather comes from Stirling, but many of his roots come from Perthshire. My mother’s grandmother is of Northern Irish ancestry, from what I can tell, those ancestors came from Scotland, but I’m sure many of you know how tricky it is to determine exact origins for ancestors from Northern Ireland.

    Living DNA initially stated that ancestry from Stirlingshire and Perthshire would fall under their Northwest Scotland category. This didn’t line up with my results.

    Fortunately, a genetic study focusing on Scotland finally came out: The Genetic Landscape of Scotland and the Isles (GLSI&I). What it found was that much of Perthshire clustered with Fife, and was more closely related to people in Aberdeenshire than to the people of Western Scotland, such as the Hebrideans. Living DNA’s assumption about Stirlingshire and Perthshire was incorrect. The study tells us that their cluster which aligns most closely with many of the locations of my dad’s ancestors from Scotland, showed stronger similarities with English DNA than the other Scottish clusters – at least the ones listed in admixture chart 3A.

    Another piece of the puzzle arrived in the form of an update from Living DNA, producing drastically different results for the uploads of my parents, but nothing very different for myself. My mother’s Northumbria percentage dropped to 4.4% (paper trail, 6.25%) and my dad’s results gained a Northumbrian percentage of 11.2%, his second highest British percentage. Although it still didn’t add up, this update finally indicated that my “Northumbrian Problem” might be coming from both of my parents, possibly more from my dad than my mom.

    Why, if dad’s Scottish ancestry was from correlated with the Tayside-Fife cluster in the GLS&I, would he be getting Northumbrian?

    Those of you who have read the various genetic studies on Britain and Ireland will know that the genetic differences between most of these clusters exists on a cline or a spectrum, ranging from the extremities of Ireland on one end, to England on the other. In terms of England and Scotland, the borders, or Northumbria and Cumbria clusters, lie in between England and the Scottish lowland clusters.

    However, in the original POBI study, the Scottish Lowlands were very much under-sampled compared to the GLS&I. The South-West Scotland and Northern Ireland cluster numbered only 74 samples in the POBI, and in the GLS&I their Sco-Ire cluster, corresponding to the same geographic area, numbered 255 samples. The Tayside-Fife cluster didn’t exist, and the GLS&I gathered 177 samples for this cluster. The samples from the North-East of Scotland, “Aberdeenshire” in the POBI number around 52. The GLS&I upped this to 94 for Aberdeenshire, and 24 for Buchan-Moray.

    If you look at figure 1 C in the GLS&I, you’ll notice that this Tayside-Fife cluster falls between Aberdeenshire and the Borders.

    When sufficient samples are not available, a DNA test generally pulls from the surrounding populations instead. Another consistent category that has featured prominently on all versions of my Living DNA results has been Aberdeenshire, which is something my dad’s results have also featured. He doesn’t have any ancestry from the north-east of Scotland, only central Scotland, Easter-Ross, and Orkney.
    Being in-between the Borders and Aberdeenshire makes sense, but the Northumbrian component was still the largest out of all the potential Scottish categories. This indicates that a good chunk of my father’s Scottish ancestry wasn’t really all that Scottish, because the borders regions are as “southern” or "continental" as you can get for a Scottish category. If you look at figure 3 A of the GLS&I, the admixture chart which divides cluster ancestry into Welsh, English, and Scottish, you’ll see that the Tayside-Fife cluster has more English admixture than any other component listed, with the most extreme samples from the cluster being very English-like.

    To test this idea, I decided I needed an idea about my father’s overall PCA positioning – Eurogenes Global 25 and the Celtic vs Germanic PCA came into play. I found that my dad plots in a position that isn’t very northern relative to his ancestry on these plots. About 15% of his ancestry is French, but theoretically, his Scottish ancestry should more than counter-balance that and plot him firmly with the English. However, his position looks to be about as southern as you can get for someone of primarily British stock, clustering with Normans and Bretons on the Celtic vs Germanic plot, and on several Global 25 plots. To land in this position, I imagine his Scottish ancestry wouldn’t be all that much different from English ancestry, and then his French ancestry would pull him “southward” on the PCA.

