Scotland in my Heart

Scottish History, Culture, Folklore, Scottish Gaelic and Information

Who are the Picts? Scotlands DNA finds an answer.

.A recently discovered DNA marker suggests that 10% of Scottish men are directly descended from the Picts.


Many generations of historians have puzzled over what used to be called the problem of the Picts. Where did they come from? Who were they? Why did they seem to disappear from history?

ScotlandsDNA has found a marker that strongly suggests that they did not fade from the map of our history, and that in fact the Picts are alive, well and living amongst us!

How is it possible to know this? How does the science work?

We all inherit a great deal of DNA from our parents, 6 billion letters in all, but some of it can be very informative about our deep ancestry. Fathers pass on Y chromosome DNA to their sons and fatherlines can be reliably traced back through thousands of years.

Dr Jim Wilson, Chief Scientist for ScotlandsDNA, found a new Y chromosome marker which arose amongst the direct ancestors of the Picts. He tested this new fatherline, labelled R1b-S530, in more than 3,000 British and Irish men. And he discovered an amazing statistic, something completely unexpected. R1b-S530 is ten times more common in men with Scottish grandfathers than it is in men with English grandfathers! 10% of over 1,000 Scottish men tested carry R1b-S530 while only 0.8% of Englishmen have it.

This difference is highly statistically significant and so can be applied to 3577e5ead64c092e4db77ebdf5b6b93dthe general population and it is clear evidence of a very Scottish marker. And there is more.

The pattern in Ireland is also instructive as about 3% of Ulstermen carry the lineage, but was only seen once in over 200 men from the rest of Ireland. It could be assumed that the presence in Ulster is due to the plantations of Lowland Scots in the 16th and 17th centuries. This is a pattern usually seen with markers that appear to be restricted to Scotland.

Ancient Pictland is often defined by historians as the area where the enigmatic Pictish symbol stones and Pictish place-names such as those that have the prefix Pit or Pett are found.

This heartland lies in Scotland north of the Forth and stones and pit-names are seen particularly in Fife, Perthshire, Tayside, Angus, the North East and around the Moray Firth coastlands.

And indeed, within Scotland there is a strong concentration of the R1b-S530 group in those very same areas, particularly in Central Scotland (17%) and North East Scotland (14%), with a decline towards North and Western Scotland at 8% and South East and South West Scotland at 6%. The difference between Central and Grampian regions and the rest of Scotland is very statistically significant (P = 4 x 10 ). We have yet to see this marker outside of the British Isles.

But where does it come Capture 2pfrom? What does it mean? A marker that is very common and widespread in Scotland implies that it has been in Scotland for a long time, and the R1b-S530 marker is estimated to be about 3,000 years old. This strongly suggests that it was common among the ancestors of the Picts, some of the original inhabitants of Scotland. It seems their descendants are living amongst us.

And it appears that some Scots, or at least some Scottish men, have not wandered far over the last few thousand years – otherwise this lineage would be more common in England.

Testimony to one of the most fascinating and enigmatic facets of the story Scotland and her people.”

Alasdair Irvine 

Many Thanks to  SCOTLANDS DNA for the above Information 

  • Alistair Moffat Managing Director, ScotlandsDNA
  • Helen Moffat Marketing Manager, ScotlandsDNA

Launched in November, 2011, ScotlandsDNA set out to innovate.

By combining historical analysis with the genetic information that can be gleaned from testing for ancestral DNA, we aimed to achieve a new understanding of Scotland’s history – a people’s history.


27 comments on “Who are the Picts? Scotlands DNA finds an answer.

  1. pictishbeastie
    January 10, 2016

    Reblogged this on pictishbeastie.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Who are the Picts? Scotlands DNA finds an answer. | pictishbeastie

    January 10, 2016

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd.


  4. daibhidhdeux
    January 10, 2016

    Fascinating and thank you but one quibble in that you state that its extensive presence in the North of Ireland may be down to the “Lowland” – whatever that means – Scots plantations there (these actually being more Anglo-Welsh and English planting especially in the first wave of Tudor settlements to divide the clans of Scotland and Ireland).

    I put it to you it predates these plantations and seems to evidence multiple commentaries from Roman and pre-Roman times which refer to the indigenous Pictish population in the North sometimes Latinized as the “Pritani” as were their kin in Scotland. “Cruithne” or “Cruithneach” referring to the Picts settled in that part of Ireland this research seems to confirm. They were also sometimes called the “Crutheni” in some texts.

