Thousands of people in Britain could be descendants of Vikings – and the clue might be in your surname.
Contrary to popular myth, the Vikings didn’t just raid Britain – but actually settled in some areas, and the signs are still visible in place names and people’s surnames..
In areas such as Shetland and the Isle of Man, up to a third of people have Viking ancestry – with 29.2% in Shetland and 12.3% in the Isle of Man.
Surnames ending in -son or -sen are an obvious sign of Scandinavian ancestry – but other names such as ‘Linklater’, ‘Flett’, ‘Scarth’, ‘Heddle’, ‘McIvor’, ‘MacAulay’ and ‘McLeod’, ‘Roger/s’ and ‘Rogerson’ and ‘Rendall’ could also be a sign.
Dr Alexandra Sanmark, from the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: ‘Vikings in Britain can be traced through archaeological evidence, such as burials, place-names, DNA studies, Scandinavian influence on the English language.
‘The people of the Viking Age did not have family names, but instead used the system of patronymics, where the children were named after their father, or occasionally their mother.
‘So, for example the son of Ivar would be given their own first name and then in addition “Ivar’s son”.
‘People of the Viking Age would often have a descriptive nickname, for example two of the Earls of Orkney who were known as Sigurd the Stout and Thorfill Skullsplitter.’