Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
Click here www.ancestry.co.uk/dna to buy the AncestyDNA Kit
What they say
With one simple test, uncover where your ancestors came from, discover distant relatives and find new details about your unique family history.
Provides a personal ethnicity estimate from up to thousands of years ago from 26 separate regions across the globe (including Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Middle East, Asia Central, East and South and nine African regions) - all from a tiny bit of saliva. Through the results, you could uncover new family connections as the test matches users with a database of more than 3 million people worldwide who have taken the test.
What our reviewer thought…
If you enjoy watching Who Do You Think You Are, have always wanted to find out more about your family tree, or wonder where your ancestors came from, you’ll be fascinated with this kit.
AncestryDNA is a subsidiary of Ancestry.co.uk – which is the world’s largest online family history resource, offering Essentials, Premium and Worldwide memberships on monthly or yearly subscriptions. The site allows you to search birth, marriage, death, military and immigration documents from all over the world, in addition to newspapers and Wills and connect with other users via online family trees.
AncestryDNA claims to ‘revolutionize the way that people can discover more about themselves and their family history and also connect with relatives they previously didn’t know existed’ – the aim is to reveal genetic ethnicity, uncover new family connections with people from across the world who have also taken the test and to share such information. The importance of activating your test tube online and connecting it to an Ancestry.co.uk account before you send it off is stressed clearly from the start.
The box and instruction card are self-explanatory – simply spit into the test tube and send it off in the prepaid box. It takes 8-12 weeks for the results to come back and then it’s time to analyse and make sense of your results.
How it works
With its extensive genetic database, AncestryDNA reveals genetic ethnicity with surprising accuracy. The results are specific to you and shown online in an easy-to-understand way, displaying what percentage of your genetic make-up relates to a particular area and how your percentage compares to that of the average native in that region.
The website is really informative with extensive notes and diagrams on topics such as migration and relevant historical events for each region/country, which shows up on your DNA estimate.
Helpful videos explain what ‘trace regions’ are (regions where it’s possible very small amounts of your DNA originate from) and explain how the DNA estimate is calculated.
More importantly, it shows how to interpret your results and how the genetic make-up of siblings can vary slightly, even if they have the same parents as inheritance is entirely random.
Videos also show how they compare your DNA to another user’s and sometimes you can end up in a group of three or four people who are all connected, from all over the world.
You are able to share family trees over the site if you have already constructed one.
It is, at the end of the day, an ‘estimate’ and I was initially very confused as mine showed up as 55% Irish and only 11% Great Britain, but there’s tons of information on the site which explain the overlaps in genetic make-up: I now understand it to be more 55% Celtic than specifically Irish and the 22% Scandinavian result is not surprising when you realise this estimate establishes your genetic history over the past millennium and the Scandinavian conquest of the British Isles was very influential!
There are a lot of forums too, as well as the ability to ask questions (to the experts and to other users!) which is very helpful.
You are given a list of DNA matches (you can contact as many as you like for free) that tells you the likelihood of your relation, i.e. 3rd or 4th cousins, meaning that the chances of working out your connection is relatively high if you get in contact with them! This can be quite interesting - I had a message from a DNA match in Ontario, Canada, and we worked out exactly who we are related through - a couple in my father's family whose daughter married into our namesakes on the Channel Islands in about 1830. It’s amazing that my DNA and this Canadian man's are still SO similar after 180 years (1830-2017) and that a computer can match us up and tell us we are 5th cousins or so!
There are ways of getting around the membership problem, the main one being making your Ancestry family tree public or choosing to share it with a newly-discovered relative (this is free) – and taking your research off the site. The idea is, however, that in order to discover the nature of your connection, you pay Ancestry money to compare records: very clever of them! You can, however, see which regions you share with a particular relative and then go from there and work together to find out where it’s most likely you overlap.
It’s a shame certain regions do not appear to be very specific yet – this is probably due to the database still being compiled, but it would be disillusioning to find out you’re from the very generic term ‘Asia East’ which includes more than 8 countries, and not know which one is most likely, however, Europe and Africa are quite well established and divided.
It’s shame, too, that in order to get the most out of sharing details and working out your connection with new relatives, an Ancestry Premium or Worldwide membership has to be taken out – these are often upwards of £70 for a year, which when combined with the cost of the test is a bit off-putting!
If you are just beginning researching your family history and are looking for leads/helpful information to get you started, then this kit may not be for you. It’s more of a novelty and something perhaps slightly more experienced researchers should do, considering the price and the detective work you need to do to discover your connections to your DNA matches online.
It’s definitely very interesting though, and exciting! It’s frustrating having to wait 8-12 weeks for the results, but due to the depth of information you get back from it (which will hopefully be expanded upon in the years to come), it’s worth it.
This is a fun, exciting and surprisingly accurate test. And while it may not help with your family history research per se (the estimate spans thousands of years so it’s unlikely you’ll find records matching particular regions; many of the ancestry will come from way before records were introduced!) it can provide some interesting leads by suggesting regions to you, and the way it connects you with other members who have taken the test is very interesting – it can start a lot of family history trails!