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Did the Vikings Settle Scotland and Ireland?

 

English history is ripe with tales of Viking marauders raiding and plundering the English countryside. Now a new theory says the Vikings may have done more than just raid parts of the British Isles. They may have, in fact, been the original inhabitants. The evidence for this theory comes from an unlikely source – house mice.

As reported in New Scientist, researchers have discovered the common house mice living in Scotland and Ireland are genetically related to Norwegian house mice and not to mice found in other parts of the British Isles.

House mice are dependant on humans for their existence. They eat human food and live in human houses. House mice tend to do poorly when living in the wild. Thus, it takes a certain density of human habitation to support a population of house mice. Using advanced DNA testing methods (the same ones people use to trace their ancestors), researchers found the dominant breed of house mice in Scotland and Ireland are the same as that found in Norway.

This suggests the first settlers in what is now Scotland and Ireland (beginning around 2,300 BC) may have, in fact, been the Vikings. If your family originates from Scotland or Ireland then it is possible you may have some Viking blood in you.

This study will almost certainly raise additional questions, such as where did the Vikings settle and how does this affect the timeline of other Viking settlements, such as when did the Vikings settle in Canada.

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