    My dad’s family has a very romanticized idea about their Scottish ancestors, imagining tartan-clad, broadsword wielding, red-haired Jacobites. However, the story that our genetics tells is much less exotic, indicating that perhaps many migrants from the nearby continent contributed to the gene pool of my father’s grandfather. Rather than being proud Gaelic speaking folk, our actual Scottish ancestors could have very well contributed to the replacement of the Gaelic language with the Scots language.

    My opinion has changed over the years since I got my results from Living DNA, but ultimately, I believe consistency in DNA results appears to be telling us something, even if it takes genetic studies and updated results to be able to figure out what it may be saying. That said, if we are fortunate enough to receive another update from Living DNA, things might change again, throwing my theories out.

    Regardless of the accuracy, if you're interested in your British ancestry, Living DNA might be able to give you something to ponder. My Living DNA results have provided me with more entertainment than the other commercial tests.
    There's an easy explanation to the Northumbrian problem and that is because their classification of Northumbria includes the region of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria and not the modern day county of Northumberland. This means, this region correlates to ancestry north of the Humber in south Yorkshire all the way up to Edinburgh. So basically, lowland Scots are very much the same as northern English on a genetic level! I have two grandparents from Scotland (West Lothian and East Lothian), one from Yorkshire and one from Northumberland. Here's my LivingDNA results: LivingDNA results.jpg
    Paternal Grandfather; U8a1a
    G/Granddad Storrie; R1b > Z18 > Z2396 > FGC5831 > BY114844
    G/Granddad Allison; R1a > Z284 > Z287 > CTS8401 > YP392 > YP397 > PH12-matched with VK414
    G/G Granddad Hall; R1b > L48 > Z9 > Z8 > FGC5264 > FT119098

    MDLP W22; Ger-N + Ger-S + Ger_V + Swedish @ 1.14
    Dodecad V3; French_Bsq + Ger + Swedish + Argyll @ 1.01
    puntDNAL K12 Ancient; LaBrana + Yamnaya_Samara + BattleAxe_Sweden_RISE94 + Anatolian Neolithic @ 1.53

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  5. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northman View Post
    There's an easy explanation to the Northumbrian problem and that is because their classification of Northumbria includes the region of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria and not the modern day county of Northumberland. This means, this region correlates to ancestry north of the Humber in south Yorkshire all the way up to Edinburgh. So basically, lowland Scots are very much the same as northern English on a genetic level! I have two grandparents from Scotland (West Lothian and East Lothian), one from Yorkshire and one from Northumberland. Here's my LivingDNA results: LivingDNA results.jpg
    Truly, the most Northumbrian of us all! Thanks for posting your result.
    Why it's a problem in my case is that I have no ancestry from Fife or the ancient kingdom of Northumbria, save 3.125% from Roxburghshire, and so the reasoning in my story had to come into play..

    I know I'm long-winded but if I had ancestry from these regions there would not have been a short story, it would have been resolved in 2017.
    Last edited by sktibo; 10-28-2020 at 05:56 PM.

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  7. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northman View Post
    There's an easy explanation to the Northumbrian problem and that is because their classification of Northumbria includes the region of the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria and not the modern day county of Northumberland. This means, this region correlates to ancestry north of the Humber in south Yorkshire all the way up to Edinburgh. So basically, lowland Scots are very much the same as northern English on a genetic level! I have two grandparents from Scotland (West Lothian and East Lothian), one from Yorkshire and one from Northumberland. Here's my LivingDNA results: LivingDNA results.jpg
    This is interesting. On my Mother's side I had a Scottish grandmother (supposedly "Scot-Irish") and a N. German grandfather (Bremen, Hamburg, and Mecklenburg), If the Scottish is "just Scottish" your map would fit my mother accurately.

    Coupled that with my father's paternal line being all Colonial-American English with an I1 haplogroup explains why I get such a heavy Scandinavian pull on all the DIY models.

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  9. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryS. View Post
    This is interesting. On my Mother's side I had a Scottish grandmother (supposedly "Scot-Irish") and a N. German grandfather (Bremen, Hamburg, and Mecklenburg), If the Scottish is "just Scottish" your map would fit my mother accurately.

