The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

Scotland’s DNA: In search of our roots

Author and historian Alistair Moffat is leading a groundbreaking plan to test the DNA of thousands of Scots. The project, never attempted before, was launched this week in The Scotsman newspaper as part of a series on the origins of our nation.

It is hoped thousands of ordinary Scots will come forward to have their DNA tested. It does not matter whether you have been in Scotland for one week or your family has lived here for centuries – the testing process can reveal fascinating data. From a simple saliva sample our scientists can trace your ancestry over many thousands of years and through new and developing technology, we can answer a fundamental question – where do we come from?

It is hoped that 20,000 Scots will come forward to be tested to answer questions such as: Are you a Pict? Are you a Viking? Or even a descendent of Genghis Khan.

As far as we know this is a unique project. No other country in the world has ever done this. And thanks to modern technology we have the ability to discover who we are and where we came from. Africa!

 In 70,000BC the Indonesian volcano known as Mount Toba blew itself apart in a super-colossal eruption that almost ended life on Earth. As millions of tons of tephra, pumice and ash rocketed into the atmosphere and dense black clouds blocked the sun for several years, plants withered and the animals and people who depended on them died.

Geography saved us from extinction. In the steep-sided rift valleys of Eastern Africa a remnant of perhaps only 5,000 human beings survived the nuclear horrors of the eruption. All of us are their descendants.

Soon after the cataclysm of Toba, as the planet began to recover, a tiny group of only three or four hundred left the sanctuary of the rift valleys and walked northwards. When they reached the Horn of Africa, modern Djibouti, they crossed the Red Sea to the Arabian peninsula. From there these pioneers walked into empty landscapes, forded great rivers and braved endless new horizons, and eventually their descendants populated the whole of the rest of the world.This is the journey of all of us, with its twists, turns, pauses, advances and retreats that our DNA allows us to trace, the great journey out of Africa to Scotland.

And so all Scots are immigrants. As a nation at the farthest reach of Europe, our origins are diverse, unexpected and fascinating. By taking a simple DNA test, you will also become part of a great national project. By gathering large numbers of samples, all treated anonymously, we aim to answer another fundamental question – who are the Scots?

However, all this leaves me with a key question: Will I be able to identify my Douglas ancestors? Or should I, perhaps, stick with the Douglas DNA project


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Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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