Sheldon Group B Ancient DNA News2022-06-10T17:01:00-04:00

Haplogroup R-U106 in the News

Some of you may have seen the recent headlines regarding English Genes as published in the New York Times as “3,000 Years Ago, Britain Got Half Its Genes From … France?” The original article published in Nature “Large-scale migration into Britain during the Middle to Late Bronze Age” analyzes DNA from 793 individuals. David Reich, and 223 co-authors discovered a massive Late Bronze Age movement displaced approximately half the ancestry of England and Wales.  It raises the possibility of resolving a long standing riddle about British history and how early Celtic languages came to the island from mainland Europe.  Reich wrote the book “Who We Are and How We Got There,” which I highly recommend.  In any event as more and more ancient remains are uncovered and undergo DNA testing we learn more an more about the ancestry of our forebears. We do this through analyzing the 3 types of DNA: YDNA, autosomal DNA and mitochondrial DNA.  For my purposes here I am looking only at the YDNA and specifically the YDNA of our Group B SHELDONS. We can use Scaled Innovations SNP tracker to give us an idea of the movement of our SNP over time.

This takes us to the medieval SNP which is FGC62079 and is shared with the following SURNAMES: BOLTON, ELLIOT, EWALT, GRIFFIN, HALVORSEN, JONES, LAND, NORRIS, SMITH, SPENCER, SEIDLER and WALTERS. Their origins range from Ireland, England, Germany and Norway. So we have a broad range of names and locales which may or may not suggest an origin before arrival in the British Isles.


Recently Iain McDonald used some of the new ancient DNA results to revise estimates on some of the parent SNPs and he has given me permission to share them with you. Our full progression as described by FTDNA looks like this: R-U106> Z381> Z156> DF96> S11515> FT32950> BY17999> FGC62079. And we have identified the SNP BY35166 as the SHELDON defining SNP. SO far it is only shared with descendants of Isaac (5) SHELDON of Windsor Connecticut and John (13) SHELDON of Kingstown, Rhode Island. And here are the newest age estimates from Iain McDonald. [Please note these are estimates and always subject to change as new DNA is discovered.]:

R-L151: ~3300-2950 BC – This represented the original individual or family who migrated into Europe from the Eurasian steppe lands. This haplogroup spread from the earliest phases of the Corded Ware Culture migration. The population of origin is poorly determined.

R-U106: ~3150-2900 BC – It’s unknown whether R-U106 formed in the Corded Ware Culture, or just before it. However, all surviving descendant branches appear to have passed through the Corded Ware Culture. The ancient burial PNL1 records an individual buried in Bohemia (modern Czech Republic) within a few years of 2900 BC. This was real frontier country for the Corded Ware Culture at the time. It’s likely that R-U106 first spread out from either here (or, perhaps more likely, somewhere to the east), with all surviving branches migrating westwards into their newly conquered lands.

R-Z381: ~2900-2500 BC – This probably marks the transition of R-U106 from a large family into a people in its own right. We see multiple large haplogroups from this point splitting off and branching rapidly (unlike R-Z18 and most of the minor clades, which seem to have faltered at first). This indicates the population was able to support multiple branches of the same family. R-Z156 splits off at this point and is found later seen in ancient DNA from the Czech Republic, which may give us an approximate staging point in both time and space for the Z381-Z156 split.

Z381 = ~ 2900 – 2500 BC

Z156 = about 2700 BC

DF96 = about 2100 BC

S11515 = about 1400 BC

S15663= about 1300 BC

FGC62079 = Likely Medieval (1066-1485)

Our Cousin the Headless Gladiator?

Filling in the gap sometime between 800 and 1700 years ago the SNP FGC62079 occurred. Now granted this is pretty esoteric stuff but in the grand scheme of human evolution and migration it gives our SHELDON group B a seat at its very own table. Our closest find remains an ancient skeleton from York which is not only U106 but also DF96>S11515 positive! And we can date this skeleton to about 1st -4th century AD. This would be as close as we can currently get to the SHELDON Group B DNA which shares a common ancestor with this skeleton. He is known as 3-Drif6 or 3DT6 the DT standing for Driffield Terrace where the bodies were discovered. It has been speculated that these graves were Roman Gladiators because they were buried with their decapitated heads and because of the age and number of fractures. Our poor 3-Drif6 had fractured teeth, evidence of foot fractures, a rib fracture and healed fractures to two of his nasal bones. He was 26-35 years old. More about the gladiators here. A video on the Headless Gladiators here.

Site plan for Driffield Terrace 3 showing Skeleton 6 (aka 4045) location from The York Archaeological Trust 

Site plan for Driffield Terrace 3 showing Skeleton 6 (aka 4045) location from The York Archaeological Trust

So we know that as early as the Roman period a cousin of ours lived in Yorkshire, England. As more and more ancient remains are sequenced perhaps we will get lucky again. In the meantime, we continue to look for that elusive match with an English-born SHELDON! Happy New Year!

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