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Ancestral Scotland Ltd. is a Company Limited by Guarantee (SC244818) first registered in 2003

The Directors are: David John Bruce Durie
David Donald Alexander James Durie

Ancestral Scotland Ltd. is based in Edinburgh, Scotland





DNA test interpretation

Confused by what your DNA results mean? Have them interpreted. Unclear on Y-DNA, autosomal DNA and mitochondrial-DNA? Guidance is here.

Y-DNA - this can link you to genetic relatives as far back as 1,000 years distant.

autosomal DNA - cousin matches 5 to 6 generations back, plus "ethnicity estimates" which are unreliable

mitochondrial DNA - maternal line from a male or a female


The Y-chromosome in human is only found in males and is uniquely inherited from a man's father, from his father, and so on.

  In theory, this tracks a man's paternal line and his surname. This test obviously cannot be taken by females, but they could find a male close relative (for example, brother, father, grandfather paternal cousin, paternal uncle) with the appropriate surname, and ask that relative to be tested.


Y-DNA testing

Take a Y-DNA test. Ancestral Scotland Ltd. recommends and will only interpret test results from Family Tree DNA -

  The more markers tested, the more refined you answer will be - most people start with Y-37, but Y-111 costs about twice as much, for far more information.

  These are STR (short tandem repeat) tests. A some point, you may want an actual Haplogroup determination, in which a direct SNP test is advised. EL Big Y-700 is the gold standard, but there are other, cheaper tests.

  Once the results are back, you can:

  • check for matches - who is similar to how, and how close or distant

  • join one or more Surname, Geographical or Haplogroup projects along with others like you

  • use the range of resources available to explore your genetic heritage further.

Linking Y-DNA to surname

Of course, along the way there may be genetic "accidents" (such as illegitimacies), as well as well as surname changes for a variety of good reasons, as well as adoptions and other events along the way.

  For example, in the Highlands of Scotland in particular, it was not uncommon for someone to adopt the surname of the local landowner or Chief, especially before surnames as we now know them became fixed. This means there may be people who consider themselves to be from a particular Clan but do not share Y-DNA with other Clan members.

  Also, in many landed and titled Scottish families, a husband may have taken the wife's surname if it is associated with property, titles, a Coat of Arms, etc. and so that the children will have that surname and inherit - this is known as an "entail".

  All of this means that:

    1. not everyone with the same surname will necessarily have the same Y-DNA signature

    2. not everyone with the same Y-DNA signature will necessarily have the same surname.


What is "Scottish" Y-DNA?

There is no single answer to that...



Images above from


The Scots are a mosaic of peoples who came together in the same place at different times.

• The indigenous people were the “Picts” or “Caledonii”, in Scotland for thousands of years BC

• They were joined in Strathclyde (the area south of Glasgow) by related Brythonics (Britons) speaking a language similar to Welsh ca. 700 BC

• Romans made hardly any genetic or cultural impact, except that there are hints of Mediterranean, Middle-Eastern and Central European Y-DNA that may reflect mercenaries who fought in the Roma army

• Gaels from Ireland consolidated in “Ard-Gael” (Argyll) from ca. 500 AD, then spread north and west into the Highlands and Islands - up to 40% of all Scottish males (and those with paternal Scottish ancestry) will have a Gael origin

• Angles from Northumbria mixed with Picts and Britons in the south-east

• Norse invaders (mistakenly called "Vikings") came from ca. 800 AD and forced the Kingdom of Alba to form in defence

• Anglo-Normans arrived from ca. 1120 AD

• Later, Scots were joined by other migrant peoples - Huguenot, Italian, Jewish, Polish and others


Surname branches
Y-DNA testing is at its most useful when it puts an individual within a particular known branch - for example, "Montrose" Graham as opposed to "Borders" Graham, or one of three main three McLeod lines.

  Some surname are of independent, multiple origin and have no genetic link to each other. This is especially the case with occupational surnames (Baxter, Webster, Smith). But it is also the case that a surname (such as Currie or Paton) emerged more than once in different part of Scotland.

  In such cases, Y-DNA testing can confirm within which established origin - or none - the testee falls.


Y-DNA and location

A Y-signature really represents a snapshot of related males living in a particular location hundreds or even thousands of years ago, and surnames are a recently modern development.

  However surnames may still concentrate in the area where they first appeared, and Y-DNA can indicate that. Of course, people have moved around, particularly after the Lowland Clearances of the 1700s, the Highland Clearances of the early 1800s and the growth of cities during the Industrial Revolution.


Some people also take these tests:

 autosomal DNA (Family Finder) - cousin matches 5 to 6 generations back, plus "ethnicity estimates" which are generally unreliable

  mitochondrial DNA - maternal line back from a male or a female


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