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Do You Have Viking Blood?

Do You Have Viking Blood?

It’s no secret that the Vikings were prolific (and terrific) progenitors. They traveled far in search of riches, and often those they encountered were of interest to them in more ways than one. The historical and archeological records tell us the Vikings settled many parts of the world, and some of these settlements have been reinforced with modern genetic evidence as well. When it comes to the Vikings, it turns out they did not simply show up, pillage, rape, and leave, but instead colonized favorable areas, in some cases leaving behind a genetic lineage. Thus begs the question: do you have Viking blood?

Update 7/31/17: It must be noted that the idea of any one person having “Viking blood”, although an intriguing thought, is extremely difficult to prove for certain (read 3 often ignored truths about the study of Vikings). After all, the Vikings roved 1,200 years ago – plenty of time for populations to move and for gene pools to dilute. Scandinavian DNA can show up for any number of reasons, and may not be attributable to the Vikings. Genetic studies themselves are up for debate as well. For example, a recent 2015 genetic study in England found “no clear genetic evidence” of the Danish Viking occupation. A heated debate continues today over the findings of this study, which fly in the face of historic and archeological evidence. All this to say, the following probabilities of having Viking blood offered are not scientific or necessarily accurate, particularly as the scholarship on the subject evolves.

 

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Do you have Viking blood?

If you don’t think you have Viking blood in you, think again. The Scandinavians of the Viking Age spread their seed and their people across the known world. Below is a list of modern countries and how likely you are to be a Viking descendant if you are from one of them.

Vikings in the U.K.

The city of York was once the Norse city of Jorvik, and the Vikings at one time had carved out half of Britain for themselves in a territory called Danelaw. In 1066, England was invaded by William the Conquerer and his army of francophone Vikings, the Normans (French for ‘north men’). If you are English or Scottish, it is VERY likely you have Viking blood in you. In fact, recent studies have shown that nearly one quarter of all Britts may be directly descended from the Vikings.

Vikings in Ireland

The cities of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, among others were founded by the Vikings. If you are Irish, it is VERY likely you have Viking in you. Interestingly, there are some who theorize that the iconic Irish red hair was a Norse import rather than a Celtic one, although without proper genetic testing it is just an unproven theory. Ireland struggled for many years to rid themselves of the Vikings. Particularly, the great kings of Leinster such as Muiredach Mac Ruadrach swore specific oaths to the church to help push back against the pagan invasion. In 847, the Irish scored several key victories across the island which effectively expelled most of the Norse settlers from their lands, but fewer than two decades later they returned. Viking settlements in Ireland played the game of politics well and over the course of the next century and a half they established themselves firmly in Irish lands and the Irish gene pool.

Vikings in France

Normandy is the obvious region of France one thinks of when thinking of the Vikings. But Brittany (Bretagne) and the Vendée regions of France were also heavily settled by displaced Scandinavians in search of a new home. They even occupied the city of Nantes for several decades. If you are from Western France, it is VERY likely you have Viking blood in you. If you are from Central or Eastern France, it is not likely—those regions are genetically German. Along the coast, the Vikings built more lofty settlements than they had in Ireland, most likely due to the fact that the Carolingian empire was a much more difficult foe to face than the kings of Leinster. According to sources, the Norsemen who pushed into Brittany were from Norway, having sailed around the British Isles and down through the Irish Sea to reach it. As they carved out swathes of land for themselves in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, the Norwegians came into conflict with the Danes in Normandy. It was by exploiting this conflict that the Bretons were able to push back their invaders and eventually expel them from the region. Still, their century-long presence left an indelible mark on the local genetic pool.

Vikings in The Netherlands

The Netherlands were heavily raided for centuries and colonized on multiple occasions by the Danes. In the long run, however, the Franks maintained too strong a dominion over the region, causing the Scandinavians to flee. If you are dutch, it is SOMEWHAT likely that you have Viking in you.

