DNA from ancient skeletal remains has revealed that many Vikings were not natives of Scandinavia but from other latitudes or conquered areas. Also they had brown hair, not blonde.
State-of-the-art DNA sequencing of more than 400 Viking skeletons of archaeological sites scattered throughout Europe and Greenland has made it clear that Viking identity was not limited to people of Scandinavian genetic ancestry.
The study shows that the genetic history of Scandinavia was influenced by strange genes from Asia and southern Europe before the Viking Age. The raiding parties of the early Viking era were an activity for the locals and included close family members. The genetic heritage in the UK has left the population with up to six percent Viking DNA.
The six-year research project, now published in ‘Nature’, discredits the modern image of Vikings and it was directed by the teacher Eske Willerslev, member of the St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and Director of the Center for Geogenetics of the Lundbeck Foundation, University of Copenhagen.
“We have this image of well-connected Vikings mingling with each other, trading and participating in raiding parties to fight kings across Europe because this is what we see on TV and read in books, but genetically we have shown for the first time that it wasn’t that kind of world. This study changes the perception of who a Viking really was; no one could have predicted that these major gene flows into Scandinavia from southern Europe and Asia occurred before and during the Viking era, “he said in a statement.