The Goths sack Rome

Sinclair DNA -  S21 U106 Lineage

Click any one of these to follow this R1b group's complete path through time
Click to see the early origins of this R1 haplogroup You're on this page now Click to see where this lineage ended up and why


Get the latest on our U106 Lineage
at our Sinclair DNA blog

Ergolding DNA - Our Possible Ancestors in Bavaria
The DYS390=23 Lineage
The Anglo-Saxon Visigoth Invaders


UPDATE: We've just received some new reports back on our U106 L48 group (formerly known as S21).  This Lineage has been lucky to have more SNPs discovered - the Z series.

We've had 3 distinct groups who I've been pretty sure didn't share a common ancestor for at least 2,000 years-
1. The large Caithness group
2. The smaller Argyle group
3. The single (anonymous) person who is believed to have the best documents pointing to a connection to the Earldom line in the 1300s. Based on my calculations, he has no connections to any other Sinclair DNA participants within the last 2,000 years.

In the Z series of SNP tests, we're beginning to find some very clear distinctions that will eventually shed a bright light on the history of this group. Already I've found distinctions between them, namely Z8.

One learned contributor on a Yahoo group speculates that Z8 appears to have developed with the Germanic tribes on the European continent and likely came over to the British Isles with the Germani invasion of the 5th Century C.E.  He describes a "hot spot" in the area where the Germanic tribes were known to have lived. This doesn't mean that all of them packed their bags and moved to the U.K., but it makes sense that some did. Perhaps that group who came into the British Isles in the 5th Centure C.E. included the ancestor of our large L-48, Z8+ Lineage from Caithness. It's still too early to know.

The Z-series is important for our study because we already have a clear split -
Caithness group - Z8+
Argyle group - Z8- (negative)
Earldom participant - Z8- (negative)

Using negative results as proof of a connection is not the best approach, which is why I'm now going to be testing one of these for Z381, Z2 and Z9.  That will be the definitive test. The calculator I use shows a good deal of genetic distance between the Argyle Lineage and the Earldom participant, but I prefer to use SNP testing to validate relatedness rather than the calculators.

What it means:
I have to do more testing on one of our participants to see where this will lead. We can now rule out the Caithness group sharing positive results downstream of Z8 so, if the Argyle group and the Earldom participant do end up sharing a positive result, then we'll know they share a more recent common ancestor. I currently think it's unlikely because of the genetic distance between all three, but I'll test it anyway.

Very soon I'll be re-naming these lineages based on their Z results.


As you can see from those links at the upper right, there's a lot to write on S21. It has really shaken up the DNA world by being the first really good way to split apart the R1b haplogroup. With so many folks being part of the R1b world, the financial incentive was there for some lab to find a way to crack this huge group apart. 

• S21, now more often referred to as U-106 or less frequently as M405, is a mutation that is now believed to have occurred about 3,100 to 3,900 years ago. It currently has four subclades which help to pinpoint the ancestors who show these particular identifying markers to a specific region in a specific time frame -
R1b1b2a1a1  (U106 also known as S21)

It appears to represent over 25% of the entire R1b group. "The subclade appears to be omnipresent in Europe, although it becomes less pronounced in Ireland (5.9%) and France (7.1%) and, further towards the Mediterranean, low values are measured in Italy (3.5%), and Turkey (0.4%). The frequency of this subclade remains unknown in certain parts of Europe such as Iberia and the Balkans."
Clades - U198/S29/M405, S26/L1/DYS439(null), L48/S162 (comprising L44, L45, L46, L47), L5, L6, P89.2, P107  


This subclade is defined by the presence of the marker L48/S162 and is also known as R1b1b2a1a4 (by Family Tree DNA - FTDNA). It is the largest subclade of R1b1b2a1a1. As of May 15, 2009, based on FTDNA tests of samples from 256 people, L48 was detected in 146, or 57.0% of those tested. From among those with L48+ results, 90% have DYS390 of 23 or less, while 10% a value of 24 or more. Among those tested L48-, 16% have DYS390 of 23 or less, while 84% a value of 24 or more. Therefore, there seems to be a correlation between values of 23 or lower for DYS390 and L48+, among those tested U106+.    The age of L48 is around 2,900-3,100 years old.

    R1b1b2a1a1   M467/S29/U198


This subclade is defined by the presence of the marker U198, also known as S29 and M467. Although attested in southern England and Germany in the region previously inhabited by the Saxons, it is unknown if this marker arrived in England with the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th Century. Only low values of the marker have been detected over a wide area that besides England (1.4%) and Germany (1.8%) includes the Netherlands (maximum value 2.1%), Denmark (0.9%) and Russia (1.8%).[20] The age of U198 is around 2-3,000 years.


Very little can be said about this SNP at this time.

