Landmark study by AncestryDNA reveals the diverse ethnicity and unexpected connections between residents of a Gloucestershire village.
Tucked away in the Cotswold county of Gloucestershire, England you’ll find the village of Bledington. Home to a small community of villagers, Bledington is about as quintessentially English you can get. The village still retains its Victorian maypole and the post office is run out of the local pub, The King’s Head. The village even won the Community category of the “2004 Calor Gloucestershire Village of the Year”.
Community is important to the people of Bledington, some of whose families have lived in the village for multiple generations and have known each other just as long.
But the residents of Bledington, Gloucestershire area actually more connected than they ever realised.
With the help of the Bledington community, we used the power of AncestryDNA to reveal the diversity of the residents’ ethnic origins and uncover genetic connections between villagers who had no idea they were related.
The project was a landmark study – the first of it’s kind to test the DNA of a community of people in a concentrated area. Almost 120 Bledington villagers provided DNA saliva samples – ranging in age from 19 to 93 and spanning nine decades.
Before taking the test, over half of the villagers (56%) tested didn’t expect to find results outside of the UK, but they were in for quite the surprise. While official population data identifies the ethnicity of the village as 94% White British , analysis of the DNA results revealed that the average resident was just 42% Great British (Anglo Saxon). 18 separate global regions were identified, with the average resident also being 20.61% Western Europe, 17.03% Irish, 10.06% Scandinavian and 2.8% Iberian.
One of the most surprised villagers was 48 year old Kristen Turner, who was intrigued to learn that her DNA was 7% South Asian.
“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.”
The ethnic origins of their DNA weren’t the only surprises in store for the residents of Bledington. 61 villagers also discovered previously unknown genetic connections to their fellow residents, particularly surprising when half the residents who took part in the study had moved to Bledington from other places and had no prior link to the local people or area.
Two connected villagers were Sylvia Reeves and Steve Tyack. At 93 years young, and the oldest resident of the Blendington community, Slyvia was born in London and had moved to Bledington later in life. To discover she was related to Steve, who was a born and bred Bledington villager, was quite a surprise.
“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.”
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.
“This whole experience has been wonderful – a real opportunity,” said Steve, 46. “It’s really brought the community spirit back to Bledington.”
Learn more about the study and the residents’ reactions to their AncestryDNA results here, or head to http://www.ancestry.co.uk/dna to learn more about what you can find out about your story with an AncestryDNA test.