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The latest talk by Dr Tyrone Bowes at Scottish Origenes can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here. The holy grail of Academic Ancient DNA research is to accurately date the rate at which Y-DNA... More
My first talk since Covid was given at the end of March 2023 at Kihleeshil and Clonaneese Historical Societies Community Centre in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland! The talk 'Rewriting the history of... More
THE hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies completed at Scottish Origenes have facilitated the production of the Scottish Origenes ethnicity map (pictured). Each Y-DNA Case Study has a pinpointed origin and... More
Research at Scottish Origenes has revealed that about 20% of Scottish surnames are exclusive to a single location within Scotland. Since Scottish surnames are often a genealogical record of one’s... More
Introduction (Updated September 2022) 17th Century Gaelic Ulster was one of the last redouts of the ancient Celtic world. A world that had been eclipsed in Mainland Europe by the Romans over a... More
A simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test ONLY explores the paternal line, and it can therefore be used to pin one’s direct male ancestors to specific locations at specific time points in... More
A surprise finding from 10 years of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies was the considerable number of males with Mediterranean-associated Y-DNA Haplogroups. Intriguingly, each Scottish Origenes Y-... More
Oct 2021. Scotland and Ireland are close neighbours, and it is no surprise that commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing and the resulting hundreds of Y-DNA Case Studies conducted at Scottish and Irish... More
What do >300 Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies reveal about the modern Scots? October 2021. The Y-DNA test explores the male paternal line, and anyone you match upon Y-DNA testing shares a... More
In 2021 Scottish and Irish Origenes launched a new FREE website ( dedicated to the Origenes maps series, where one can zoom in and explore the surnames, clans, castles, and DNA... More
(February 3rd 2021). When commercial DNA testing began it focused completely on Y-DNA STR testing. While Y-DNA STR results can routinely be used to pinpoint a paternal origin, the STRs themselves, as... More
In June 2018 Irish Origenes was commissioned to do a Y-DNA Case Study report for a Mr David McGinnis from Oregon in the USA. In that report (based exclusively on his commercial Y-DNA test results)... More
UPDATED October 2020, NEW (6th) McDonald Case Study Added! The McDonald surname is probably one of the most famous, spawning one of the world’s most notable brands. It is also one of the most common... More
The challenge with modern commercial ancestral mtDNA testing is linking a specific maternal Eve with a precise geographical location. However, pinpointing an origin for one’s direct female ancestor... More
The Autosomal DNA test is by far the most popular commercial ancestral DNA test worldwide (tests like’s, 23andMe, MyHeritage and FTDNA's Family Finder). BUT are you really getting the... More
Previous Scottish Origenes research has revealed how the Irish and Scottish Gaels share a common origin within the Rhineland of Central Europe, and that the progenitors of both groups sought refuge... More
The first ever Plantations Surnames of Ireland map has been completed just in time for the Back to Our Past Event in Belfast in 2019. The map details the precise location where farmers with each... More
Commercial ancestral Y-DNA testing has revealed that up to 40% of all Scottish males (and males with paternal Scottish ancestry) will have a Gaelic origin (the Y-DNA test only explores the paternal... More
Step I: When the Gaelic surname 'MacMichael' becomes Norman 'Mitchell' A change in ‘cultural identity’ can be quite rapid (think modern Americans who are a mix of almost every nation on the planet)... More
Ireland is one of Scotland's closest neighbours, and their shared heritage runs deep; it is reflected in surnames (Mac or Mc?), language (Gaelic) and not to forget their national drink (Whisky or... More
Anybody who has taken a simple painless commercial ancestral Y-DNA test (which only explores your paternal ancestry) will potentially have matched many people with lots of different surnames, and... More
Don Anderson, who is an adoptee from Oregon, has released a book which is a must read for all adoptees wishing to uncover the identities of their birth parents. Its also a must read for anyone... More
The DNA does not lie and upon commercial ancestral DNA testing the people who appear as a genetic match to you share a common ancestor with you, it is merely a matter of when that shared ancestor... More
A Sample DNA Case Study which shows how the NEW Scottish Origenes Surnames, Clans, Castles and DNA maps can be used together with a simple painless commercial ancestral DNA test to rediscover your... More
DETAILING the origin of approximately 4,000 different Scottish surnames, the Medieval territories of 400 of the most prominent Scottish Clans and Families, and the precise location of 1000 Scottish... More
Surname distribution mapping reveals that the Graham surname is associated with Scotland and bordering English Counties. Since farmers with each surname still concentrate in the area where one’s... More
The beauty with the DNA approach to researching one’s ancestral origin is that the DNA does not lie! The area identified in an Irish, Scottish, English or Welsh Origenes personalised DNA report can... More
Surnames evolve over both time and distance, and change usually at the whim of an administrator who simply records an unfamiliar surname as he hears it. In this manner similar sounding surnames... More
At Family Tree DNA’s  annual conference in 2012 I presented results demonstrating that the Scottish 'Valentines' were descended from a MacGregor who had changed his surname sometime in the early... More
I’ve been busy recently doing Case Studies and working on a Surnames and Y-DNA Map of Scotland (previewed here). But this Valentine Case Study is one of my all-time favourites and I’d like to share... More
Sometimes a quite remarkable Y-DNA Case Study comes along that I will try my best to get published in a Genealogical magazine. The latest one published in Family Tree Magazine details the Paterson... More
Every successful Irish, Scottish, or English Origenes Case Study tells an interesting story, some like the Durkin Case Study are easy to solve, others like the MacKenzie Case Study which features in... More
I was a guest speaker for Family Tree DNA at the 2013 Who Do You Think You Are LIVE event in London. The slides for that talk can now be downloaded by CLICKING HERE. This is my second set of talks... More
I was invited by the world’s largest commercial ancestral DNA testing Company 'Family Tree DNA' to give a talk entitled 'Pinpointing a Geographical Origin' at their 8th Annual Genetic Genealogy... More
The Royal house of Scotland sprang from the Kings of the Scots, who constituted only one of the 6 peoples inhabiting the modern lands of Scotland. Yet when Kenneth, son of Alpin, united the Picts and... More
When one thinks of Scottish surnames, one almost always thinks of those that begin with Mc’ or Mac.’ This is an over simplification as Scottish surnames are quite diverse and reflect the various... More
Scotland was first settled roughly 10,000 years ago after the end of the last ice age. The first reference to the people of Scotland comes from Roman sources that referred to the people north of... More