R1b1b2a1a2   P107

R1b1b2a1a3   DYS439(null)/L1/S26

R1b1b2a1a4   L48/S162    (position relative to P107 and L1/S26 uncertain)

source - wiki search "S21 U106"

Ken Nordtvedt has been doing lots of work in trying to determine ages of the
MRCA of many subhaplogroups, or the MRCA of two closely-related haplogroups
(like Dave's R1b-U106 and R1b-S28 (which ISOGG calls R1b1b2a2g). He has
calculated the age of the MRCA for all of S21 to be 109 generations ago (or
3270 years, if you use 30 years/generation. So given the very high
concentration of R1b-U106 in Friesland, it is a good bet that the man in
which the U106 SNP first appeared (and thus is the MRCA to everyone who
carries it) lived about 3300 years ago on the NE Netherlands Coast/SE German
Coast....though there are counter-arguments that the origin of U106 is
really central European and expanded strongly SE to NW along the Rhine, with
a later particular hotspot in NE Netherlands.

• S21 is a test which helps to crack apart the R1b Haplogroup to which most of us belong and to further tell us where we all fit.

• EthnoAncestry believes this mutation might have happened in an ice-locked “refugia” on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain) during the LGM. Other believe it originated in a refugia other than Iberia.

• It is an important moment in our project as, while our members are almost entirely R1b1c, some of those are S21+ and others S21-.  It’s a clearly going to teach us important information related to specific geography.

• There is an obsession among some of us to find out whether we belong to a ‘Holy Bloodline.’ Some have suggested that S21+ is proof of this. Stan suggests otherwise and uses the work of EthnoAncestry and his own extensive knowledge of biblical history to clarify this.

• There is good evidence that S21+ equals an ancestry from the Visigoths, the question will become, how the new SNPs split up S21+ .  L48 will tell us one thing and other SNPs will tell us other geography for this group. 

• We must use caution in leaping to conclusions based on the S21 study or any other SNP study. They are relatively new and still not fully understood, even by the geneticists who discovered them.

• A new (S21) U106 SNP called L48 divides this group into geography in Europe, one western, one eastern.

About two years ago, I was contacted by the founder of EthnoAncestry. Their company had recently found a way to learn more about the stubborn R1b Haplogroup. Jim Wilson convinced me that it was a test which could unlock some of the SNPs in our DNA to tease more information out of what we already knew. Indeed, this is the quest for SNP’s that we talk about in the first pages of our report and we owe a tremendous debt to the continued work of Jim Wilson and David Faux. S21 is an amazing breakthrough if for no other reason than I believe the success of these gentlemen will spur others to dig into the nearly hopeless R1b Haplogroup to find ways to crack it. But there are other reasons to believe it’s an amazing discovery -

First, think of the simple fact that some of us with the name Sinclair (or similar) test positive for S21 and others test negative. Yet about 99% of us have deep clade tested as R1b1c.  There’s a wonderful bit of learning in this split alone that, in a way, shines an amazingly clear light on our project. We all have the name, yet some of us clearly split from others at one time. That time period, according the experts, who keep finding new ways to analyze it, is 3,900 years ago. Amazingly, it also means that, even though we split at one time, we also all acquired the name at some point. I’ve suggested these different groups may have arrived in Western Europe, in Norway or nearby (Friesland), and acquired the name from the land they lived on, despite being from very different backgrounds. If we didn’t have our disparate S21 results, we could go on thinking that, somehow, we all traveled together through time. Now we know for certain there was a geographical split in our bloodlines.

Think of that this way. A large train (family) is traveling down a track. It is stopped, and several cars are decoupled, given their own engine and put onto a parallel track. That moment of one set of cars going on a different track is the mutation of a SNP now known as S21+.  But what if the tracks ran right beside each other for a thousand years? This could well have happened. 

In Stan’s chapter on the Gothic questions in our project, he points out that Dr. David Faux, also of EthnoAncestry, suggests that testing S21+ may mean your very ancient ancestors were of Gothic origins. If this is the case and, given that the archaeological evidence clearly points to a western migration as the Goths took over Roman lands, some of us surely could have Gothic origins. This would put some in areas where they could have eventually taken the name of the land on which they lived. And their neighbors with the same names may have eventually come to believe they were cousins. And they very well may have been, except sharing a grandfather 3,900 years ago.

David Faux wrote, “A R1b haplotype makes it very challenging to interpret the origin of a family with this DNA signature.  Recently the company owned by the Administrator and Co-Administor [of Ethnoancestry] has located two markers which may break through what was once an impregnable barrier.  With the prosaic names of S21 (R1b1c9) and S28 (R1b1c10) we present markers on the Y chromosome known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which appear to have arisen over 5000 years ago (probably much longer) and are found in all the descendants of the man in which each first appeared.  To date it appears that S21 in Britain marks "Anglo - Saxon" and, so, on the Continent in Italy (perhaps a legacy of the Visigoth and Lombard Germanic invaders), north to Saxony and Friesland and the home of the Angles.  Norway is about two thirds S21 positive; and the surrogate for the Anglo - Saxon homeland (Friesland) is about seventy five percent S21 positive.” 39

As Jim Wilson wrote me in an email, “Within the large R1b group we have developed a number of new markers which define subgroups, including one called S21. In a sample of mine from Orkney there are two Sinclairs, both of whom are in this new subgroup as is another Sinclair from Shetland. This suggests that the Earldom lineage would also be S21+."

