Clan Carruthers, DNA Project, Genealogy, Origins

CLAN CARRUTHERS: Most vikings were Scandinavians, but not all Scandinavians were Vikings?

From Wiki – Vikings

We constanly get our messages hit by Trolls asking exactly the same questions: ‘where do Carruthers originate’ and ‘are Carruthers a Viking Clan’.

There has obviously been much confusion linking Carruthers with Vikings and Viking ‘royalty’ yet both our y-DNA Marker and Haplogroup would suggest these statements are inaccurate. We accept that in 900 AD, a Swedish male, bred with an indigenious female from Annandale in south west Scotland to start the Carruthers chiefly line. But was he actually a ‘Viking’, with all the ‘romance’ that entails, or was he simply Swedish?

Firstly, we need to evaluate what a Scandinavian actually is :

  1. A native or inhabitant of Scandinavia, or a person of Scandinavian descent.
  2.  Belonging or relating to a group of northern European countries that includes DenmarkNorway, and Sweden, or to the people, languages, or culture of those countries.
  3. Scandinavia, historically Scandia, part of northern Europe, generally held to consist of the two countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway and Sweden, with the addition of Denmark.

Secondly we will define the term Viking in modern culture:

  • Any of the Scandinavian pirates who plundered the coasts of Europe from the 8th to 10th centuries.
  • One of the pirate Norsemen plundering the coasts of Europe in the 8th to 10th centuries
  • The word Viking comes from the Scandinavian term ‘vikingr’ meaning ‘pirate’. 

As we can see the definition of Viking is exclusive to those who ‘pirated’, ie a job as it were rather than a race of peoples. So does that mean that all who were sea faring were vikings, all who landed in British waters were Vikings, all who traded with the peoples of the British isles or in fact settled in parts of it were ‘Vikings’, history would strongly suggest not.

There are of course other individuals, in a similar vein to our selves placing factual information about a their history and peoples out there to ensure facts supercedes fiction.

We still see claims of Carruthers being:

A Scottish Clan (Correct).

A Viking Clan (Incorrect).

An Irish Clan (Incorrect).

The claims of the last two is due simply to very poor DNA and Genealogical research called “inaccurately join the dots history’. It is offered to individuals by accident or design, who are really not educated in the facts, nor in fact may not wish to be.

So what is the Answer?

Were all Scandianavians Vikings, and were all Vikings Scandinavians?

This information is taken from very well researched article and referenced by Christian Christiansen on the Scandinavia Facts site where he discusses:

Are all Scandinavians descended from Vikings?

He suggests that although the conflation is that all Scandinavians were Vikings, this may not necessarily be the case. He does however allude to the fact that many Scandinavians, but not all, will have some Viking ancestry although this is difficult to differentiate one from the other.

Interestingly, he also suggests that although Scandinavian culture draws on its Norse history and many Vikings (as defined) came from Sweden, Norway and Denmark, it seems that not all Scandinavians were in fact Vikings.

According to Christian, the term Norse and Viking were not equivalent in meaning and again reiterating that just because Vikings originated from Norse culture, not all of that age were Vikings, the latter being a term that only came into being in a period between the 8th and 11th centuries. As such ‘Viking’ was simply a subgroup of the Norse population who looted and pillaged from their long ships. Vikings were therefore what they did, rather than who they were and where the came from ie being defined by their role rather than their ethnicity.

Continuing from that concept, it seems that not all Vikings were in fact Scandinavian as some recent DNA studies have shown ‘Vikings’ as having Asian and Southern European ancestry. Accepting Viking descendants had migrated over large swathes of land in Asia and Europe, and appreciating genetically they were not of the same ethnic group, serious intermixing of populations has occurred.

Another factor of course is the lack of the written word on their history, as Vikings were primarily an oral culture, and most of what is known is through their Epic Poems, which have been described as Mythological.

To summarise, Christian succinctly states ‘ Since neither all Vikings were Norse, nor all Norse were Vikings, it is impossible to detect significant Viking ancestry today’ (rather than Scandinavian).

‘The best that can be done is to determine if a line of ancestry passed through Scandinavia sometime between the 8th and 11th Century’.

(As our ancestor obviously did, but our y-DNA doesn’t correlate with the presumed ‘Viking DNA -why?).

However, Christian goes on to say that ‘even this does not firmly establish Viking ancestry. Diluted over Millenia, remote Viking ancestors may have only left minute traces of genetic material in modern human DNA’.

Seen in this light, lineage becomes a matter of percentages and of course ultimately all humans come out of Africa.

But what else is out there?

How does it stack up with latest Viking DNA research and as such can we feasibly suggest Carruthers were really Vikings?

The answer, based on the above and the 3 studies below, and our own y-DNA research, the answer is a definative No.

Taken from the Edinburgh University Study.

The University of Edinburgh research of 2019, looking at Scotlands genetic landscape shows about six clusters of genetically-similar people in the Borders, the south west, the north east, the Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland.

