I worked on my father’s lines for awhile last week, in the search for Scandinavian ancestors. Denmark, Norway and Sweden are part of Scandinavia. From my father I have inherited 4.9% (he has 12.5%) and from my mother, 2.8% of Scandinavian DNA. The reason I worked on my father’s lines is because most of my paper family tree on his side is complete going back a couple of hundred years, so I thought it would be easier to confirm or rule out.
One of the things that 23andme does is assign a time frame for DNA. It states that my Scandinavian ancestor is most likely my great-grandparent, second great-grandparent, or third great-grandparent who was 100% Scandinavian and born between 1810 and 1870. My father’s report says the same thing but from 1820 to 1870.
I did make a lot of headway in finding some additional ancestors and was able to complete my father’s entire family going back to my fifth great-grandparent level, yay!!!! When I say complete, I mean names, I just still have to record a lot of the important dates into my software program for a lot of the fifth great-grandparents. But yay!!!!
Anyway, my father is mostly Dutch (Germanic French as it is called). As I’ve mentioned before, the Netherlands has excellent records going back centuries, so it is very easy to confirm/verify where an ancestor was born, married and died in the Netherlands. I was able to confirm that every single ancestor of my father’s in that time frame was born in the Netherlands (32 ancestors). There is absolutely no one from a Scandinavian country during that time frame. It’s possible there is one full Scandinavian ancestor in previous generations but it may be difficult to confirm that the further I go. I still have to go through those 64 ancestors, but I already know a lot were born in the Netherlands.
So I started reading more about Scandinavian DNA/DNA testing, wondering if any DNA in the Netherlands could be coming up as Scandinavian DNA.
As a reminder, DNA ancestry tests work by comparing the subject’s DNA with the DNA of individuals who are assumed to be able to stand in for reference populations. When long segments match, they can be assumed to be IBD (identical by descent). It doesn’t really tell you where the segment originates. Since the primary customer base of the commercial testing sites (Ancestry, 23andMe, etc.) are Americans of mixed ancestry, heavily concentrated with European ancestors, the companies are content to use large geographic areas as their reference populations: Britain and Ireland, France and Germany, South Asia, etc.).
I read that Scandinavian DNA is most commonly found in Sweden, Norway and Denmark, of course, but, interestingly, it is also found in Great Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, and Finland. Specific to the Netherlands, between the 9th and 11th centuries, the Vikings raided and settled in that area. Around the year 879, Friesland, which is part of the Netherlands, fell quickly under the control of the Vikings. The heavy Norse presence is evidenced in the high percentage of Scandinavian DNA in the northern area of the Netherlands there, as well as Zeeland and the province of Holland. This came from the MyHeritage website, citing Britannica’s “History of the Low Countries”.
Friesland is in the very northern area of the Netherlands. The Verkruissen line, my father’s mother’s family, are all from Friesland, going back to the 1700s, beginning with my great-grandmother, Jacoba Verkruissen. I have read that if the Scandinavian DNA is over 20%, that large of an amount probably would indicate a more recent ancestor. However, being a smaller amount, it is probably an inheritance of small amounts from different ancestors.
So perhaps the Scandinavian DNA comes from that line because of the location, and maybe it is an inheritance from the great-grandparents and great-great grandparents?
Of course, we have to always remember that it’s all an estimate, and the ancestry companies interpret this information from comparing the subject’s DNA with the DNA of individuals who are assumed to be able to stand in for reference populations. So we can’t really completely rely on it unfortunately. But as the testing companies become more advanced at it, it will become more exact. I’m not sure when that will be but it’s interesting nonetheless.
Until it’s all figured out one day, here’s one interesting article on Dutch DNA: https://dutchreview.com/culture/dutchness/are-the-dutch-actually-dutch/.
Believe it or not, I’m not nearly done with DNA testing although I’ve tested at two different companies. This time I’m not doing autosomal testing, which is what most do, but mtdna testing, testing specifically the matrilineal line, my mother’s line. Every woman passes down her mitochondrial DNA to her children, but only females continue to pass that down. It’s like y-dna for males. More about that in a future post!
Thanks for reading!