Based on the work of Dr Jim Wilson, our Chief Scientist, we published a map of Viking DNA across Britain and Ireland (see below). The statistics for Shetland and Orkney are the highest, as might be expected, but we were surprised at how high. In Shetland 29.2% of all men are directly descended from the sea-raiders and on Orkney it is 25%. But in parts of England as many as one in twenty are direct male line descendants. In Yorkshire and Northern England more than 300,000 men can claim direct descent. Here is the map and a complete list by region.


Almost one million British and Irish men are of direct male line Viking descent. That’s 1 in every 33 men whose DNA markers confirm that ‘when the sea foamed with the beat of hostile oars’, as one terrified chronicler wrote, they left more than a trail of blood, fire and destruction behind them. They left their genes.

On 8th June, 793, the Vikings sailed into history when they attacked the monastery on Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland. As sea-lords stood in the prows of their longships roaring for their oarsmen to pull hard for the shore so that they could drive their keels up onto the shingle beach, the shocked and frightened monks ran for the sanctuary of their church and tried to get the doors bolted before the men they called the Sons of Death reached them. When they hacked their way into St Cuthbert’s Church with their axes, slaughtered the monks and stole their treasures, more than two centuries of raiding and settlement began.