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DNA Found out My Missing Great Grandfather Was a Viking!

Updated on June 30, 2018
Nell Rose profile image

Nell is fascinated by ancient history, archaeology, and ancestry. Where do we come from? And what makes us who we are today?

Viking DNA.

Viking ships Larvik
Viking ships Larvik
Viking ships Larvik Norway
Viking ships Larvik Norway

DNA and my grandfather.

We all know our family don't we? Well not necessarily. Sometimes a missing link will pass down through our families genealogy and cause a puzzle that we just can't figure out.

Then along came DNA testing. Its something that I have been wanting to test for many years. Now was my chance!

Would I figure out who our missing great great grandfather was? I was certainly going to try!

When I did eventually receive my DNA results I was stunned! I was not expecting that!

My Granddaddy was a Viking! (well sort of....!)

MyHeritage DNA Test Kit: Genetic Testing for Ancestry & Ethnicity Covering 2,114 Geographic Regions and DNA Matching to Relatives
MyHeritage DNA Test Kit: Genetic Testing for Ancestry & Ethnicity Covering 2,114 Geographic Regions and DNA Matching to Relatives
Possibly the best of the DNA test kits. I have tried others, but they don't seem to have the same amount of info. Well worth it!

16% Norwegian on Heritage 22% on FTdna.

I have always believed my family were just English. I had been doing my family tree on Findmypast for a long time and never discovered anything interesting. Apart from my great Aunt who was the Sleeping girl of Turville on my mothers side, the Needle makers of Long Crendon on my Fathers side, and of course my lovely uncle who was shot down in the second world war.

Sergeant Ronald Stone What really happened on that day?

But nobody else seemed to pop up outside England itself.

Of course there was the occasional spark of interest when someone had a strange name, or the family came from another part of the country. But that was it.

So when I sent off for my DNA kit from MyHeritage I wasn't that excited to be honest.

I had noticed other people's results from England were along the lines of West Europe, or Scotland and Ireland.

So by the time I got my results I was sitting with my fingers crossed hoping that it would be something interesting.

And I was right!

When I opened the link on the screen I was surprised and pleased to see so many different countries.

It said England and the rest of Britain, 74% Latvia and Lithuania 3% Ukraine 6% Middle East 1% and finally Norway 16% !

Well for a start I was shocked at the rest of the results! Middle East? Ukraine?

Then I saw Norway!

My DNA results.

My DNA MyHeritage
My DNA MyHeritage

Don't just send of for your DNA. Make sure you follow it up with Gedmatch and Facebook searches!

Scandinavian matches.

I remember just sitting there thinking, wow!

Quickly counting back the generations I realized that I had hit the jackpot! Now to find out who he was.

The next thing to do was check my Matches. Myheritage and other DNA sites will always match you with other people who share your DNA. Because of the high Percentage of DNA I deliberately looked for Scandinavian matches.

And there were a lot of them!

What do I do now?

Then I got lucky. An online friend mentioned Gedmatch. Its a site where you upload your raw DNA and they match you with people who have your similar DNA. I was astonished to see how many countries I matched!

Going even further I managed to track down certain names that seemed to be the same over and over again.

My father the (1/4) Norwegian.

My father who I think looks Norwegian.
My father who I think looks Norwegian.

Norwegian Matchbox on Facebook.

I discovered that there were groups on Facebook that dealt with DNA matches.

Thanks to Gedmatch which gives you a personal number you can talk to people on these sites, such as Norwegian DNA match, and see if you can match each others DNA.

After a few weeks of chatting to various people on the Irish, Scottish and Norwegian sites we realised that it wasn't going to be that easy.

The reason was that most of us had English Irish Scottish and Norwegian DNA.

In a nutshell we could all be matching on the English etc and not the one we were looking for.

Then I suddenly got a break!

A lady named Debra popped up on my Norwegian Matchbox. The Matchbox is where you put your DNA and it finds your matches. She was the only one that I hadn't seen before on any of the others. Which meant that she had to match my Norwegian bloodline!

And boy she did just that! She gave me names, dates and where he lived!


Norwegian Matchbox
Norwegian Matchbox

Martin Larsen?

To be honest I was a bit skeptical to start with. Could it really be that easy? But yes it seems so. According to my FTdna most of the Norwegian or Scandinavian matches have those names.

So maybe this Larsen man was really my relative?

His name was Martin Larsen. He was born in 1864 in Larvik Norway! I couldn't believe my luck!

The trouble with Norwegian names is that, unlike us they don't carry the same name through generations. For example, my dads name was Turner, his dad was Turner and so on.

Norwegian names are based on two things. The Father's first name, i.e. Oluf, and the second is whether they have a son or daughter i.e. son or sen, daughter, is datter.

They then put the two together, and it makes Olsen or Olsdatter.

So you can imagine my relief when Debra told me about her and mine Norwegian ancestors!.

Each generation has a totally different name. In fact another of my matches kept saying the name Olsen and I said no, not the right one. But of course it was right.

I did have doubts that Martin was my great great grandfather, as I can't prove he was in England at the right time. But its definitely one of the his family, maybe one who still lives in Norway, or even Britain. Just got to check some more.

