Tanka: Anonymous DNA

photo of family on seashore
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I walk this fair earth
a step along winding paths
my lone DNA
passing anonymously
to a distant family

copyright Francis Barker 2019

My DNA Results – So, Am I Surprised?

photo of family on seashore
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

A few days ago I received my long awaited DNA results from 23andme.com.

The process was relatively easy; they kept me up to date with how it was going with regular emails. In total it took around five weeks from ordering the kit to receiving the results.

So it was with a little excitement, and a some trepidation, when my finger finally clicked the email link which took me to the website login.

It has long been contended within my family that there might be some more, shall we say, far flung genes within our pool. What might they be?

Geordies

All of the family I’ve known have been British, mostly, though not exclusively, English. My Geordie (Newcastle area born) Grandmother, for instance, had a Scottish maiden name, which nevertheless did not prevent her from occasionally casting one or two harsh words aimed at her genetic cousins just a short distance north of the border. Borders are always areas of contention.

My mother’s side of the family were largely dark haired, often with dark eyes too. I myself have dark brown hair with hazel-green eyes, which appear to come from my father.

Pure Speculation

On top of this there was some speculation that there might be Irish, or perhaps Romany blood. I don’t know where such speculation might have started though.

To put it another way though, I would not have been surprised to find some such significant traces in our family history.

Imagine my surprise then when I read down the composition of my ancestry according to the research based on my sample of saliva. Here it is in basic terms:

100% European.

97.9% Northwest European.

59.8% British and Irish – the strongest hits being Greater London and Glasgow, with lesser ones in the north midlands, north west and north eastern England, perhaps Cornwall. In Ireland it was found that Limerick, Dublin, Roscommon and County Wexford also represent some significance.

The above is to be found mostly within the last 1-3 generations, down to my great grandparents.

12.1% French and German. No actual place name hits could be found here, though looking at some of those within 23andme.com (my ‘relatives’ or possible distant cousins) with small percentages of similar DNA, Germany seems to come up quite often, whereas France does not. This may be misleading, however.

This DNA would most likely be found in generations 4-7, from my great great grandparents backwards.

‘Viking Blood’

3.6% Scandinavian. No actual place name hits here either, though once more this is a large area, with the best chance of finding it within generations 4-7.

22.5% Broadly Northwestern European. This generality is explained by significant migrations over longer periods of time which might ‘smooth over’ more specific areas of placement.

Maybe these ancestors tended to live in or around seaports (where there’s more influx of people – my speculation), anywhere from Germany to Iceland, from Norway to France. This is a significant percentage, almost a quarter of my DNA, so it would be nice to narrow this down, if possible.

1.6% Southern European. Another generality.

0.5% Broadly European.

All the other tested populations came up with zero percentages.

Irish Eyes

I knew of the Scottish connection, though not of Glasgow, I assumed it was more to do with Edinburgh, the Lothians or the Borders. I had speculated about the Irish. It would be great to follow up both of these with more investigation.

The London connection is a great surprise, however. I know of only one family member, a great grandmother on my father’s side, who was born anywhere near London, South Weald in Essex. I don’t think this would be enough to score the highest hit. So there might be one or two things to investigate here – maybe the London connection is indeed stronger than I think.

Exciting

And as for the French, German, Scandinavian, and southern European links I simply have no idea, so that’s exciting in itself. It’s at times like this I wish I’d asked my parents or grandparents more questions about family related matters.

However, one of the great things you can do with 23andme is link up with others of similar DNA strands and share information, if both parties are willing to do so. You can display as much or as little information as you wish. This can and does often lead to revelation, I am told.

Is It Worth It?

So is it worth around the ninety pounds I paid in all?  If you are seriously interested in family history, then yes, definitely.

And don’t think these results are the end – this is only the beginning. They are continually updated; if you’re prepared to participate with other members, plus also to join up for further research, such as in health, then this process should keep you intrigued and consumed for many years to come.

In the future, I hope to visit some of the places my DNA has been linked to, to visit Scotland and Ireland again, to go to parts of France, Germany and Scandinavia I’ve never seen.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Poem: ‘English Blue’ (for the fallen at Hastings and beyond)

stickingridge

Walk with me
into the grey breaking dawn

where that sticking ridge of blue –
an English blue

rolls on into soft distances
and strange dancing names

Stand with me
by those set whispering stones

in a steadfast line –
a sore English line

of rasping pipes and howling socks
mouthing our memory

like a warning to tomorrow
a land forlorn to all but itself

Then help me to bury him
not on some crying strand –

in firm English land
where hallows’ calls are grounded

our grief laid open
in the whitening bones of heroes

on this high scoured hill

 

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019, 2011

first published in ‘Poetry 24’ June 23 2011

Do We Ever Know Our Parents?

dadearth2

My father has been dead a long time now, but I’ve never stopped missing him.

I was brought up in an agricultural community of intensive farming, but with just enough ‘real nature’ around us to appreciate the clean air (usually), the silence, the freedom. I virtually grew up on a bike and cars were relatively rare down our road.

Through all that time my father seemed to be in the background, always there, but quiet, shy. He’d had various jobs before retirement, a butcher, farm labourer mainly, but he was an intelligent man of few words.

And I feel I never really knew or understood him.

I wish I’d asked more questions, about his early life, his family. But we never know or ask enough, do we? We take it for granted that our family are there. For us.

Then one day, one of them is not. It’s too late. Yes, of course, I’m stating the obvious, but most often we ignore the obvious all around us, don’t we?

My abiding memory is of my father on his piece land at the back of our house, digging, simply digging the rich soil, surrounded by the vast fertile fields and eyed by hungry, inquisitive birds.

Thanks Dad.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Discover Spalding’s Ayscoughfee Hall No.1

IMG_1273

So how do you pronounce that?

Visitors to Spalding in south Lincolnshire usually do a double take when they see the name, ‘Ayscoughfee’, relating to the wonderful late medieval building in the town centre.

Locals naturally all know it’s pronounced ‘Ascoffey’!

Once you get over that hurdle, there is much to admire in this Lincolnshire gem. There are wonderful gardens, monuments, an aviary, a museum and a cafe.

More pictures will follow soon.

 

THE RUSSIAN VIKING

Great stuff here and fascinating

Zoolon Audio

tree‘My Family Tree’

A few weeks back I got my father, and fellow blogger Mike Steeden a DNA testing kit for his birthday. I thought it would make for an unusual present. He takes a saliva sample and the kit gets sent off to the lab in America, Texas I think, and there they conduct an analysis of his DNA and end up telling him his origins. He’s always presumed he was probably ‘Norman with a hint of Anglo-Saxon’ – his words.  He tells me the results have just come in. How wrong he was. Rounding the numbers up, he’s 75% Northern European; only 15% English and 10% Scandinavian.

So, he’s now proudly claiming that he must be – his words – ‘Viking with a goodly chunk of my beloved Mother Russia’. He’s thrilled about it. He’s got a Cossack hat already so he’s looked the part for ages.

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