Cotswold villagers surprised to learn their DNA is only 42% British

A landmark project which tested the DNA of the Gloucestershire village of Bledington has revealed that residents were more connected and ethnically diverse than expected.
 
Results revealed that the village had genetic heritage spanning 18 separate global locations. And despite its location in the heart of England, the average resident’s DNA was revealed to be just 42% ‘Great British’.What’s more, over half of the residents discovered previously unknown genetic connections with other villagers – bringing the community closer together.  
  
Flying the flag: Bledington residents have been shocked by the results of a DNA project in the village.Conducted by AncestryDNA, this was the first and largest project of its kind to test the DNA of a community of people in one concentrated area. The findings challenged villagers’ notions of their identities and that of the community as a whole.
 
The village was selected for its size, scenic Cotswolds location and community spirit. Almost 120 Bledington residents provided DNA saliva samples – from the pub landlord and the local artist, to the farmer and the local historian. Villagers who took part in the study ranged in age from 19-93, spanning nine decades.
 
Although official population data identifies the ethnicity of the village as 94.5% White British, analysis of the DNA results revealed that the average resident was just 42% Great British (Anglo Saxon), with 18 separate global regions identified overall (see list below for full breakdown).

The AncestryDNA test surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations via a saliva sample. Analysis of the DNA data provides an estimate of the locations of ancestors from 26 separate worldwide regions including Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, Scandinavia, Asia and South and North Africa.
 Before they took the test, over half of the villagers (56%) tested didn’t expect to find results outside of the UK, yet the results showed that not one participant’s DNA was 100% British.  For example, marketing manager Kristen Turner, aged 48, was intrigued to learn that her DNA was seven per cent South Asian.
 
Speaking about her findings, Kristen said: "It’s rather exciting to think I have something in common with people in Asia and India and it does make the world feel like a smaller place. I’m quite excited to be able to find out where that comes from in my ancestry and perhaps try and find out where they originated from, what their story was and how it joined my line. I love to travel and would like to pinpoint the exact part of South Asia my ancestors came from so I could make a point of going to visit.”
 
As well as detailing the different locations present in the villagers’ DNA, the experiment uncovered some previously unknown genetic matches. There are over four million people in the AncestryDNA network, making it the largest of its kind in the world. As a result, many people are able to identify new relatives after taking the test.
 
In this instance, over half of the villagers tested (61 people) discovered previously unknown genetic connections in Bledington after taking an AncestryDNA test. These connections were particularly surprising when considering the fact that half the residents who took part in the study moved to Bledington from elsewhere, having no prior link to the local people or area.
 
Two people who uncovered a genetic link were residents Sylvia Reeves and Steve Tyack who were surprised to learn they were distant cousins. Talking about the discovery, village historian Sylvia, 93, said: “I’ve been here in Bledington for 56 years and I’ve known Steve’s family ever since I have been here.

"I even watched his parents courting, so, to find out we are related is amazing. I would have never have dreamt it especially because Stephen is rooted round here whereas I came to Bledington by chance after being born in London.”
 
Steve, 46, a builder and member of the Parish Council, added: “Of everybody in the village, I’m really happy to be related to Sylvia. This whole experience has been wonderful – a real opportunity. It’s really brought the community spirit back to Bledington.”

As well as Sylvia and Steve, six further villagers were revealed to have previously unknown DNA matches living in Bledington, identified as fourth cousins or closer. Additionally, 59 more residents were revealed to have distant cousins in the village.
 
Commenting on the experiment, Russell James, AncestryDNA spokesperson said: “Despite the majority of residents assuming they were British through and through, this fascinating process uncovered some incredibly diverse heritage and allowed us to take a broader look at the genetic history of the village as a whole. It seems that Bledington’s picturesque and arguably ‘typical England’ look and feel is deceiving as on average, less than half of the villagers’ DNA (42%) was identified as Great British.  
 
“And importantly, the experiment succeeded in bringing a tight-knit community even closer - showing that DNA testing not only better informs your past but can also shape your future by allowing you to discover new relationships with family members you never even knew existed. So why not take a test yourself? You might be amazed with what you find.”
 
The DNA breakdown of the average Bledington resident
Great British (Anglo Saxon) 42.54%
Europe West (The region covered by France and Germany today) 20.61%
Ireland/Scotland/Wales 17.03%
Scandanavia 10.06%
Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal) 2.80%
Italy/Greece 1.79%
Europe East 1.66%
European Jewish 1.58%
Finland/Northwest 1.03%
Caucasus 0.46%
West Asia 0.24%
Asia South 0.11%
Asia Central 0.03%
Africa North 0.03%
Native American 0.01%
Asia East 0.01%
Middle East 0.01%
Melanesia 0.01%

Watch a 90-second video about the DNA project in Bledington at https://we.tl/Jr2UXd3rgt

To find out more, visit: www.ancestryDNA.co.uk

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