Vikings in Spain

The coast of Asturias was attacked several times by the Vikings. What’s more, they successfully sacked Lisbon and captured Seville and inflicted great fear in the Moors. However, they did not colonize Spain heavily, therefore if you are from Spain or Portugal, you only have a SLIM chance of having Viking blood, but a chance nonetheless. Following the humiliating defeats at the hands of the Norsemen, the Moors quickly built up their navy, which successfully repelled Viking attacks in the second half of the 9th century. Hastein, a supposed son of Ragnar Lothbrok, partook in an infamous excursion into the Mediterranean which ended mostly in disaster due to the strength of the Moorish fleet guarding the straight of Gibraltar.

Vikings in Italy

If you are from an area in Italy that was once part of the Norman kingdom of Italy, you are VERY likely to have Viking blood in you. The Vikings also made a famous incursion into the Mediterranean basin, led by the notorious Hastein, in the 9th Century. They did not colonize Italy, but they did sack the city of Luna and likely raped some local women. This may have added to the Viking genetic pool in Italy.

Vikings in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus

Russia was named after the Swedish Vikings known as the Rus. The Rus helped to found the city states of Kiev and Novgorod, as well as Moscow. The Tsars considered themselves direct and proud descendants of the Rus. If you are from these regions, you are EXTREMELY likely to have Viking blood in you, especially if you are light skinned. Over several centuries, the Rus exerted their power over the slavic states and added a great deal of their genetic material to the mix. They traveled as far as Constantinople and even served as the Emperor’s personal body guards, today referred to as the Varangian Guard.

Vikings in The Balkans

The Rus traveled as far as Constantinople, and many stayed there to father children…lots and lots of children. There is a very slight genetic pool from Scandianvia in the Balkans today, but it is limited. The Rus are also thought to have traveled as far as Baghdad and what is now Georgia.

Viking Blood in Mongolia?

Although the Vikings never traveled as far as Mongolia, the Mongolian Golden Horde did invade and occupy Eastern Europe and brought back to Mongolia their favorite new pets — blue-eyed blonds. Today there is a recessive gene in Mongolia by which children are born with light hair and blue eyes. Since we know the Vikings settled in Russia, we know that Norse genes were present in the areas conquered by the Mongols. Those with Norse traits may have been choice slaves, selected by the Mongols to take home and show off (and rape and make children and so on). It may be inferred that the recessive blue-eyed blond hair genome in Mongolia today is from the Vikings (although the genome existed in the Northern Caucasus long before that, so we can’t be sure). For that, of course, we have Genghis Kahn to thank.

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This Post Has 42 Comments
  1. I am from Sweden, my father has an old family book that goes back to the Vikings. I at first didn’t believe him then my whole family had our DNA tested sure enough we are Swedish Vikings!

  2. In all likely hood I have Viking blood on my mother’s side! She and her sister have blonde hair and blue eyes! One of my brothers too! We come from the North East of England around the Sunderland area! I think it is neat, proud of it!

    1. Hi Shirley i was reading all the history on Vikings and i to was born in Sunderland great to read your post, i live Australia now 🙂

  3. dont forget the vikings made it all the way to the coast line of labrador, all the way down to northern maine in the US … so its possible that some relatives in the provinces of the east coast could also contain viking ancestry

  4. Really well presented…may I ask where you researched? I ask only so I can research myself and present the finds through our Organizations pages…
    Thank you for sharing this.

    1. It’s a combination of a lot of research over a number of years and a very broad summary for each. But some good resources to start are Ferguson’s “Vikings” and then exploring his well-researched, very complete bibliography.

      1. Yes I have DNA proof and I have Viking blood. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Many time over great grandfather was a Norman named fulbert de falaise

  5. Wexford in Ireland is not a city, and you left out Waterford City which is the oldest city in Ireland, and was founded by Vikings

  6. Recently did a DNA test which show 40% in the Western Russia/Baltic states and Ukraine…and another 25-30% Eastern Britain and Ireland as well as 2% Scandinavian…chances of Viking Blood?

