DNA revealed this ‘Typical’ British village isn’t so British after all

14 August 2017
by Ancestry Team

With its honey-coloured stone cottages, the village of Bledington is quintessentially English.

But a landmark study by AncestryDNA uncovered the unexpected: The average village resident is less than half Great British.

A not so British village

Official population data identifies the ethnicity of the village as 94% White British.

Instead, their AncestryDNA test results revealed that the average resident was just 42% Great British (Anglo Saxon).

Before taking the test, over half of the villagers (56%) tested didn’t expect to find results outside of the UK.

But their AncestryDNA test results revealed ethnicity from 18 separate global regions.

One of the most surprised villagers was 48-year-old marketing manager Kristen Turner. She learned 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 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.”

More connected than they realize

The AncestryDNA tests also revealed previously unknown genetic connections between the villagers.

What was most surprising about the connections is that they tied together not only families who had been there for generations but also the relative newcomers to the area.

Two connected villagers were Sylvia Reeves and Steve Tyack.

Sylvia Reeves and Steve Tyack

At 93 years young, and the oldest resident of the Blendington community, Sylvia 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 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.”

In total, over half of the villagers tested (61 people) were revealed to have distant cousins in the village.

Why Bledington and how

Bledington was selected for its size, scenic Cotswolds location, and community spirit. Almost 120 villagers provided DNA saliva samples.

This landmark study by AncestryDNA was the first and largest project of its kind to test the DNA of a community of people in one concentrated area.

The way an AncestryDNA test works, your DNA is measured at about 700,000 locations to generate raw DNA data.

Our science team uses the raw DNA data to determine your ethnicity estimate as well as identify people you might be related to.

Is the typical British village just a notion?

With this study, we set out to answer the question, “Is the typical British village just a notion, or does it really exist?

What we discovered surprised everyone.

Despite being quintessentially English, the village of Bledington was far more diverse than anyone suspected. On average, less than half the villagers’ DNA (42%) was identified as Great British.

Yet they were all connected in more ways than they ever imagined. The villagers’ sense of community was deepened by finding unexpected genetic ties to each other.

What surprising connections to the world might your DNA reveal? Take an AncestryDNA test to find out.