Washington, February 9 : A collaborative study suggests that the blood of the Vikings is still running through the veins of men living in the North West of England.
Researchers from The University of Nottingham, the University of Leicester, and University College London studied 100 men in the Wirral in Merseyside and West Lancashire. All the subjects were those whose surnames were in existence as far back as medieval times.
"Using tax and other records the team selected volunteers who possess a surname present in the region prior to 1600. This gets round the problems of large population movements that have occurred since the Industrial revolution in places like Merseyside," said Professor Stephen Harding of the University of Nottingham.
The study revealed that 50 per cent of their DNA was specifically linked to Scandinavian ancestry.
According to the researchers, their study reveals that the population in parts of northwest England carries up to 50 per cent male Norse origins, about the same as modern Orkney.
"DNA on the male Y-chromosome is passed along the paternal line from generation to generation with very little change, providing a powerful probe into ancestry. So a man's Y-chromosome type is a marker to his paternal past," said Professor Harding, who led the study along with Professor Mark Jobling of the University of Leicester.
"The method is most powerful when populations rather than individuals are compared with each other. We can also take advantage of the fact that surnames are also passed along the paternal generations," Professor Harding added.
The results of the study have been published by Molecular Biology and Evolution.
The study report suggests that the Wellcome Foundation is providing more funding for the extension of the work to North Lancashire, Cumbria, the Solway and Yorkshire.