The southern, Borders, region of Scotland forms the boundary between Scotland and England. Individuals with ancestry from this region separate from other Scottish clusters and instead cluster with individuals of English ancestry (ie the Borders). This border phenomenon is reflected in our EEMS analysis, where we observe a genetic barrier separating the Borders from the rest of Scotland.

(This will also include any possibility of a Gael/Irish influence seen in the west coast of Scotland and Galloway)

The study looked at the genetic make-up of more than 2,500 people from Britain and Ireland – including almost 1,000 from Scotland – whose grandparents or great grandparents were born within 50 miles of each other.

Kingdoms in the Dark Ages, widely considered to have been between the end of the Roman Empire in 476 AD to about 1000 AD, occupied comparable areas including Strathclyde in the south west, Pictland in the north east, and Gododdin in the south east.

The modern genetic landscape of the Isles reflects splits into the early languages of the Isles on one hand: Q-Celtic (Scottish, Irish and Manx Gaelic) and on the other P-Celtic (Welsh, Cumbric, Cornish, Old Brythonic, Pictish).

(Carruthers maternal ancestry will fall into this latter catagory of P-Celtic: Welsh, Cumbric and Old Brythonic, of the Border region of Scotland, see here)

The Borders cluster coincides geographically with the old Brythonic kingdoms of the Gododdin (modern Lothian and Borders) and Rheged (modern Cumbria)

Also according to Bristol University’s study in September 2020.

‘The genetic legacy of the Viking Age lives on today but with only six per cent of people of the UK population predicted to have Viking DNA in their genes compared to 10 per cent in Sweden’.

Now cutting-edge DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking skeletons from archaeological sites scattered across Europe and Greenland will rewrite the history books as it has shown:

  • Skeletons from famous Viking burial sites in Scotland were actually local people who could have taken on Viking identities and were buried as Vikings.
  • Many Vikings actually had brown hair not blonde hair.
  • Viking identity was not limited to people with Scandinavian genetic ancestry. The study shows the genetic history of Scandinavia was influenced by foreign genes from Asia and Southern Europe before the Viking Age.
  • Early Viking Age raiding parties were an activity for locals and included close family members.
  • The genetic legacy in the UK has left the population with up to six per cent Viking DNA

The six-year research project, published in Nature today, debunks the modern image of Vikings.

DNA from the Viking remains were shotgun sequenced from sites in Greenland, Ukraine, The United Kingdom, Scandinavia, Poland and Russia

There wasn’t a word for Scandinavia during the Viking Age – that came later. But the research study shows that the Vikings from what is now Norway travelled to Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Greenland. The Vikings from what is now Denmark travelled to England. And Vikings from what is now Sweden went to the Baltic countries on their all male ‘raiding parties’.

The scientists have also revealed male skeletons from a Viking burial site in Orkney, Scotland, were not actually genetically Vikings despite being buried with swords and other Viking memorabilia.

Also published in a study in Nature in the European Study of Human Genetics, looking at subdividing Y-Chromosona Haplogroup R1a1 suggests:

Although rare in absolute terms, R1a1-GML3* is the major sub-haplogroup found in Spain, France and Belgium, and also represents 11% of hg R1a1 chromosomes in Great Britain; its distribution seems unrelated to early medieval Viking dispersal, as shown by its complete absence in Scandinavian samples.

Also that within the island of Great Britain itself, if hg R1a1 were a reflection of Norse Viking migration, we might expect a higher frequency in regions that show high autosomal contributions from peninsular Scandinavia. However, there is no significant difference between regions with high and low contribution, for either R1a1 as a whole, or for the two candidate Viking sub-lineages identified here.

So what does it mean?.

It means that even using DNA correctly, there is no clear correlation between Carruthers markers and Vikings, Gotland or otherwise nor famous Viking Chiefs and in fact throughout Scotland other than Orkney and Shetlands, there are no high percentages of a ‘Viking’ genes located.

The Border region’s genetic makeup is noted through the Edinburgh study, that it had more DNA kinship to Wales, ie the Brythonnic heritage of the Border Region, than ‘Vikings’.

However, we do accept that our paternal Chiefly line has a Scandanavian male root, but do not accept any of the information suggesting that we are from Viking stock. That is pure fantasy and of course on the search for robust evidence, the y-DNA research does not support it. It is also a fair statement that our maternal lineage could is solidly based in the indiginous population of the area of Annandale, where the origins of Carruthers lie.

Now and based on the evidence, what we can deduce is we really have no idea how he got there or why, but we can say for certain that his seed began the Carruthers chiefly line and for that we are grateful.

If the answer one receives from others concerning our comments and findings in this blog is that we ‘simply do not understand’, please be aware that through our Historians, our Geneologists and our y-DNA Research and where Carruthers are concerned, we understand a very great deal.

Ready and Faithful – and as always with Carruthers in mind.

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