One in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants from the Norse warriors

  • Around 930,000 people can claim to be of direct Viking descent
  • A study compared Y chromosome markers to estimated Viking DNA patterns
  • The Viking DNA patterns are rarely found outside Scandinavia

Almost one million Britons alive today are of Viking descent, which means one in 33 men can claim to be direct descendants of the Vikings.

Around 930,000 descendents of warrior race exist today – despite the Norse warriors’ British rule ending more than 900 years ago.

A genetic study carried out by BritainsDNA compared the Y chromosome markers – DNA inherited from father to son – of more than 3,500 men to six DNA patterns that are rarely found outside of Scandinavia and are associated with the Norse Vikings.

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Amateur Vikings process around their longboat during the annual Up Helly Aa festival in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland

Records estimate that the first Viking longships landed in Britain in 793AD and that the Vikings went on to rule parts of England until the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.

Vikings left behind buildings, culture and words that are still used in the English language today.

Key findings from the research include that men from the Shetland (29.2 per cent) and Orkney (25.2 per cent) Islands, heavily populated by the Northmen in the Viking Age, are most likely to have Viking in their bloodlines.

South of Scotland Yorkshire (5.6 per cent) and Northern England (four per cent) are the most prominent areas of the country for Norse Viking ancestry with more than 300,000 Northern men able to claim direct descent – accounting for almost a third of descendants.

Further south the percentage of Viking descendants drops significantly, with South West England home to as few as 40,000 father line descendants.

Despite being a known hotspot for the Vikings when they first landed, Ireland has very little sign of a Norse genetic contribution today, with only 1.4 per cent of men from the Emerald Isle thought to have Viking connections.

Leinster has a lower count of Viking bloodlines than any other part of Britain or Ireland.

Doctor Jim Wilson, chief scientist at BritainsDNA, said: ‘Despite arriving well over 1,000 years ago the Viking legacy still remains strong in Britain and Ireland.

‘The research suggests that the concentration of Norse blood is quite variable, but as the Y chromosome only relates to the nation’s male population and only to one ancestral lineage for each man, there is a very real chance that many more of us are related to the Vikings.’

222222Men from the far north of Scotland were most likely to provide a direct match with almost a third (29.2%) of the men from the Shetland Islands testing positive for Viking blood


Michael Hirst, creator and writer of the TV show Vikings, said: ‘The research demonstrates the profound effect that the Vikings had on our country when they invaded centuries ago.

‘To think that many of us may still have the blood of these feared and famed warriors flowing through our veins so long after their reign is an incredible and profound thought.’


1. Shetland – 29.2 per cent

2. Orkney – 25.2 per cent

3. Caithness – 17.5 per cent

4. Isle of Man – 12.3 per cent

5. Western Isles – 11.3 per cent

6. North West Scotland and Inner Hebrides – 9.9 per cent

7. Argyll – 5.8 per cent

8. Yorkshire – 5.6 per cent

9. North East Scotland – 4.9 per cent

10. North England – 4 per cent

11. East England – 3.6 per cent

12. South West Scotland – 3.2 per cent

13. South East Scotland – 2.7 per cent

14. Central England – 2.6 per cent

15. Central Scotland – 2.2 per cent

16. South East England – 1.9 per cent

17. South West England – 1.6 per cent

18. Ireland (Ulster) – 1.4 per cent

19. Ireland (Munster) – 1.3 per cent

20. Ireland (Connacht) – 1.2 per cent

21. Wales – 1 per cent

22. Ireland (Leinster) – 1 per cent

People dressed as Vikings carry burning brands as they take part in a Norse reconstruction festival