Tucked into the county of Gloucestershire, you’ll find Bledington. The village of Bledington won the community category of the 2004 Calor Gloucestershire Village of The Year competition and is famous for its traditional Victorian maypole. Yep, between the lush surrounds and the cute local pub – Bledington is about as British as it gets.
But what about the residents? How British is their DNA?
This is what we wanted to explore when we set out to Bledington with AncestryDNA tests for the village residents. How diverse are the ethnic origins of a typical English village? Very, it turns out.
Here are two of their stories.
Local resident Guy (24), a consultant, has been living in Bledington for the past three months. He was eager to get involved in the AncestryDNA study, though doubted his genetic diversity and strongly believed he was 100% British.
Before taking the test, Guy was only aware of connections to Kent in the South East and the West Midlands – and mentioned he’d be extremely surprised to find Scottish connections or anything much further afield than the UK.
“All I know is English people in my family – and as far as I am aware I don’t know any relatives outside of Britain.”
Yet when Guy received his AncestryDNA results he was shocked to find out that he was just 3% British, with his genetic ancestry from Western Europe, Ireland (12%) and Scandinavia (7%).
His AncestryDNA results in fact revealed he was more Western European than British (75% versus 3%).
Speaking about the findings, Guy said:
“That’s a big surprise. I thought I was British through and through until I took the test.”
When asked how he felt after uncovering his European heritage, he said:
“I’m already feeling more European than I did before knowing my results – and perhaps I need to work on my French a bit more now – considering I’m more European than anything else.
“I’m also questioning where my milkman came from – either Western Europe or Ireland I suspect. Perhaps I’m a love child! I’m really shocked by these results and now want to dig a bit deeper to find out where this has all come from”
Local resident Andrew (66) has lived in the village of Bledington for over three decades. He admitted he was excited to get involved in the AncestryDNA study, though doubted his genetic diversity.
“I’ve lived in the village for just over 35 years and until this project came about had not paid much attention to where I came from. My mother’s side of the family came down from Scotland and my father’s side was from Leicestershire so I’m thinking that I’m largely Anglo Saxon – I would be incredibly surprised to find any far flung ancestry at all.”
Despite this, when Andrew received his AncestryDNA results he was shocked to find out that he has genetic ancestry from six different regions, including eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsular. His AncestryDNA results even revealed he was descended from the Vikings with his ethnicity estimate including a massive 29% Scandinavian DNA. Speaking about the findings, Andrew said: “The Scandinavian part of me was the biggest shock. It’s amazing to think that I have heritage from as far away as Northern Europe. Here I was thinking I was a Brit through and through.”
To add to his discoveries surrounding his heritage, Andrew was amazed to uncover 46 genetic connections as a result of taking an AncestryDNA test. His closest uncovered relative was actually a third cousin, in the form of another Bledington resident, Camilla.
“To think that I’m related to another local face is really cool. It’s not everyday you get a new relative so close by!”
If, like Guy and Andrew, you’re looking to learn more about your family heritage – your DNA results could help uncover more about your family heritage and the movements that led you to where you are today. Take an AncestryDNA test if you’d like to explore further.