Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Scots – A Genetic Journey by Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson

Book Review

This book traces the genetic origins of the Scots. The science around genetic research has leapt ahead in recent years and there is probably a lot more to come as the costs of identifying genes comes down and computer analysis improves. Anyone can send off a saliva sample these days and have it analysed.

The book starts right at the very beginning, before there were any humans in Scotland. And then traces the waves of immigration mainly from Europe and Scandinavia into Scotland. The book is written with both scientific underpinning and fascinating historical details about the changing nature of Scottish society over the millennia.

Lots of the history is very interesting, particularly the history up to the middle ages which I knew very little about. But I would have liked a bit more about the English/Scottish conflicts – these were passed over in just a few lines. And the impact that Scots have had on the world. In Andrew Marr’s wonderful history of Britain, he points out how big an impact Scotland, or more particularly Edinburgh, had on the world during the 1800 and 1900 hundreds with such people as Adam Smith, Michael Faraday and James Maxwell. Edinburgh was not constrained by the educational and backward looking conservatism of Oxford and Cambridge during these times.

Being almost half Scottish (both directly and via New Zealand) I found this book interesting. But the simple summary of this book is that modern humans came from a small tribe in Africa approximately 100,000 years ago, moved out of Africa about 70,000 years ago into the Middle East and then Europe and finally into Scotland.

So, there you are. If you want a short, concise summary of the history of humans on this planet, we are all one tribe and we came out of Africa. I’m going back to my roots….