Possible Larsen house in Norway.

Larsen house in Norway.
Larsen house in Norway.

Larsen Family

The Larsen family lived in Larvik Vestfold Norway. My ancestor was born Martin Larsen in 1864. Soon after that branch of the family moved to Australia.

But there are still family living in Larvik Norway which I hope to approach in the near future.

Just for fun I am going to add my Gedmatch number here, just to see if there are any of you matches to my DNA!

So go ahead, take a peak, you never know!


Viking? probably a fisherman!

vikings larvik vestfold Norway
vikings larvik vestfold Norway

A real live Viking in the family (sort of!)

I am so pleased that I found my Norwegian match, albeit that it may not be the exact Great great grandfather but at least its the same family.

To be sure I have to do some more digging, but I think its the right family member. I will carry on trying to find the exact cuckoo in the nest though and add it here when its done.

And to be honest, the child in my is puffed up to find a real life Viking in the family!

How amazing was that?

Thanks to Debra Le Bhers for all the amazing info.

Now that's done, its off to find my Irish, Scottish and Jewish GG's! lol!

I am loving my DNA!

Have you found your long lost Ancestors? Why not tell me about it in the comments below?

© 2018 Nell Rose


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    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      2 years ago from England

      lol! Maybe Suzanne! mine is more up to date though, just a couple of hundred years!

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      2 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      Me too! Maybe we are cousins!

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks DDE :)

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Great personalities and an interesting discovery too.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Lawrence, yes I have one of those names, its in Ireland, but now you go me thinking! lol! good to see you.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I think the last time I commented in one of your posts about your ancestors I'd traced my family back to the early 19th century.

      Now I've got back as far as the 17th century, and strange named like 'Johannes' are starting to appear!

      Not sure where exactly they might be from, but its certainly fun to find them out!

      And I've at least one book 'in the planning stages' about my family.

      Great hub here.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks Dianna, no he wasn't a fisherman, but he was out on the ships exploring. I love that he was a seafaring man! thanks as always.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      What a great discovery: a viking fisherman as an ancestor! I can see how the courage and boldness matches your personality, Nell.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Dora, thanks so much for reading.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sounds interesting, Nell. Thanks for sharing, and best to you as you continue your search.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Maybe I'll do just that on the next rainy day when I'm stuck inside.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Shauna, the trouble is, many of them make their matches too high. In other words they set the bar to high, like say England 25 percent, when really on another site its 50. The good thing about myheritage was that they even added my 1 percent middle east! other ones I did totally ignored it. you need to go back into it and upload it to Gedmatch. this site takes your raw dna and shows you exactly where you came from! gematch added scots, irish, dutch, german, kent and cornwall, oh and argyll scotland along with orkneys. spot on! let me know if you do it! and I bet it will show you your Cherokee.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Very interesting, Nell. I actually tried 23andMe and was quite disappointed. I know for a fact I have Cherokee blood in me. However, 23andMe says I have none. As far as I'm concerned, I wasted $79.

      Glad you're having better results!

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hiya Jackie, you never know who you might find! lol! always good to see you!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      3 years ago from the beautiful south

      Wow Nell, how very interesting! I have never really had any interest in my family's past but this does make one wonder. Guess they all had to be doing something way back then! Can only hope it was something grand. Thank you for sharing that and know how we might find out!

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Dred, if you are in America its much quicker to get the dna results than from over here in Britain. It took around 8 weeks here. Thanks for reading.

    • dredcuan profile image

      Travel Chef 

      3 years ago from Manila

      That's great! It's pretty cool knowing that you had a viking great grandfather! I haven't tried finding my ancestors, but seems like I became more interested of doing it. I actually, checked the amazon link, so the result will be released within four weeks right?

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks Heidi, it was amazing to find out that my great great was Norwegian. Now for the irish side! thanks as always.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Wow! I've yet to take the DNA test plunge. Glad it was a fun experience for you... and that you've discovered you're a Viking. Too cool! Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks Frank, I have only just started on it really. I have my irish, scots etc! lol! thanks as always.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      3 years ago from Shelton

      Nell Rose, I still find DNA fascinating and exciting.. Learning the heritage has to be mind blowing... and it has to really beat the family tree.. thanks for sharing this educational hub

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      I wouldn't mind gooing mike. Or even Ukraine! yes, that's another one of my dna bloodlines! along with latvia and lithuania! LOL! oh and Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Dutch......and so on.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi John, the thing with dna is it shows that even if we think we are from one country it turns out to be at least 8! lol! long story.

    • Readmikenow profile image


      3 years ago

      Great article. Learning your heritage is always so interesting. I have cousins who have done the DNA ancestry test. Each one had the results as 80 percent Eastern European. I'm sure I'd be the same. I believe me and my cousins may be the last to speak the Ukrainian language in this country. The younger generation fights us when it comes to learning it. Most have no desire to visit the village where our grandfathers came from. Yeah, our next generation knows nothing but the United States. Any plans to go to Norway and look for relatives? I enjoyed reading this adventure.

