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The Vikings who raided the British Isles and, indeed, lands widespread from the Arctic to the Middle East, originated from two quite distinct sources; the "Norsemen" from Norway and the Danes.

The Norsemen crossed the North Sea stopping at the Shetland and Orkney Isles. They established colonies on these northern outposts of the British Isles which, in the case of Orkney, remained in the hands of the Vikings until as late as 1400.

Genetic tracing commissioned by the BBC as part of the making of it's series screened late in 2001, 'Blood of the Vikings', utilised the evidence presented by the 'Y' chromasomes of males which undergo little mutation from generation to generation to show that up to sixty per cent of the male population of Orkney shared many markers which had been passed down from the Norsemen.

From the Shetlands and Orkeys, the Norsemen travelled on to the Hebrides and from thence to the Isle of Man, Cumbria, Wales and, particularly, to Ireland. The Norsemen traded with Ireland and established several towns including Dublin. Among the commodities traded were slaves.

Despite this presence in Ireland, there is very little trace of the Norse genes found in the Shetlands and the Orkneys there and it is surmised that the Norse settlers in Ireland were the members of a small elite which left little record in the predominantly Ancient Briton/Celtic gene pool of the population there.

The Norsemen also settled on the Isle of Mann imparting much of their culture to the island such as, for example, the annual open-air parliament which is held there. Fifteen per cent of the male population of the Isle of Man carry the Norwegian genetic legacy.

Although there is a great deal of evidence that the Norsemen also settled in the north Wirral and Cumbria, they have left no clearly discernable trace in the genetic pool - certainly no more so than is general throughout England. The Norsemen did, nevertheless, leave much archaeological evidence of their presence such as the many pieces of Norse jewelry which have been recovered over the years from the beach at Hoylake where it is believed the Norsemen held a beach market.

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  Viking Raids on England (8th & 9th Centuries)
  Settlement in the British Isles
Alfred the Great of Wessex

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