West Yorkshire Map and DNA Study

West Yorkshire is now a metropolitan county in England. It consists of five metropolitan boroughs; City of Bradford, City of Leeds, City of Wakefield, Calderdale and Kirklees.

Ancestry map showing the areas from which the families depicted on this web site originate. The majority of the families were situated in the area shaded light red, with the biggest concentration shaded in dark red.
The areas from which more distantly related ancestors came are shaded green. 

Scale: The distance from Huddersfield to Wakefield is about 14 miles.

My Kirklees Cousins ancestors can be traced back in the West Yorkshire region for about 500 years, in particular the towns and villages of Huddersfield, Heckmondwyke, Batley, Mirfield, Kirkheaton, Kirkburton, Meltham, Thornhill, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury, Earlsheaton, Chickenley and Ossett (which used to be part of Dewsbury, but is now administered from the City of Wakefield). Those families who were not originally from “Kirklees” had come into the area from nearby Wakefield and Calderdale. Beyond 500 years in the distant past, who knows where they came from? Fortunately, we have some DNA studies that give clues.

West Yorkshire DNA – who do you think you are?

Yorkshire is the most Anglo-Saxon region in the UK and West Yorkshire DNA is different to all other – it’s official!

DNA test results from more than 2 million saliva DNA tests, submitted through ancestry’s DNA test facility, have been analysed. The tests deduced the genetic make-up of the “average” person and to what countries or regions they can trace their ancestry back.

The average in Yorkshire is 41.17% Anglo-Saxon (British), 19.28% Irish (Celtic), 10.10% Scandinavian (Norse), 9.65% Western European (French/German), 2.66% Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), 1.80% Eastern Europe, 1.68% from Italy/Greece…

…whilst the average UK resident overall is 36.94% Anglo-Saxon, 21.59% Irish and 19.91% Western European.

West Yorkshire DNA

The ‘People of the British Isles’ study (https://www.peopleofthebritishisles.org/) analysed the DNA of 2,039 people from rural areas of the UK, whose four grandparents were all born within 80km of each other. After over a decade of sample collection and data analysis, the findings were published on the 19th of March 2015. Geneticist Professor Sir Walter Bodmer of Oxford University said: “What it shows is the extraordinary stability of the British population. Britain hasn’t changed much since 600AD”.

One distinct genetic group can only be seen in what is now West Yorkshire. After the decline of the Roman Empire, there was a Celtic Kingdom, one of the last strongholds of the ancient Celtic Britons, called “Elmet”, exactly in this region, the population here evolving in isolation for a time. The test results indicated a striking correlation between the inhabitants of Elmet, in the “Dark Ages”, and genetic characteristics in that area today, where Britons are “still living in the same ‘tribes’ that they lived in during the 7th Century”.


The Roman capital of the North was Eboracum (modern York), which was located in territory that had formerly been under the control of the Brigantes. When the Romans left, the Celts were again in possession of parts of the north, the Ebruac ruling territory around York and another tribe formed the Kingdom of Elmet in West Yorkshire. ‘Elmed Saetna’, the Elmet dwellers, lived in the the ancient Kingdom of Elmet, an area that later largely corresponded with the West Riding of Yorkshire, and an independent Britonnic kingdom that came into being about 400 AD.

Elmet was one of a number of small independent kingdoms to emerge at the end of the Roman period. Embracing the present West Riding of Yorkshire, the region, at the height of its powers, is believed to have extended from the headwaters of the Humber, across to the Pennine foothills in the west, with its southern border reaching to the banks of the River Sheaf (Sheaf meaning boundary and from which Sheffield derives its name) and the River Don. 

See more at:
http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/FeaturesBritain/BritishElmet.htm http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/BritainElmet.htm

In the sixth century, the Anglo-Saxons occupying territory to the east of Elmet (the East Riding) formed the kingdom of Deira, those to the north Bernicia, whilst the Angles of Mercia lay in the south and Midlands. Elmet was then, for some time, at the forefront of British territory, forming a bridgehead separating the Angles of the Midlands from those occupying the Plain of York.


For a period Elmet was sufficiently powerful to withstand invasion from the Anglo-Saxons. But, towards the end of the 6th century, Elmet came under increasing threat from the expanding Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of Deira and Mercia. Elmed Saetna, nobles and warriors, plus foot soldiers, attempted to capture Catterick about 600 AD, under the leadership of Modog of Elmet but were disastrously defeated, after which the Angles of Deira and Bernicia united to form the powerful kingdom of Northumbria and eventually succeeded in invading Elmet in 616 or 617. After the conquest of Elmet, it was incorporated into Northumbria in 627 and shrunk in importance. King Edwin of Northumbia was baptised by Paulinus (an emissary from Rome) at York, on Easter Day in AD 627, and became the first Christian King of Northumbria.

Women and Men

Also, apparently the women of Yorkshire really can claim their special place in the county:

They (women) have squatters’ rights – because most of them have been here for much longer than the men. Women pass on mitochondrial DNA to their children but only their daughters can, in turn, pass it to their children. Men have it but it dies with them. What that means is that everyone so far tested in the Yorkshire’s DNA project has mtDNA and it can tell us a great deal about ancient ancestry. A staggering 62 per cent of mtDNA lineages began to arrive in Yorkshire very early, as soon as the last ice age ended, some time around 9,600BC. And it seems that they came from the same direction, from the Iberian Peninsula and south-western France.

Guardian Newspaper

The dominant male lineages came later, mostly from Roman, Scandinavian and Germanic origins.

And the research has finally answered the question of whether the Romans, Vikings and Anglo-Saxons interbred with the Britons or wiped out communities…

…There is no genetic signature from the Danish Vikings even though they controlled large parts of England – The Danelaw – from the 9th century, suggesting they conquered, kept largely to themselves, and then left…

…There is also little Roman DNA in the British genetic make-up.

Professor Peter Donnelly, Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics

Comments are closed.