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      3 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      Fascinating stuff! I am second generation American, but my grandparents all came from England. So......... maybe I have a relative from way back who sailed to England on one of those delightful boats? Great hub. Thanks.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Sorry to hear that Larry. maybe if you did it you would find something interesting a few hundred years ago? thanks for reading.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks Linda, yes sending off for a dna kit is just the start there is so much more you can do.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Thanks Chris, yes they are great aren't they? my mum was in the WAAFs and she said the Americans and Norwegians were the nicest people she had ever met .

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Bronwen, it really is worth it. all those surprises! lol! well done for winning that prize, how amazing!

    • Larry Fish profile image

      Larry W Fish 

      3 years ago from Raleigh

      A great read, Nell. So glad that you found out a lot about your family. The world has changed a lot since DNA came to be. I have often wondered about my family, but it was so messed up maybe it is better that I don't know.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a very interesting article, Nell. Good luck with your future explorations. There may be lots of intriguing facts to discover in your family tree!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      3 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      My family and I have a love and respect for Norwegian people and their country. My late wife's aunt moved there about 40 years ago. She is thoroughly Norwegian now. We visited her several times and grew to love the people and the country. Congratulations on finding such strong ties to a fascinating heritage.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 

      3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      I just love this Hub! Some years ago I did lots of family tree research, even wrote a book about it that won a prize from a local (relatively) Historical Society. While my research told me I am mostly Cornish and Welsh, you have prompted me to find out more. Thank you!

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      How interesting Mary! oh you must do it! lol! thanks for reading.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      I do hope so Flourish, it seems such a waste without doing something like that. thanks for reading.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I haven't done the DNA test but in our family tree, we descended from a Frenchman who was beached in the coast of the Philippines. Maybe, the DNA test will enlighten us on this.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      Perhaps some day they will use this information for medical and practical advantage such as finding a tissue donor. That would be be weird.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      You maybe surprised Peggy! I know I was! lol! thanks as always.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I have a genealogy chart that goes back many generations on my maternal grandfather's side of the family and I have information on both sides of the family going back to my great I have not had any DNA testing done. Supposedly I am about 3/4 German and 1/4 Norwegian.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Miz (Doris) yes I do remember! what you have to remember is that the dna test kits don't always get it right. or should I say they miss out the smaller %'s. for example I uploaded myheritage to FamilyTree to check matches and they totally ignored my ukraine and middle east! they must have highered there testing. for example on myheritage say it said 74 percent, they said 20! you need to do it with someone else, you will see that Native American. And please upload it to Gedmatch. they take your raw dna, ignoring what has been said on the others, and tell you exactly! they broke mine down to Argyll scotland, kent england, cornwall england and ireland too! and they have been 100% right! you are definitely missing out! if you need help with it, just come back here and say okay? thanks

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hiya Wesman, lol! oh yes they do everything! and I agree, people forget that Vikings were slavers too. Mainly the Brits and irish were taken, so not too good. but they were good guys too, long story. thanks for reading.

    • Nell Rose profile imageAUTHOR

      Nell Rose 

      3 years ago from England

      Hi Nina, Finland? that is so cool! I seem to match Denmark Norway and Finland too, but only the matches. I was looking at Saami pictures, so amazing! Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      3 years ago from Beautiful South

      Nell, fascinating but not surprising as you found yourself in the same type of dilemma that I did. I know that you are proud of having a Viking ancestor. (You read my hub several years ago. My ancestor that I thought was a Viking who settled in France and went to Scotland turned out to be a Welsh Pict. I have since learned to be proud of that fact) However, I did have a DNA test with 23andMe and it turns out that I do have a small percentage of Viking blood, less than 5%. The rest is just about what I expected, 61% Scots-Irish-British and 19% French-German is how they identify it. The other big disappointment is that my Choctaw great grandmother didn't show up in my DNA at all nor did my Bavarian Jewish ancestry, unless he was counted in the French-German. They tell both my husband and me that we are 100% European. He used to visit his Çherokee great grandmother on the reservation and watch her weave blankets, so that can't be true.

      23andMe says it can't specifically detect anything past one's grandparents, so I guess they are all that specific. I chose them because I wanted the health report, which turned out to be a farce.

      You posted your Gedmatch number. I guess that means that you are Haplogroup H3? I am H16 and my husband is H. Maybe we are kin to you in there somewhere. I haven't checked out Gedmatch yet. Looks like I need to.

      I did make it into the DAR here in the U.S. and as their program chair next year, I've scheduled a professional geneticist to speak to us on interpreting and answering our questions on DNA tests.

      This is a really super article and I found it most interesting.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      3 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Well you know, it's a bit more honorable to be a fisherman than a seaborn roving rapscallion :)

      DNA test kit available on amazon! My mind is blown on that.

    • fairychamber profile image

      Niina Niskanen 

      3 years ago from Wrexham

      Wow! That is such a cool research you´ve done. I love the way DNA tests can spread our ancestors all over the world. I would love to take a DNA test someday. My uncle has done some family research. Being born and raised in Finland I´m pretty sure I´m mainly Finn but I have Saami ancestry from my mother´s side. I also have an aunt who lives in Norway.


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