The genetic history of Scandinavia from the Roman Iron Age to the present

Ricardo Rodríguez-Varela, Kristjan H.S. Moore, S. Sunna Ebenesersdóttir, Gulsah Merve Kilinc, Anna Kjellström, Ludvig Papmehl-Dufay, Clara Alfsdotter, Birgitta Berglund, Loey Alrawi, Natalija Kashuba, Verónica Sobrado, Vendela Kempe Lagerholm, Edmund Gilbert, Gianpiero L. Cavalleri, Eivind Hovig, Ingrid Kockum, Tomas Olsson, Lars Alfredsson, Thomas F. Hansen, Thomas WergeArielle R. Munters, Carolina Bernhardsson, Birgitte Skar, Axel Christophersen, Gordon Turner-Walker, Shyam Gopalakrishnan, Eva Daskalaki, Ayça Omrak, Patxi Pérez-Ramallo, Pontus Skoglund, Linus Girdland-Flink, Fredrik Gunnarsson, Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Kerstin Lidén, Mattias Jakobsson, Lars Einarsson, Helena Victor, Maja Krzewińska, Torun Zachrisson, Jan Storå, Kári Stefánsson, Agnar Helgason, Anders Götherström

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Summary We investigate a 2,000-year genetic transect through Scandinavia spanning the Iron Age to the present, based on 48 new and 249 published ancient genomes and genotypes from 16,638 modern individuals. We find regional variation in the timing and magnitude of gene flow from three sources: the eastern Baltic, the British-Irish Isles, and southern Europe. British-Irish ancestry was widespread in Scandinavia from the Viking period, whereas eastern Baltic ancestry is more localized to Gotland and central Sweden. In some regions, a drop in current levels of external ancestry suggests that ancient immigrants contributed proportionately less to the modern Scandinavian gene pool than indicated by the ancestry of genomes from the Viking and Medieval periods. Finally, we show that a north-south genetic cline that characterizes modern Scandinavians is mainly due to the differential levels of Uralic ancestry and that this cline existed in the Viking Age and possibly earlier.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-46.e1
Number of pages35
Issue number1
Early online date5 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors acknowledge support from the National Genomics Infrastructure in Stockholm funded by Science for Life Laboratory, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation and the Swedish Research Council, and SNIC/Uppsala Multidisciplinary Center for Advanced Computational Science for assistance with massively parallel sequencing and access to the UPPMAX computational infrastructure. We used resources from projects SNIC 2022/23-132, SNIC 2022/22-117, SNIC 2022/23-163, SNIC 2022/22-299, and SNIC 2021-2-17. This research was supported by the Swedish Research Council project ID 2019-00849_VR and ATLAS (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond). Part of the modern dataset was supported by a research grant from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), grant number 16/RC/3948, and co-funded under the European Regional Development Fund and by FutureNeuro industry partners.

Data Availability Statement

The new aligned to NCBI build 38 (mapped, filtered and rescaled BAM files) sequence data reported in this paper can be accessed and downloaded from the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) under the following study accession number: PRJEB57364 (ERS13672864: ERS13672799).

Data are available in the main text or supplementary figures.

Any additional information required to reanalyze the ancient data reported in this study is available from the lead contact upon request.


  • gene flow
  • Scandinavian genetic structure
  • Viking
  • migration period
  • human population genomics


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