    1. It really depends on what markers they’re looking at to determine all of those percentages, and how far back those markers go. For example, if the folks who did the test for mitochondrial DNA going back only ten generations, then yes I would say you have a good chance of Viking blood in all of the above. However, if they’re looking at mitochondrial DNA going back 30-50 generations, then they’d be looking at your origins from during or before the Viking Age, in which case your percentages would mean you have exactly what they’re telling you. Thus, I would need to see the DNA test itself to really be able to answer your question.

      1. Any chance you could look at my DNA? I suspect Viking but don’t know how to determine!

        European
        99.9%
        Northwestern European
        96.9%
        British & Irish
        65.1%
        French & German
        12.8%
        Scandinavian
        1.2%
        Finnish
        0.0%
        Broadly Northwestern European
        17.7%
        Eastern European
        2.6%

        1. I am not an expert on this subject, but I would say from what you’ve provided that “Viking” would come from that 1.2% Scandiavian trait, and *maybe* the 17.7% Broadly Northwestern European.

  7. I am British, my father is English from the Midlands, and my mother is Welsh, 1/4 Engllsh from Yorkshire, and her father’s ancestors were from Ireland. I was born and raised in South Wales UK. My DNA shows I am 36% Scandinavian, 25% Irish, 16% British, 13% West European, 4% Italian/Greek, 1% Caucuses, 1% Central Asia, and less than 1% of a few others including Native American. So in talking with Ancestry, they agree – a strong possibility of Viking blood in me..But what does that legacy mean to me? What pieces of me show this heritage? I do have trigger fingers and had carpal tunnel surgeries, and these are usually seen in people who also have Dupuytren’s contracture, also known as the “Viking Disease”. I am fair skinned, light brown hair, green eyes, short, I just wonder what else can I attribute to my Scandinavian Genes? BTW, always was drawn to the VIkings and Scandinavia, I have a lot of Danish furniture in my home – way before I knew anything about my DNA. And always wanted to go there, etc. So weird..

  8. I have just found out my father’s side is adopted, and to hear that was a shame… until my dad’s life long friend told me that he did research and took the dna test result from my father and looked at them and found out my father and I are Scandanavian with a large chance of viking blood!

    1. That’s awesome! It’s always fun to find surprises like that, and I hope it is just the beginning for you in terms of starting a journey to discover your paternal heritage. Thanks for the comment 🙂

  9. Please keep in mind that blonde hair and blue eyes are still a rare trait, and even though a majority of the Vikings had these traits; they were also to be found with brunette hair and brown eyes.

  10. I would really like to find out if I have Viking ancestry a lot of places Germany and Portuguese English and I believe polish or Swedish so I would really like to know if anyone knows of anyone that does research for people’s ancestry and I know there’s ancestry.com and genealogy and all that butt I have tried that and haven’t gotten to be able to go as far back as I would like to

  11. Hi, I do have Viking blood! I have our geniology back to 62 B.C. My maternal grandmother’s maiden name is Kvien from Valdres in Norway. Olaf Harold son, aka Olaf the stout, aka Saint Olaf is a direct great grandfather as is Ragnar Lothbruk, as is Olaf the White from Dublin and Waterford Ireland,Malcolm the first Scottish Highlands, Fiona of Moray, Granddaughter of Rory O’Connor from
    Connaught. Ireland, Bjarne the far traveled from Greenland, as well as quite a few others mentioned in the Sagas. I may be bragging, but I am proud of my ancestors, and their ability to keep track of family, and hand it down to future family members.

  12. I would like to know how to trace your heritage that far back? I have ancestry account and I also use roots web world connect to try an find out as much information as possible. I have done the ancestry DNA test which shows this
    Europe 100%
    Great Britain 56%
    Scandinavia 24%
    Europe West 6%
    Low Confidence Region
    Iberian Peninsula 3%
    European Jewish 3%
    Italy/Greece 3%
    Europe East 3%
    Ireland 2%
    I have blue eyes, fair skin and my hair color is dirty blonde it was lighter when I was younger, I have found out that my maiden name is of French Huguenots.

