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Iconic singer, songwriter and politician descended from ancient Welsh Kings

25/09/2014

In what has been called a remarkable discovery, tests by the newly launched Cymru DNA Wales project strongly suggest that Dafydd Iwan is descended from ancient Welsh-speaking kings who once ruled in England.

The author of aptly named iconic Welsh anthem Yma o Hyd (We’re Still Here), has been found to carry a very rare and very Welsh DNA marker that is found only in Wales and (very occasionally) the southern counties of England. The marker, which has been named Ancient Welsh by the scientists of Cymru DNA Wales, is found in tiny numbers the length of the country, from Anglesey to Glamorgan but it is rare even in Wales.

The men in this group also appear to be closely related, which suggests common descent from a single individual.

The scatter of men with this DNA marker across the south of England strongly suggests it was impacted by the arrival of the Saxons, and a series of invasions and migrations following the withdrawal of the Romans in the fifth century. The incomers decapitated society and drove its leaders westwards and our scientists’ hypothesis is that Dafydd Iwan is descended from one of these ancient warriors. Further sampling over the coming months will strengthen that hypothesis.

The findings were revealed at the launch of the Cymru DNA Wales project in Cardiff.

The new ambitious multi-media project 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.

Cymru DNA Wales’ Alistair Moffat says, “This is a remarkable finding so early in the project and it hints that there is a rich DNA history hidden in Wales. We will find more people with Dafydd’s marker. We are also looking for Tudors and more modern patterns, but one thing is certain – we will be surprised”

S4C’s Garffild Lloyd Lewis added, “It’s really exciting to have found such a remarkable personal story in the very first days of the Cymru DNA Wales project. As well as such individual revelations, the project aims to unearth a whole new version of Wales’ history by delving into the DNA evidence that we all hold.”

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