Blonde and burly, the Vikings are commonly viewed as a Scandinavian warrior-race who traversed treacherous seas to raid and colonise distant lands.
However, the biggest ever study of skeletons from archaeological sites in Europe and Greenland has shown that the Vikings were less of a race and more of an idea, with some even hailing from Scotland.
DNA analysis from bones from burial sites in Orkney has found that the remains were of Scottish locals who had adopted Viking identities.
Skeletons with British heritage were also found in Norway, while other Vikings had ancestors from Asian and Southern Europe. Many were found to have dark, not blonde hair.
Prof Eske Willerslev, of St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and the University of Copenhagen, said: “This study changes the perception of who a Viking actually was – no one could have predicted these significant gene flows into Scandinavia from Southern Europe and Asia happened before and during the Viking Age.”
“We have this image of well-connected Vikings mixing with each other, trading and going on raiding parties to fight kings across Europe because this is what we see on television and read in books – but genetically we have shown for the first time that it wasn’t that kind of world.
“The results change the perception of who a Viking actually was. The history books will need to be updated.”
The imagery rather includes the blokes in helmets trotting back to their ships with the local birds over their shoulders. Along with that nirvana, the mother in law free marriage, this does rather imply a certain genetic mixing in the next generation. And folks were going a viking for several generations…..