Of course you know that you can find Europe West DNA in Europe, but did you know it’s really common to find people with Western European ancestry living in other parts of Europe and all over the world? In this post, I’ll discuss the most common places where Europe West DNA might be found – both inside and outside of Europe, and how you can use this information to better understand your Europe West DNA results.
Where is Europe West DNA usually found within Europe?
The source of Europe West DNA is, naturally, Western Europe. The countries of Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein are the main fountain of Europe West DNA. It’s also very common to find Europe West DNA in neighboring regions, so it’s not unusual to see many people with Western European ancestry in the Iberian Peninsula, Great Britain, Scandinavia, and even Eastern Europe.
All sorts of reasons caused people to migrate from one region to the next. Wars, economic migration, marriages, and commerce encouraged the admixture of people from one area with another. This is how the “admixture”, or the mixing of DNA regions and ethnicities, occurred within Europe.
This means that:
Your ancestors from other parts of Europe may have had Europe West DNA
You don’t have any ancestors from Germany or France? All of your ancestors are from Great Britain, Norway, or Poland, or Italy? There is a good chance that those ancestors – ancestors who never lived in Europe West and probably had no knowledge of Western European ancestry – actually did have a certain amount of Europe West DNA. These very same ancestors took their Europe West DNA with them to the Americas and other parts of the world.
It’s impossible to know for sure what each of our individual ancestor’s ethnicity estimates would have looked like, but we do have access to a lot of information that can help us make some educated guesses.
First, we know that the modern population the non-Europe West regions of Europe tend to have DNA similar to the Europe West profile. For example, according to Ancestry DNA:
- 20% of modern natives to the Europe East region have Europe West DNA
- 49% of modern people native to Great Britain have Europe West DNA
- 17% of modern people native to Europe South have Europe West DNA
- 27% of modern individuals native to Scandinavia have Europe West DNA
Just for fun, I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find some relatively recent archaic DNA samples on Gedmatch, and see what an autosomal admixture “ethnicity estimate” would show. I found a few samples that were less than 1500 years old, and the results were really interesting – and might give us some insight into how admixed our European ancestors were. Gedmatch has various admixture calculators, and for this purpose, I used the Eurogenes K36, which tends to be my go-to ethnicity calculator.
Ethnicity estimate for someone living in the United Kingdom 1300 years ago
One of the kits that I located on Gedmatch was for a person who died about 1300 years ago, somewhere between the years 700 -750 AD (CE). In the image below, you may note that the person shows about 15% Central and Eastern European DNA. It’s important to understand that the admixture calculator that I used to make this comparison was designed based on DNA samples from modern natives of these regions, so it’s not a perfect (in fact, it’s far from perfect!) representation of what someone’s DNA may have looked like in England in the year 750 CE.
Another sample that has the same estimated age and that was found in a nearby location shows very similar results. In this image below, you’ll see that almost 19% of their DNA possibly comes from Eastern and Central Europe.
No matter what, it seems like there is a good chance that both of these individuals had ancestors from many different places. Their figurative descendants, our figurative ancestors, brought their complicated ancestry with them when they migrated to North and South America, Africa, and Australia.
How Europe West DNA spread around the globe
The biggest diaspora of people from Europe occurred between the years of 1815-1932 when more than 60 million people left Europe to settle in various countries in North and South America. Furthermore, more than 2 million people left Europe between 1400-1820 to settle in the Western Hemisphere.
Colonization of places in North and South America, Africa, Australia, and Asia led to Europeans settling in dozens of countries. Even though not all immigrants were from countries within the Europe West DNA region, we can feel confident that many of them likely had ancestry from regions neighboring their native country, including Europe West. A sampling of some of the places that ended up being home to Europeans?
- The United States
- South Africa
Where did my Europe West DNA come from?
It’s easy to immediately assume that Europe West DNA must have come from a German or French ancestor, but we now know that our Europe West ancestry could have come to us indirectly through an ancestor from a completely different region of the world. For example, I know a girl whose father is from Mexico and whose mother has no Europe West ancestry. Her results show 3% Europe West roots, which surprised her. She asked her father to test, and sure enough, he had 9% Europe West on his Ancestry results.
The goal of this post is simply to help you think about your DNA results and family tree research in a big picture way, and to encourage you to think outside the box. If you have Europe West DNA and don’t have a clue as to how you got it – especially if it seems unusual – I would encourage you to learn about the history of where you live an where your ancestors lived. You might learn something very interesting that could give you helpful clues about where your DNA may have come from.
I hope you found this post interesting, and that it helped you understand the different paths your Europe West DNA took to show up in your unique DNA results. If you would like to share your experience tracing your Europe West roots, or have a question or comment about something that you read here, I would love to hear from you in the comments below.
Thanks for stopping by!