You’ve seen the adverts on the ancestry sites that tell you that you can identify whether your related to Vikings or not. Some people have even done the test and discovered their ancient lineage. However, according to a leading expert in the field of DNA research, this is not scientifically possible.
According to the Telegraph, Dr. Tom Booth, a bio-archaeologist who specializes in ancient DNA, has warned people not to trust these DNA tests. In fact, he goes as far as calling these DNA tests “bunkum” in relation to their accuracy.
“What I really don’t like about these companies is that they market themselves as linking you to medieval populations, which is complete bunkum, you can’t do that.”
So, why aren’t these test accurate?
According to Dr. Booth, these tests become inaccurate beyond three centuries. That’s 300 years. For those who like to believe they are related to the Vikings, you would likely need a test that is accurate for more than 1,000 years, since the Viking age is believed to have started late in the 790s and concluded around 1066 with the Norman conquest.
Dr. Booth revealed this information during the recent Chalke Valley History Festival. Booth, along with Dr. Selina Brace, worked on the DNA testing of Britain’s oldest known skeleton, the Cheddar Man. It was during a talk on this topic where he revealed how DNA testing on ancient bones along with today’s technology had allowed scientists to discover the identity of the skeleton.
He also explained how the DNA testing on the Cheddar Man was much more intensive than that of the usual saliva testing done by ancestry sites. In the case of the Cheddar Man, scientists had to drill into bone, as well as analyze his teeth, in order to extract usable DNA to help identify him.
According to Dr. Booth, results begin to get “too cloudy” around “three centuries into the past,” which is why he doesn’t believe these tests can accurately reveal whether you are of Viking heritage or not.
“The adverts that show they can tell you whether you are Viking or Saxons, I’ve got a problem with that because they can’t,” Dr. Booth revealed.
He also points out that if a person survived the Viking age and created offspring, then they could, potentially, be your descendant.
“Because everyone in the 9th century, if they’ve successfully passed on a descendant, is your ancestor.”
According to Inside Edition, these DNA tests rely on genetic markers to create a person’s profile. And, as has been discovered, if you shop around to different tests, you can get widely different results, which Inside Edition discovered when they had triplets tested by different sites.
However, depending on how accurate you want the information to be, users can assume that the DNA test can provide a broad spectrum as to where you might originate from.
So, if you are still insistent on having a DNA test done, you just need to be aware that these tests should only be used as a rough guide to your own ancestry and not taken as the absolute truth.