One in five Scots has blood tie to ancient Iraq
January 15, 2005
ABOUT 20 per cent of all Scots have Iraqi blood, according to a new book and television series examining the pre-history of what is now Scotland.

The remaining four in five Scots are descended from bands of hunter-gatherers who came from England and northern Europe after the Ice Age - dispelling the myth of the Scots as a mongrel race made up of Romans, Angles, Vikings, Normans and other arrivals.

These revelations come from a documentary series Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History, to be screened later this year on STV and Grampian.

The programmes - accompanied by a book - also claim the mythical land of Atlantis existed in what we now know as the North Sea, and that many Scots spoke Old Welsh before Gaelic.

And they dispel the myth that the population in 4000BC was made up of grunting cavemen running around in animal skins, saying the people were actually very similar to Scots today.

Alistair Moffat, the writer and producer of the series, said many people would be surprised by the findings: "We find it very difficult to believe that 10,000 years ago people who looked like us lived on this island, hunted and gathered food, had families that they cared for, talked about ideas, gossiped, told funny stories, lied and were often worried about the future.

"Yet all the evidence shows that they were indeed like us, and, further, they were in fact our direct ancestors. They deserve a history and nothing less," added Mr Moffat.

Telling the country's story from the end of the last Ice Age - about 8000BC - to the fall of the Pictish kingdom, the series ends in 900AD when the name Alba, Gaelic for Scotland, came into common use.

The original name Scotland, said Mr Moffat, meant the Land of the Pirates.

Using new research into Scottish DNA by Professor Bryan Sykes of the Oxford Ancestors Project, the revelation that some Scots have an exotic set of Iraqi ancestors is also backed by his research, which traced the movement of early farmers in the centuries around 4000BC. It showed them coming from Iraq and ultimately to prehistoric Scotland.

Fi Harris, marketing and communications consultant for the Scottish genealogy website ScotlandsPeople, said: "It certainly promises to offer a fascinating and innovative insight into Scottish ancestry and the role it has played in shaping modern-day Scotland.

"Since we launched ScotlandsPeople in 2002, interest in genealogy has soared and we now have over 245,000 registered users.

"Although this new documentary concentrates on 8000BC to 900AD, it will help to demonstrate how fascinating it can be to trace the lives of our ancestors."

Before Scotland: The Story of Scotland Before History, by Alistair Moffat, is published by Thames and Hudson on 31 January

By: SHARON WARD -- 15-Jan-05