Yorkshire is the most 'British' county in the UK, new DNA research reveals


30 January 2018
alethe-68734.jpg Yorkshire is the most 'British' county in the UK, new DNA research reveals
The county of Yorkshire is the most 'British' in the UK, new research from AncestryDNA has revealed, as the typical Brit is shown by their DNA to be 60 percent European.

The county of Yorkshire is the most 'British' in the UK, new research from AncestryDNA has revealed, as the typical Brit is shown by DNA to be 60 percent European.

The findings from AncestryDNA reveal that Britons derive, on average, 60% of their ancestry from Europe*, with this figure inspiring Ancestry's new advertising campaign. 


The new DNA findings come from analysis of the genetic make-up of those living in Britain, based on data collated from the at-home AncestryDNA test, which examines a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 different genetic locations.

Genetic ethnic make-up

The results reveal the genetic ethnic make up of the ‘typical’ person living in the UK and the countries and/or regions they can trace their ancestry back to over the past 2,000 years. Aside from the 36.30% of the average person’s genetic make up that is Great British, the vast majority of the remaining DNA (60%) is European.

This includes 23.14% Irish and 37.42% continental European, covering north, east, west and southern Europe, the Iberian Peninsula and European Jewish ancestry (See table 1 below for full UK breakdown). Interestingly, breakdowns of the data also reveal differences between residents of England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and even within English regions.

Newcastle and its surrounding areas most strongly represent the nation’s average Great British ethnicity with 36.54%, alongside London, whose residents exemplify our European connection with 60.41% European DNA.

Yorkshire stands out from the crowd by officially being the most ‘British’ county in the UK with 39.93% of resident’s DNA hailing from Great Britain. Surprisingly, Yorkshire also takes the crown for being the least European with 57.98%.

Enduring ancestral links

Russell James of AncestryDNA said: “Our DNA service has enabled millions of people worldwide to find out more about their ancestral heritage and for many in Britain it has confirmed our strong cultural and genetic connections with other European countries.

“Our new campaign rises above the divisiveness of Brexit to celebrate the enduring cultural and ancestral links that millions of Britons have with Europe. At Ancestry, we believe our shared Europeanness is something we can all celebrate, regardless of how we voted in the referendum.”

Table 1: The average UK resident – DNA breakdown 

Country / Region

% (Latest updated figures (2017)

Great Britain (Anglo Saxon)


Ireland (Celtic)


Europe West (France/ Germany)


Scandinavia (Europe North)


Iberian Peninsula (Spain/ Portugal)


Europe South (Italy/ Greece)


Eastern Europe


European Jewish


Finland/ Northwest Russia


Total European (minus Great Britain)


Table 2. Additional information about the top regions

Ethnicity Region


Great Britain (Anglo Saxon)

Primarily located in: England, Scotland, Wales

Also found in: Ireland, France, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy

The history of Great Britain is often told in terms of the invasions with different groups of invaders displacing the native population. The Romans, Anglo-Saxon, Vikings and Normans have all left their mark on Great Britain both politically and culturally. However, the story of Great Britain is far more complex than the traditional view of invaders displacing existing populations. Modern studies of British people suggest the earliest populations continued to exist and adapt and absorb the new arrivals.

Ireland (Celtic)

Primarily located in: Ireland, Wales, Scotland

Also found in: France, England

A variety of internal and external influences have shaped Ireland, as we know it today. Irish culture remains deeply rooted in the Celtic culture that spread across much of Central Europe and into the British Isles. Along with Wales, Scotland, and a handful of other isolated communities within the British Isles, Ireland remains one of the last holdouts of the ancient Celtic languages that were once spoken through much of Western Europe. Though closely linked to Great Britain geographically and historically, the Irish have fiercely maintained their unique character through the centuries.

Europe West (France/Germany)

Primarily located in: Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein

Also found in: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic

The Europe West region is a broad expanse stretching from Amsterdam's sea-level metropolis to the majestic peaks of the Alps. Geographically dominated by France in the west and Germany in the east, it includes several nations with distinct cultural identities. From the boisterous beer gardens of Munich to the sun-soaked vineyards of Bordeaux and the alpine dairy farms of Switzerland, it is a region of charming cultural diversity.

Scandinavia (Europe North)

Primarily located in: Sweden, Norway, Denmark

Also found in: Great Britain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, the Baltic States, Finland

Perched atop northern Europe, Scandinavians are referred to throughout history as “North Men.” Separated from the main European continent by the Baltic Sea, the Scandinavians have historically been renowned seafarers. Their adventures brought them into contact with much of the rest of Europe, sometimes as feared raiders and other times as well-travelled merchants and tradesmen.

Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal)

Primarily located in: Spain, Portugal

Also found in: France, Morocco, Algeria, Italy

Separated from the rest of continental Europe by the Pyrenees, the Iberian Peninsula lies between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Gibraltar, at the peninsula’s southern tip, is just a little over nine miles from the north coast of Africa. This proximity would play a major part in the history and identity of Spain and Portugal.

Europe South (Italy/Greece)

Primarily located in: Italy, Greece

Also found in: France, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Serbia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Romania, Turkey, Slovenia, Algeria, Tunisia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo

This Mediterranean region gave rise to some of the most iconic and powerful cultures the Western world has known. The Greeks were first, with their pantheon of gods, legendary heroes, philosophers and artists. They subsequently influenced the Romans, whose vast empire spread its ideas and language across Europe.

Eastern Europe

Primarily located in: Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia

Also found in: Germany, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Estonia, Bulgaria

The Europe East region stretches from the Baltic Sea in the north to the borders of Greece in the south. Throughout history, the region has stood at the crossroads—and often in the crosshairs—of Europe and Central Asia. Despite constant invasions and occupations over the centuries, the hardy inhabitants have, nevertheless, managed to persevere.

European Jewish

Primarily located in: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Israel

Also found in: Germany, France, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Romania, Bosnia, Serbia, Estonia

The European Jewish region is not geographically defined in the same way as most other ethnic regions. The historic dispersal of the Jewish population from its origin in the Levant on the east coast of the Mediterranean resulted in insular communities scattered throughout Europe, North Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. Although some Jewish communities enjoyed positions of relative peace and prosperity, many more were segregated from mainstream society by law, custom and prejudice, experiencing sustained persecution and discrimination. Jewish populations from northern and eastern Europe are often known as “Ashkenazi.” “Sephardic” refers to Jews who were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition and mostly settled in North Africa and southeastern Europe.

Finland/Northwest Russia

Primarily located in: Finland, Russia (northwest)

Also found in: Estonia, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania

Finland is one of the Nordic nations, straddling the Arctic Circle north of continental Europe. Although it shares long borders with the Scandinavian nations of Sweden and Norway, Finland stands apart in both language and ethnic identity. Politically controlled by its neighbours Sweden and Russia through much of its history, Finland today is a strong, independent nation with a unique, ancient heritage.

* Based on data from AncestryDNA customers born in the UK to Nov 2017

(image By Alethe - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4544818)