Residents of a Quaint English Village Get Surprising DNA Test Results

Fagjun | Published 2017-08-28 22:11

Photo by Simon Pizzey/AncesteryDNA/PA



The residents of Bledington, an English village in the Cotswolds, were quite surprised to find that they weren't as English as they thought they were. Some believed that they were probably 100% English, but DNA test results revealed a more diverse genetic history.


Of course, the villagers were predominantly white—on paper, that is. It turned out that on average, they were only 42% Anglo-Saxon. Perhaps less surprisingly, the results also revealed previously unknown family ties among the villagers. While the villagers learned of their more diverse individual backgrounds, they also found a new sense of community after discovering new relations in the village.


AncestryDNA, a company that supplies DNA testing kits to customers and analyzes their genetic backgrounds, conducted a study that looked into the DNA of 120 Bledington residents. The participants were between the ages of 19 and 93, and half were born elsewhere but came to live in the town. Others came from families that had lived in the same village for generations.


Surprises of the DNA Test Results

Photo by gopixa/Shutterstock



The results revealed that 61 participants had previously unknown relatives in the village. The closest genetic connection the results uncovered was between a man named Graham Harris and a woman named Gloria Warren. They share a great-great-grandparent, which meant that they were third cousins.


93-year-old Sylvia Reeves, meanwhile, has lived in Bledington for half a century. However, she wasn't born in the village. In spite of this, she turned out to be related to a man named Steve Tyack, whose roots were from the Bledington area.


Six other participants also discovered fourth cousins or closer. Camilla Bowditch and Andrew Packe, for example, had no idea that they were fourth cousins though they lived just minutes away from each other. Mrs. Bowditch also isn't from Bledington, though Mr. Packe is.


About 56% of the participants were convinced that they were English through and through. However, this was actually not the case. The DNA test results found that the participants came from 18 different DNA regions. A woman named Kristen Turner, for example, found that she was 7% South Asian. Another man delightedly declared, “I've got some Viking!”


Other DNA regions include European countries like Spain, Finland, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The results also revealed Asian, Native American, Middle Eastern, African, and Melanesian descent. On average, the participants were only less than half Anglo-Saxon, far less than the full Anglo-Saxons they thought they'd be.


Accurate or Not?

Photo by Simon Pizzey/AncesteryDNA/PA



AncestryDNA uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which uses a saliva sample to survey an individual's genome. Thus, the test targets autosomal DNA, which is part of the 22 chromosomes unrelated to determining the individual's sex. Autosomal DNA testing involves about 700,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the individual's entire genome.


There have been criticisms that DNA test results, like the ones from companies like AncestryDNA and 23andme, aren't that accurate. For example, some say that it's not really possible to determine where a person's genetic roots are from beyond the continental level. This means that DNA testing can't actually tell if you're genetically from a specific country. However, it's possible that companies like AncestryDNA are able to match genetic markers to the common ones in particular countries.

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!