It’s nearly impossible to get past through the entry page at at AncestryDNA without seeing their banner to make your “Ancestry Player” card. I went ahead and made my little card, although where they pulled this ancient picture of me from is anyone’s guess.
My “ethnic background” was pulled for my “stats” on the card:
- 57% Great Britain
- 15% Western Europe
- 12% Scandinavian
- 5% Eastern European
- 4% Ireland, Scotland, and Wales
- 3% Finland and West Russian
- 4% other
Of course these are not areas where I necessarily have recent ancestry. That’s not the intent of the “Ethnicity Estimate” at AncestryDNA. This estimate is back to a time period that I will never be able to actually trace any human in my peasant-filled family tree. While the percentages are not quite what I expected, they are all very reasonable given where my various families originated before arriving in the United States. I always thought that my Irish great-great-grandfather, given his Protestant faith, most likely was not Irish at all and likely had family origins in Scotland. My great-uncle always stated that the great-great-grandmother was Catholic, but there’s no evidence for that and the DNA results would be consistent with her being Protestant with significant family origins in Scotland as well. But it’s not evidence in any way that she was Protestant.
The 57% I have that classified as coming from Great Britain is not a surprise when one becomes aware that AncestryDNA is including low-lying areas in northwestern Europe (relatively close to the English border) as part of Great Britain given migrations that took place over ten thousand years ago. My maternal ancestors, all of whom hail from Ostfriesland along Europe’s North Sea, fall into that geographic area. That’s why my percentage from Great Britain is higher than one might expect–considering that my “paper pedigree” (if it were complete) would likely indicate I had at most approximately 20% English heritage (and that’s probably a high estimate).
The 12% Scandinavian likely results from various Viking invasions into Great Britain and the European continent. The other percentages are small and, while perhaps interesting from a historical standpoint, I’m not all too worried about them–except for my Irish and I think I understand why it’s lower.
The ethnicity estimate can be helpful when it is extremely inconsistent with what is known about the person’s paper pedigree and when the historical context is taken into account. Mine is not close to being extremely inconsistent with my paper pedigree.
Now if it said I was half Russian or Asian that would have been another matter entirely.