The Biggest Genetic Analysis of Vikings Has Been Released: What Should You Know

Vast DNA Analysis of Hundreds of Vikings Reveals They Weren't Who We Thought

Vikings, the fierce Scandinavian warriors, fearsome invaders with incredible white skin and pale hair, might be, well, not so pale or Scandinavian.

According to a recent study that involved the biggest genetic analysis to date, there is a mistake. Many Vikings would have had dark hair and weren’t of Scandinavian ancestry. Here is what you need to know.

Vikings’ True Appearance and Origin Examined

According to the biggest genetic analysis of over 400 Viking skeletons scattered across Europe, many Vikings would have had dark hair, not blonde, and their origin wasn’t Scandinavian. 

Eske Willersled is an evolutionary geneticist who investigated the Vikings. His studies have reshaped people’s understanding of populations’ historical genetic makeup globally, from Australia, North America, South East Asia, to South Pacific, and more. 

For the new study, Willersled and his team examined the remains of 442 Viking skeletons restored from archaeological sites in Scandinavia, Iceland, Russia, Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere, most of which date to the well-known Viking Age (approximately 793-1066 CE). 

“The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was,” said Willerslev. 

The Study’s Findings and Results

The DNA sequencing of the remains, including bones from children, men, babies, and women, indicates that both before and during the Viking Age, various foreign genetic influences passed into Scandinavian bloodlines, from Southern Europe, Asia, and the British Isles. Until now, the researchers didn’t know genetically what the Vikings actually looked like.

Within Scandinavia, the southern areas were most likely some diversity hotspots, the results indicate. And such a thing might happen because they were geographically closer to Asia and Southern Europe. In contrast, gene flow within inner Scandinavia was somehow restricted, with some Viking communities more isolated than previously believed. 

During that time, Viking voyages didn’t only spread conquest and fear, but also genetic seeds that can still be recognized in people today. Almost 6 % of people in the UK have Viking DNA and is Sweeden, 10 %. 


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