Celtic Red Hair From Vikings?

Jun 11, 2015 by

If you have Scottish and/or Irish ancestry AND red hair, you probably also have VIKING ancestry, according to a new study.

The director for Nordic Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands says red hair is modern evidence of the influence of the ancient Vikings in Celtic lands.

Professor Donna Heddle is the director for both the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Centre for Nordic Studies. She is a leading expert on the Norse and has reached the conclusion that Scotland’s famous red hair is a vestige from the invading Vikings. If the compelling case which Heddle makes is true, it means the Vikings were very successful at spreading their DNA in this Northern kingdom.

Heddle explains that the perception that the invading Vikings were blond is a myth. The Vikings were likely red headed. Relatively few people in the world have red hair. Statistics are that only 0.6% of the population have that hair color. However, countries with the highest concentrations of red hair are all part of ancient Viking trading routes. Scandinavia, though long stereotyped for a high number blonds, has a high concentration of red haired people.

“The perception that the Norse were blond is nothing more than a prevalent myth,” she said. “Genetically speaking, the chances of them having blond hair weren’t that likely. The chances are that they would have had red hair. Interestingly, if you look at where red hair occurs in the world you can almost map it to Viking trading routes.”

Professor Heddle explains that in Ireland, the red hair concentrations are in the areas where the Vikings settled. She states that an observation of dispersal patterns shows a dark red spot in Scotland and a corresponding spot in Scandinavia. There is nothing similar to be found in Europe which lends further credence that the DNA gene for red hair had to have been imported from the Vikings and the Norse.

Source: Vikings Responsible for Scottish Red Hair Gene? | eCanadaNow

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  1. My family was from Scotland Last name Patterson

    • Fanny

      How interesting, me as well! There were Fenwicks also. I have red hair and brown eyes. I LOVE having that in my past somewhere! Love Vikings 🙂

      • Lisa

        Me too; red hair & brown eyes, a very rare combination.

  2. Pauline Barrett

    We have several red heads in our family on my father’s side, my father three of his nieces and a granddaughter and a great granddaughter. Very interesting piece of information into our ancestry

  3. I have Scottish and Irish blood myself. On my mother’s paternal family is from Ireland, her maiden name is Quinn and according to DNA research the Quinn’s are direct descendants of Conn of the Hundred Battles, 110th High King of Ireland. On her side I am also half Highlander and Lowlander. Some of the Scottish families that I come from are MacDougall, Campbell, Stewart, Graham and MacDonald. On my father’s side I am a Douglas and he also had a touch of Irish blood such as MacCarthy and McCartney.

    • Cyndy Jones

      My maiden name was Hoy. I am from N. Ireland – with red hair, green eyes and freckles. I was the only one in my generation with that colouring – but there are many in the next. Hoys were supposed to be kings of Ulster / Dalriada but I always wondered where the name came from before that. I suspected a Viking link – especially with Hoy Island etc.

  4. Alexandria

    Red haired people often have blonde children. I’m a redhead and my son is blonde. We are Swedish and Italian. Blonde is a dominate hair color that has passed on from the same gene pool. Yes, there are many blonde Swedish people. My mother is also blonde.


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