Manx Y-DNA Study
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DNA of the Isle of Man

The history of the Isle of Man indicates that the bulk of the population will be of old Celtic origin, as the first inhabitants of the Island spoke Manx Gaelic and were believed to have come from neighbouring Ireland. For a period of some 300 years the Island was also under Norse Viking rule and so it would be expected that there would be genetic traces today on the IOM, left behind through intermarriage with the occupying Scandinavians. Additionally, the Island came under the control of neighbouring Scotland, Ireland and ultimately England at various times in its history, and so it would be expected that some traces of their DNA, insofar as it can be distinguished from that of the indigenous Manx, would also be found today.

The only previous work on the DNA of the Isle of Man was carried out in a study led by Capelli et al. and published in 2003. Amongst other findings, this confirmed the existence in the male population of the British Isles of genetic traces of people of Scandinavian origin in places where Vikings were known to have settled. It is known that there were different waves of Viking movements out of Scandinavia from both Norway and Denmark, but it was not possible to differentiate between the genetic signatures of the Norwegians and Danish.

As part of this study Y-DNA samples were collected and analysed from 62 men resident on the Isle of Man and possessing traditional Manx names. The Y-DNA analysis consisted of testing of 6 Y-STR markers and a range of Y-SNP markers to determine the larger haplogroup designation of the person tested. The results showed that the Manx male population, as tested then, was a mixture of Haplogroups R1a, R1b and I. The broad inference drawn from these results was that approximately 29% of Manx males showed a possible Scandinavian genetic origin (Haplogroups R1a + I) and the remaining 71% (Haplogroup R1b) a Celtic origin.  

Since 2003 a number of things have changed however:-

Large numbers of the public have taken Y-DNA tests and the public database of results has expanded considerably.
New and more precise Y-DNA tests have become available, eg Y-STR tests of 67 marker definition are routine and Y-SNP tests can be done to the finest level of genetic detail, consistent with the latest boundaries of knowledge, ie once a new Y-SNP is identified then within several months a commercial test for that SNP becomes available.
A large international community of genetic genealogists and historians has developed, joined together by the internet, sharing their research and theories. This has resulted in a growing knowledge of how individual genetic signatures and patterns can be linked to individual family groupings, tribes and historic movements of people around the world. 

Thus the project coordinator believes that, in light of this background of greater knowledge and access to more precise testing, it may now be possible to shed more light on the genetic background of the population of the Isle of Man, and has initiated this project accordingly.

Details of the project scope and objectives can be found here.


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