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Roman DNA in Scotland, the mystery of the Ninth Legion solved?

A surprise finding from 10 years of Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Studies was the considerable number of males with Mediterranean-associated Y-DNA Haplogroups. Intriguingly, each Scottish Origenes Y-DNA Case Study with a Mediterranean-associated Haplogroup also had a pinpointed origin within Scotland that was located close to a Roman ruin or road. Even more surprising was that the majority closter together within a small area of Dumfriesshire close to the English border and surrounding a prominent Roman Road and located close to two significant Roman fortifications (Burnswalk and Birrens). Many Scottish surnames denote the ethnicity of their ancestors; Welsh/Wallace (Ancient Celt/Briton), Scott (Scots Gaels), Ireland (Irish), Inglis (English), Haldane (Half Dane), and Rome (Roman), the latter of which is also exclusive to Dumfriesshire! Today, the Dumfriesshire Scots who appear to be descended from Roman settlers in Scotland have surnames like Rome, Wells, Smith, Kirkpatrick, Graham, Jardine, and Johnstone; all of whom have left evidence of their long historical links with the Southern Borderlands of Scotland in its placenames and castles/towerhouses. Surnames appeared in Scotland an estimated 1,000 years ago, so the fact that at least one individual would acquire the surname ‘Rome,’ indicates that the locals of Southern Scotland in 1000AD were aware of its Roman history. 

How does Roman DNA end up in Scotland? Either the Romans left lots of DNA among the local girls, or the Romans had willingly settled in significant numbers in Dumfriesshire. The fact that today Roman Y-DNA may account for an estimated 50% of males that farm the lands between Dumfries and Lockerbie would suggest it was a permanent settlement. But the Romans did not (as far as history is concerned) settle permanently in Scotland (retreating behind Hadrians Wall). Which raises the possibility that the Scots Border Kirkpatricks, Grahams, Jardines, and Johnstones could be the descendants of the lost Roman Ninth Legion which reportedly dissappeared in Scotland? 

The Ninth Legion was formed in Spain by Pompeii the Great and later served in Gaul under Julius Caesar. The Ninth’s history is intricately linked with the destruction of the Celtic Gauls, a process which the DNA studies have revealed led to substantial number of Gaulish refugees taking ultimate refuge in Scotland and Ireland (as the Romans advanced through Britain, see from Gauls to Gael click here). The Ninth Legion is last mentioned in Northern Scotland where their night camp suffered a surprise raid by the Caledonians. Could it be that the Ninth Legion was annihilated by the refugee Gauls who together with their Caledonian hosts exacted a terrible revenge? Then, in an ancient Roman cover-up, the survivors of the Ninth were quietly settled in Dumfriesshire. Unlikely, as archaeology reveals that the Ninth was engaged in the rebuilding of the legionary fortress at York (Eboracum) in 108AD. This is recorded in an inscribed stone tablet discovered in 1864.

There is another theory (by historian Theodor Mommsen) that the legion was wiped out in action in Scotland soon after 108AD, perhaps during a rising of northern tribes against Roman rule. This view was popularised by the 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth in which the legion is said to have marched into Caledonia (modern day Scotland), after which it was "never heard of again". That book spawned an impressive Hollywood film (The Eagle) which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. One surprising moment of the film is when the main character finds a group of Roman Legionnaires from the Ninth Legion who had survived the ‘massacre’ and rather than return in shame had settled in Scotland (in Dumfriesshire perhaps???). It all makes for a great Hollywood film, but the truth is probably far more prosaic. It is more likely that Dumfriesshire was a focal point for trade between Roman and the natives of Scotland, with a considerable number of Romans settling permanently, and in time changing the genetic landscape of the area. Either way, the descendants of those Romans would thrive, and in time give rise to prominent Border Scots clans like the Grahams, Jardines, and Johnstons. Many of these Roman-Scots from Dumfriesshire would migrate to Ireland in the early 1600’s becoming ‘Scots Irish’ and then later venture to the Americas. Their descendants would give rise to one US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, (whom the Johnstones of Dumfriesshire claim as their own).
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