    Coupled that with my father's paternal line being all Colonial-American English with an I1 haplogroup explains why I get such a heavy Scandinavian pull on all the DIY models.
    I don't think there's any doubt that Scottish ancestry can contribute to a Northern or Scandinavian like pull. Scottish ancestry is frequently labelled as Celtic but I think many Scots similarly to the English are a northern European mix

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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by sktibo View Post
    Hey Soft Cheese, Chicken Skin here. Thanking you for the info.
    They've refined the British part of the panel or did they just say the panel? The Irish and German references have been updated a couple of times IIRC.
    I believe that the last update that we had regarding the progress of the project for creating sub-regions within Ireland was on the 25th July 2018 when it was 40% complete. They definitely did an update of the panel around November 2018 when they gave my mum 100% Ireland. The Irish panel is either incomplete for different regions within Ireland or else they've given up on the sub-regional breakdown.
    Last edited by FionnSneachta; 10-29-2020 at 06:56 PM. Reason: Edited to clarify what updates I am referring to
    Ancestry: Ireland (Paper trail ≅ 81.25% Roscommon, 12.5% Galway, 6.25% Mayo)
    Y-DNA (P) ancestor (Y): Kelly b. c1830 in Co. Roscommon (Uí Maine)
    mtDNA (P) ancestor: Fleming b. c1831 in Co. Roscommon
    mtDNA (M) ancestor: McDermott b. c1814 in Co. Roscommon
    mtDNA Great grandfather: Connella b. c1798 in Co. Roscommon (T2a1a8)
    Y-DNA 2x great grandfather: Higgins b. c1816 in Co. Roscommon (R-DF109)
    Y-DNA 3x great grandfather: Fleming b. c1829 in Co. Roscommon (R-Z23534)

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  13. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by FionnSneachta View Post
    I believe that the last update that we had on the project was on the 25th July 2018 when it was 40% complete. They did an update in November 2018 that gave my mum 100% Ireland. They have definitely updated the panels but it's either incomplete or else they've given up on the sub-regional breakdown.
    I was under the impression they had updated the Ireland category and the German categories, as well as the other categories specifically mentioned by them in blogs notes ect

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    Quote Originally Posted by Webb View Post
    My largest grouping at Living DNA is around 20% East Anglia, followed by Yorkshire, then Cumbria. After that I drop into the single digits for the rest of the geographical areas of Britain. My over all British Isles is 72%.
    Do you have east anglian or yorkshire ancestry? going to guess you have some lowland scots or ulster scots and that's what the Cumbria represents

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  17. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by sktibo View Post
    I was under the impression they had updated the Ireland category and the German categories, as well as the other categories specifically mentioned by them in blogs notes ect
    The panel has definitely been updated but they either don't have enough samples in certain regions to create the sub-regions or else they're not bothering with that goal anymore and just want to have a solid Ireland region. It does seem like they've given up on that idea since there has no mention of the sub-regions since 2018.
    Ancestry: Ireland (Paper trail ≅ 81.25% Roscommon, 12.5% Galway, 6.25% Mayo)
    Y-DNA (P) ancestor (Y): Kelly b. c1830 in Co. Roscommon (Uí Maine)
    mtDNA (P) ancestor: Fleming b. c1831 in Co. Roscommon
    mtDNA (M) ancestor: McDermott b. c1814 in Co. Roscommon
    mtDNA Great grandfather: Connella b. c1798 in Co. Roscommon (T2a1a8)
    Y-DNA 2x great grandfather: Higgins b. c1816 in Co. Roscommon (R-DF109)
    Y-DNA 3x great grandfather: Fleming b. c1829 in Co. Roscommon (R-Z23534)

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  19. #40
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    How much of this could simply be due to genetic recombination? Given how you get a random portion of your ancestry from either parent, with noise increasing with generational distance. For example, as far as genealogical records go I am 50% French Canadian and 50% Irish/Welsh/English, but my Ancestry results only give me 2% French with my ancestry overwhelmingly being British (69% Gaelic, 9% Welsh, 20% Anglo-Saxon).

    It could also be that you just happened to inherit ancestry from a composite of sources and "Northumbria" was the closest reference point to it. For example, the paucity of French in my ancestry results is most likely because northern French is close enough to the English pool that my Celtic ancestry pulls the rest of my French ancestry into the England and NW Europe category.

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