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Tracing your Scottish ancestors using DNA testing to soon become a reality

Glasgow Caledonian University announced in early June 2007 that it is opening a new centre to offer a DNA testing service for people interested in their possible Scottish roots. Many people from the USA, Canada and Australia are descended from settlers who originally came from Scotland, or so they believe because of family stories or traditions. However, proving the link can be difficult. 

As John Gow, Director for Forensic Investigation at the University explained, " The new centre will enable people with Scottish ancestors from around the world to be able to come to Scotland and trace their records, and – if they wish – we can determine their DNA profile for them," he said. "We will be able to tell Mr Campbell from New York if he is related to Mr Campbell in Dunoon. We want to promote Glasgow Caledonian University as a centre for Scottish genealogy worldwide," he added. 

The forensic centre is not up and running yet – some of the facilities are still being built but the centre will combine genetic profiling technology – DNA analysis – with traditional genealogy research methods to offer a unique service. It will offer people who have identified some links with Scotland to confirm if they are related by blood to Scottish people. The centre also plans to conduct genetic research into the clan system of Scotland, eventually putting together a genetic map that should help people unravel their Celtic roots. 

DNA analysis may be complicated, but getting a sample to test couldn’t be easier – it’s a painless mouthswab. A Y-chromosome test is then used to define male lineage, while mitochondrial DNA profiling can be used to help trace the maternal line (mitochondrial DNA is only passed from a mother to her offspring). 

The service is likely to cost around £60 per person, depending on the test. Several clan societies in America, including the Campbells and the Beatties, have already expressed interest in the work of the centre and it is anticipated that it could boost ancestral tourism in the area. 

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