Press

Cymru DNA Wales project set to rewrite Welsh history

24/09/2014

At a time when national identity is emphatically on the agenda in the nations of Britain and Ireland, a new, cutting-edge project will be launched today which will define what it is to be Welsh – Cymru DNA Wales.

For the first time, ancestral DNA will systematically profile the genome of Wales.

Every Welshman and Welshwoman is descended from an immigrant, from the prehistoric pioneers who first saw the valleys and mountains emerge from the last ice age 11,000 years ago to more modern arrivals. And every Welshman and Welshwoman carries ancestral DNA inside them, which could answer many as yet unanswered questions to reveal a hidden history of Wales never before told.

• Across the millennia of prehistory and over 2,000 years of recorded history, where did the people who would come to be the Welsh originate?

• Who were the first farmers in the hills and valleys?

• What influence did the Romans and their legions have?

• Or the Vikings?

• Can the bloodlines of Dark Ages Welsh kings be found?

• And what happened to the Tudors?

These and many other fascinating questions will be answered as the genome of Wales emerges and a new people's history is discovered.

The new ambitious multi-media project, called Cymru DNA Wales, is a collaboration between partners S4C, the Western Mail and the Daily Post, Green Bay Media and research company ScotlandsDNA.

The two to three year project will lead to a major series of programmes on S4C, produced by award-winning production company Green Bay Media. The work will also result in a lasting educational legacy for future generations.

The aim is to provide a new way of doing television history, via genetics and an unprecedented mass survey of Welsh DNA, in tandem with academic disciplines.

The new Cymru DNA Wales venture is the brainchild of S4C Chief Executive, Ian Jones who went on to discuss the idea with the successful Scottish research company responsible for ScotlandsDNA. The scheme had brought together historical analysis and genetic information from ancestral DNA testing to look at Scotland’s history.

The Western Mail and the Daily Post, will provide editorial content in their newspapers and on-line websites.

The two flagship Welsh newspapers will also publish the forms which can be used to buy the Spit Kits by those who volunteer.

People who either live in Wales, consider themselves Welsh or who have Welsh ancestry will be able to buy the Spit Kits - Pecyn Poer in Welsh – in order to provide a specimen of their saliva for which will be analysed for their DNA.

QUOTES

S4C Chief Executive, Ian Jones said:

“S4C is proud to be a principal partner in a ground-breaking project which will literally rewrite the history of Wales and the British Isles. This project is an integral part of our dynamic multi-platform strategy and by working with a range of forward-looking organisations, we are helping to create a legacy that will last as long as our nation and culture live and thrive.”

Alistair Moffat of ScotlandsDNA said:

“Launched on St Andrews Day, 2011, ScotlandsDNA began a ground-breaking project. By analysing the ancestral DNA of modern Scots, we could begin the process of writing a different kind of history of our nation. Instead of the usual parade of the usual suspects, kings, queens, saints and the notorious, we used the results to begin to write a people’s history. We answered the ancient question of Who Are The Scots by charting the journeys of our ancestors to reach the most northwesterly peninsula of Europe, we are now mapping where they settled, we showed that we are a very diverse nation and that many of our heroes, king and queens are related to ordinary people. Wales has been very under-studied and by launching CymruDNAWales, we hope to write a new history of Wales, one that is inclusive, dynamic and different. The history of the Welsh can be found inside them – in their DNA. And the early indications are fascinating.

Media Wales Editor in Chief Alan Edmunds said:

"As media organisations, Western Mail and Daily Post spend every day trying to get under the skin of Wales and are hugely excited to be playing a key part in project which will do just that in a way we haven't seen before.

“For the past five years we have been trying to shed new light on the whole story of the Welsh people through our Welsh History Month series of books and Hay Festival debates and this project takes that journey to a whole new level."

Green Bay Media’s Creative Director, John Geraint said:

“Green Bay has been privileged to produce many prestigious history series in the UK and further afield, including the BBC’s ‘official’ history of the nation, ‘The Story of Wales’. But this project promises to be the most ground-breaking of them all – in the way it will combine history and science; in the participation of thousands of people in Wales; and in its potential to deliver an authoritative answer to the question ‘Who are the Welsh?’"

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

During the launch, the Cymru DNA Wales partners will unveil some of the well-known Welsh figures who have agreed to provide a specimen of their saliva for the Spit Kits - Pecyn Poer in Welsh - which will be analysed for their DNA.

For further information or to attend the launch of Cymru DNA Wales at the Pierhead building in Cardiff Bay (Wednesday, 24 September at 1830) please contact Owain Pennar or Glesni Jones at the S4C press office on 02920 741422

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