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The following was first published in the March, June, and September issues of Loch Sloy!


Early History of England, Scotland, and Ireland with Corresponding DNA

By Mary Helen Haines ©2023

Preface: This paper is an attempt to briefly summarize the history of England, Scotland, and Ireland up to the 1200s when the MacFarlane surname is first used. We have MacFarlanes (of all spellings) as well as Sept members who have tested their DNA and are in the haplogroups mentioned in this paper. Hopefully, this paper will condense and pull together the strands of information that are scattered in various books and websites. I tried to use the most up-to-date information I could find. However, the science is constantly growing, so dates might change as new ancient remains are discovered and tested.

Part One: Mesolithic-Iron Age

The Mesolithic Age began around 8000 BC in Britain, and by 6000 BC humans had reached Ireland and the far north of Scotland after the last Ice Age had ended. These hunter-gatherers were able to travel across land to their destinations because Britain was still attached to continental Europe. The oldest intact skeleton from this time period is the so-called Cheddar Man, a man in his twenties who lived about 10,000 years ago. His remains were discovered in 1903 in Somerset, England, but it was not until 2019 that science had advanced enough to be able to measure his Y DNA. It turns out he is the Y (male) haplogroup I2a2, and his mtDNA (female) is U5b1, both associated with Mesolithic Europe. He was dark-skinned, had blue eyes, and was lactose intolerant.

The Y haplogroup that dominated Mesolithic Europe was I-M170, the oldest ancient remains dating as far back as 33,000 years ago. Downstream from I-M170, is I-M223, which was found in ancient remains in Wales dating to 16,000 years ago.

The Neolithic age began in Britain about 4300 BC,  and in Ireland about 4000 BC with the movement of early farmers who originated in the Near East millennia before. These farmers also brought in cattle and built great stone structures such as the passage graves in Newgrange (3000-2900 BC) Ireland (below) to house cremated remains, and the magnificent Stonehenge in England (2600 BC).

DNA analysis of 44 males from these ancient passage graves in Ireland showed 42 were from the haplogroup I, and 2 were from haplogroup H.  I-M284 was found in three ancient remains found in County Sligo at Primrose Grange and Carrowkeel in northwestern Ireland that date as far back as 2600 BC.

01 Newgrange exterior

Also arriving during the Neolithic Age were people carrying the Haplogroup G (M201), early farmers from Anatolia (Turkey). The subclade P-15 has been found in ancient remains in Europe that date to 5000 years ago. (We have several men in the MacFarlane project that carry these SNPs.)

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