The S21 group appears to be rather old and there are in fact subgroups of this group - one of which is known as the 'Frisian' group and it looks like at least some of your Sinclairs would fall into this group on the basis of their microsatellite haplotypes (eg 390*23, 391*11, 447*24...). The S21+ type is much rarer than all of R1b.” 40 I’ve checked these markers and we currently have no members who match this group. This gives further credence to the notion that our DYS390=23 S21+ members were among the Anglo-Saxon (Visigoth) invaders of England.

Niven Sinclair has stated, “As the Earldom of Caithness has been held by every branch of our family (other than the Ulbsters, Hermanstons, Stevensons and Longformacus) it is very likely that the majority of us [Sinclairs] have a link with the Earldom.” 41

I feel that the search for “The Earldom Lineage” has reached the level of silliness. Many of our lines may claim such a connection. With the recent hype of the DaVinci Code book and movie, plus the older book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, so many people are on a quest of their own to prove some connection to the bloodline of Jesus of Nazareth. While it’s tempting for some among us to use the DNA project to prove such a connection, we seem to be proving that the story of the Sinclair family is much more varied and, in fact, far more interesting.

Jim Wilson, in his email above, suggests that S21+ may be proof of a connection to the Earldom Lineage. If that’s eventually proven true, then the Earldom Lineage is not directly related to the bloodline of Jesus as the other email shown above suggests that S21+ may be proof of Visigothic origins. And when reading Stan’s solid report on the Gothic connections, it’s not at all likely that S21 points to the Davidic Lineage. Given one clearly proven migration of a Viking tribe into Germany and down to the Black Sea, S21 is more likely proof of the R1b Vikings.

So in looking for one, singular, stand-alone, holy, begat-by-The-Magdalene Earldom lineage, some of us may be missing the point. There may be one. Or perhaps it truly did die out as some have suggested. But proving either case (even using DNA) will be very difficult and we certainly haven’t done it yet.

The U106 L-48 (S21) chapter of the St. Clair / Sinclair Research Project is not exclusively about the Earldom Lineage. It’s about adding further understanding to our family and why we’re seeing such distinct Lineages. And it has certainly done that as you’ll see in the chapter which splits us all up by various testing methods and theories by showing our exact results from each of the tests we’ve completed.  

A note about DYS390 and other markers.

DYS390 is believed to be a very “stable” marker. You’ll see in our results section that I have an entire study called DYS390 in which I split the project by this and a few other specific markers related to it via the Heyer Study.

We need to see exactly how EthnoAncestry is clarifying their results. For instance, how many markers are you allowed off to still qualify as S21+?  How many must you be off to be S21-?  I’m just not yet completely certain how the test works. And I raise that question in the face of folks with very different FTDNA results still sharing the S21+ or S21- mutation.  I read one post to a DNA user group on the internet which said that, in one family study, two gentlemen who were 23/25 differed on their S21 results. How do we explain that?

I raise all this because some folks have leapt to conclusions declaring that the S21 mutation is (almost literally) the Holy Grail within our DNA project. It’s simply too early to make too many breathless declarations.

Faux himself says “…one must be careful since a recent mutation from DYS390=24 to 23 could explain the pattern better that a geographical attribution.” 21   It’s important to remember that any marker can mutate at any time - even the more stable markers.

We may also find that the number of STR markers we are using may do a poor job of resolving this subclade. 46 John McEwan raised a few doubts back in 2005 about the markers that were being tested to arrive at the S21 demarcation.

Use the Word "Frisia" Carefully

This from Mike Maddi, who is becoming the defacto go-to guy on U106 and runs a discussion group on the topic in a Yahoo group. "There are no U106 figures from any study for Frisia per se, although the Netherlands as a whole has a high level of U106. It's mostly a misnomer that goes back to before S21/U106 was discovered and Ken Nordtvedt noticed a certain distinct type of R1b1b2 STR values found in Frisian samples in the SMGF database. Because many (not all) R1b-U106 have those values, people started referring to R1b-U106 as "Frisian."" 144a   Some seem to want the silver bullet solution, an express train back to Rollo fame, so badly that they leap onto any data that can be bent into fitting their story. Good science works the other way around. Let the data lead where it may.

Summary of the Facts -  S21  U106  L-48   Z-TBD
This group was likely part of the Anglo-Saxon Visigoth invasion of England 400-1,000 AD.

If they were there as others were taking the surname from the lands of Normandy, how then did they get the surname? 

I believe we're reaching the point where some very serious and painstaking documents research must be done on this lineage. And the way to do it is to work backwards in time very carefully with two documents per point proved.

S21 is not yet proof of the Earldom Lineage. In fact, chasing this is not a goal of this project.

S21 is being divided into a new group that seems to be geographic specific. One is eastern European and one western. The time frame for this split is not yet resolved.

There were at least 3 distinct family groups who held the Earldom and they are now being split by the new Z-series of SNPs.

Further notes - S21 positive, U106 positive, L-48 positive, Z-series divides the Lineage

As in many things related to the study of DNA for genealogy, more work is needed.


AMH  |  Germany  |  DYS390=25  |  DYS390=23  |  S21-U106  |  Anglo-Saxon Visigoths  
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