    1. If you know who your related to search from their family history. Im related to Erik Thordvalsson aka Erik the Red and I found out my family discovered north America and Iceland long before any other Europeans
      The farthest I’ve found so far was naddodd who discovered Iceland

  13. I am from the USA, what are my chances of Viking ancestry? DNA results show 99% European- 69% Great Britain, 14% Ireland, 7% Scandinavia, 5% Finland/Northwest Russia, 3% Europe West, 1% Iberian Peninsula, 0% America

  14. I would like to find out if I have Viking blood. I am predominantly British, Welsh and have some Irish (43 percent British and Welsh), Europe West (23andme has me at 18 percent French and German, ancestry at 35 percent Europe West), Scandinavian depending on website between 0.6 and 19 percent, Yakut and Native American as per 23andme at 0.1 perecent. Ancestry also shows me as Iberian Island at 7 percent whereas dnaland has me at 20 percent IItalianthe latter is very likely not accurate. My Dad is over 50 percent British (we are from the original settled in the US). My mother who I never met is from Germany and possibly Polish, Belgian, Dutch and/or Scandinavian. I am very tall and had dark blonde hair (it became darker and is now all pepper and salt) and have green eyes. Dad thinks my mother looks Norwegian which would explain her height and her father’s height at 6 ft and latter. My mtdna is J2c2c2 with quite a few DNA matches in Sweden.

  15. Yes, I am without a doubt Viking. I was able to trace my ancestry all the way back to Sigurd the Mighty who is a descendant of Ragnar Lodbrok. Viking proud!

  16. I am definately of Viking heritage, I am related to Ragnar Lodbrok through my grandfathers family lineage! I was watching the show Vikings and I told my son look those are our people jokingly and come to find out that I was right. Pretty interesting!

  17. Thanks to ancestors devoted to geneology, I have records of my ancestry dating back hundreds of years on both sides of my family. My mother’s family is all WASP dating back to 1630 in the USA with a big of Huguenot and my father’s family is all German Russian (Russians of German-type descent). I had my DNA done and fully expected 45% British Isles with maybe a touch of Scandinavian due to my blonde hair/blue-green eyes, and 45% Western European due to the Germanic stuff (allegedly first from Austria, to Holland, Germany, then Russia) with maybe a touch of Eastern Europe. NO record of Scandinavian ancestors. So it was a huge surprise to me when it came back 45% Scandinavian. Only 8% British Isles, 10% Western European. 9% Eastern European, 13% Spain/Portugal (another surprise) and 11% Greece/Italy (also a surprise). 4% trace Irish. However, when I look at all of the areas my ancestors came from (Great Britain, Normandy, Scotland on my mother’s side, mostly Baltic region on my Father’s side), they are all areas that were heavily settled by the Vikings. Still- it was a big surprise.

  18. Daddy tested out at 47% Scandinavian and 27% Irish. I expected Scots-Irish (Ulster Scots), and Scots. But given migration patterns, it’s not all that unsurprising. Now I want to know which line(s) are responsible.

  19. Me and my mom was tested… im mixedrace but in my european genes i got 19% scandinavian and 21% northslavic.
    My mom got 46% scandinavian and 37% northslavic.

    Shes typical light hair, pinky skin, blue eyed.
    in out normal familytree im not so far, but we have ppl from netherland, and polish also.
    In gedmatch i found out that my moms roots more like norway and swedish. Mine are more like danish.
    but its cool.
    i was allways think we are germany ppl. With germany roots but so, we are scandinavians. Thats nice.

  20. Why is Germany not mentioned in the list of countries ? Germanic tribes, which include England and Germany have Norse ancestors.

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