Not only have I been thither and yon in my nearly 65 years, but it seems that my ancestors have the wandering gene as well.
How do I know this? Genetic testing. I used 23andme, but I suspect all the ancestry sites that offer genetics testing have approximately the same sort of analysis of where our ancestors came from.
I’ve figured I was part Black or African-American or whatever the buzz word is now. In photos of my mother and her natal family she looks like she’s the African slave child in the very Caucasian family. She had very sallow skin and thick kinky curly black hair that matted in she didn’t keep it cut short. Dad said she looked like a quadroon (one quarter African); later he suggested that she was Mongolian.
When I sent off for my genetic family tree I was primed for just about any result. The fact that Mom’s people were newcomers to the New World (my great-grandparents were from the Old World) meant nothing since the part of Europe they came from was prime pickings for the Huns, the Moors, and various other incursions. Certainly there were admixtures there that could hold DNA from our origins in Africa.
And there was an African connection – about 50,000 years ago. However, during the last 500 years my maternal ancestors (mtDNA) had been busy ladies and made it from the central Asia around the world – and the mtDNA went in both directions – east and west. It is also one of the smaller mtDNA groups so the fact it is so wide-spread in the Northern Latitudes was interesting. Lots of us in Nova Scotia, it seems.
Hmmm, so it wasn’t the guys who had wanderlust, it was the gals. Okay, maybe the gals accompanied the guys in their boats and across Asia on caravans. But I don’t carry ptDNA so the guys are lost to me. What do do? What to do? Since my father reached his expiration date some time ago and was subsequently cremated there’s no help there. Instead, I spent a year begging my brother to get tested so I could get an idea from his ptDNA how well travelled the guys were.
He finally gave in and the results were…boring. Well, not totally, since Dad always commented his family’s deep roots were from Normandy and I found out that the Normans were actually the descendants of Rollo, the brother of the well-known Viking Ragnar Lothbrok. Dad’s ancestors were from the areas where Vikings and Normans came from – from the Scandinavian countries to Ireland – at least during the past 500 years.
Oh, yeah, and I’m 2.8% Neanderthal, which is probably where the red-hair gene comes from. This is probably where I should make a comment about my fascination with and attraction to red-heads which led to a daughter born with hair so red she glowed in her birth infant photo. Love those freckles – each and every one of them.
Sadly, I inherited not the tall Northman genes, but the short peasant genes. I guess that’s the Neanderthal coming through?
I find this all fascinating. And yes, I do watch Vikings on Hulu and enjoy the show, bloody as it is. And I also celebrate the Norse fire rituals as well as the Gaelic cross-quarter festivals each year.