Scotland’s genetic history to be unlocked by new national DNA project

Local Scots encouraged to share their past roots with joint research project from Living DNA and the University of Strathclyde.

Researchers from Living DNA, Europe’s leading consumer genetics company, have launched a nationwide appeal to collect DNA samples from 3,000 Scottish people whose grandparents were born before 1935 and all lived within 50 miles (80km) of each other.

The project is now calling for qualifying participants from the following 20 regions of Scotland: Aberdeenshire, Angus and Dundee, Perth and Kinross, Fife and Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Lothians, Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, Glasgow City, Dunbartonshire and Lanarkshire, Stirling, Argyll, Bute & Isle of Arran, Western Isles Council, Moray, Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands, Skye, Caithness, Sutherland and Ross Inverness. 

The more diverse regions are of particular interest, with the team mostly keen to explore areas where there is evidence of settlers speaking Norse, Gaelic and Scots, such as The County of Caithness in Northern Scotland which is known to have been home to some very early inhabitants.

Scotland has a rich history of immigration and a diverse genetic structure, which will be explored during the project. The country has had multiple waves of immigration since the first hunter gatherers arrived over 12,000 years ago. In recent times, there have been more focused settlement in particular areas of Scotland from Scandinavia and the Baltic, France and the Low Countries; with some areas of Scotland being more diverse than others.

David Nicholson, Founder and Managing Director at Living DNA, says:

Our DNA is hugely powerful, and it can show incredible stories about our past and our families – specifically, that we are all truly connected to one another. Whilst we already have a good outline of Scotland’s history, through analysing the DNA of 3,000 Scottish people we can add much more colour to the story and pull together an incredibly detailed picture of the country’s rich genetic history.

The data gathered here will help us identify exactly where in Scotland a person’s ancestors are from. It’s really important that participants have all four grandparents born within 50 miles of one another. They must be born before 1935 too to help us get the results we need.

Alasdair Macdonald, Teaching Fellow at University of Strathclyde’s Department of Genealogical Studies, says:

I am delighted to be working on this project to accurately map the genetic structure of Scotland. This will look to reveal the impact of the various peoples from across Western Europe who have settled here and made it their home.

Janet Bishop, Chairman of SAFHS, the umbrella association of Scottish Family History Societies worldwide, is also working with Living DNA on the project. She says:

Scotland has been settled multiple times throughout history, resulting in a very diverse genetic structure.  We hope that the project, and the research it involves, will contribute to a finer breakdown of Scottish DNA, benefiting the Scottish diaspora and genealogists worldwide. 

Those who qualify to take part in the project will receive a significant discount and over time will be able to see a highly-detailed view of their Scottish ancestry.

Living DNA combines the latest testing-technology with robust academic research, to provide its customers with over the twice the detail of other ancestry DNA companies. It gives customers an unrivalled picture of their past, allowing them to narrow their ancestry down to 80 worldwide regions including 21 in the UK.

The Scottish DNA project forms part of Living DNA’s One Family research which sets out to build a worldwide genetic family tree as well as producing a fine scale map of the world's ancestry, to help explore and understand both recent and ancient migrations. The overall goal is to show how populations across the world are connected, breaking down social barriers and improving education around migration.

To find out more information and join the project, interested participants should visit

Susan Roth, USA PR

Tel: 240-513-8589

Rhiannon Winfield, UK PR

Tel: 01225 444268