    A fascinating area of history reverberating down unto today in multiple respects.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Irvine
      January 10, 2016

      Halò You say that I stated a point about the area of Lowland Scotland.
      If you read the post it was Dr.Jim Wilson, Chief Scientist for ScotlandsDNA that these facts of DNA testing came from ..
      And at the bottom I thanked the Directors of ScotlansDNA for these results.

      If you have any disagreement or query contact them on
      I only posted findings that were given to me by them for a book I am writing
      on Scottish and Gaelic Culture..
      Mòran taing …Slàinte mhòr agad.

      Liked by 1 person

      • daibhidhdeux
        January 10, 2016

        Thank you and please forgive me if I seemed to be critical of you per se. Was not my intention.

        Thank you for sharing these research results by the DNA team and shall follow them avidly.

        I have already shared your post widely and it has excited much enthusiastic interest.

        Looking forward to purchasing your book, too. Very much so.



      • Alasdair Irvine
        January 11, 2016

        Daibhidh ..It is OK. I did not think you were being Critical at all.
        Was just informing of where it came from 😀
        And thanks for your Kind Remarks


    • Doyle Phillips
      January 14, 2016

      You mention the Anglo-Welsh populating the Plantations of Ireland. I think my ancestry may be linked to Welsh who lived in Ireland before coming to colonial America. So far I have not found much on the internet about this (probably forced) migration to Ireland. Any thoughts on where i might find the history and, i hope, names of the Welsh who went to Ireland?


  5. Katherine Kirk
    January 10, 2016

    Well,can we have some pictures of modern Picts?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Who are the Picts? Scotlands DNA finds an answer. | Green Dragon's Cave, Author and Artist

  7. Colorado Hummingbird
    January 13, 2016

    Reblogged this on Colorado Hummingbird.


  8. Brenda Mills
    January 15, 2016

    Very interesting! My husband’s ancestors are Fife’s and McAlpine. I would love to visit Fife and research the line.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Susan Irvine McRae
    April 4, 2016

    Wondering why you say “Lowland, whatever that means…” I didn’t know there was any question about that so what do you mean by that?


  10. sheila coutts
    September 1, 2016

    hi i was doing my family history a few years ago and it mentioned picts in my family name which is coutts i was born in fife


  11. bhalsop
    September 2, 2016

    Reblogged this on bhalsop and commented:
    I’m awaiting my DNA results, and am told that Great Britain is my major source, but am hoping this will show up too.


  12. mirakriz
    September 9, 2016

    Wow, this is amazing and really new for me. Just started to follow your blog. THANK YOU!!!


  13. Cindi
    September 13, 2016

    Given my novice status when it comes to genealogy, I don’t know if this is possible, but it would be lovely if they could come up with a way for women to tell if they have Pict in their history, in the future. 🙂


    • Alasdair Irvine
      September 19, 2016

      Hello Greetings from Scotland Cindi ..
      They Have.. will look for Details …
      Slàinte mhath agad

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: Who are the Picts? Scotlands DNA finds an answer. | Kaarinav's Blog

  15. The Story Reading Ape
    September 13, 2016
  16. Patti Szyplowski
    September 13, 2016

    I always believed that that was the name the Romans gave the Scot’s it meant “Painted Ones”.. Interesting.


  17. Lyn Horner
    September 14, 2016

    Reblogged this on Lyn Horner's Corner and commented:
    Fascinating post!


  18. Redneck_Goth
    September 14, 2016

    Reblogged this on Crazy Little Redneck Goth.


  19. noelleg44
    September 18, 2016



  20. Al Brown
    December 3, 2016

    My Brown family think they came from Curtcudbrightshire Scotland and my cousins and I have tested. I only tested for 67 markers but my cousins tested as far as they can go. My haplogroup is R1b1a2 but my cousins are R1bL1. I thought it was interesting that they both had a null value at 439 but I didn’t. They are related to me by my great great grandfather’s brother. We have the same Y-DNA except for the null value. When I brought it up to Family Tree DNA they changed their null value to 13. It would be interesting to know for sure if we are Picttish. We are all in the Brown DNA Project.


  21. James Dane
    November 16, 2017

    I have been tested as L1335, isn’t this the same as S530 DNA??
    our elders have always told us we are Scots Irish & we intermarried & were neighbors with close to 40 other families that traveled together from Maryland in abt.1740, into Virginia, fought in American Revolution & got land in Ky. & Still live there.


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This entry was posted on January 10, 2016 by in Scottish Culture and tagged .
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