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Somerled the Defender of Gaeldom[edit]

Some of the stuff in the last section is highly questionable. Somerled's image as a defender of Gaeldom is spurious and based on later traditions, doubtless influenced by the propaganda of the numerous chieftains who claimed descent from him. It's one of those myths nurtured by early modern Scottish Gaeldom, like the nonsense about Queen Margaret. In actual fact, Scottish Gaelic scribes in the east of Scotland turned his name into a synonym for Norwegians. He bore a Norse name - subsequently Gaelicized (if he used the Gaelic form, it would have come into English as Sovarley, Sofarley or Sorley ) - unlike the King of Scotland at the time, Máel Coluim IV, whose name was Gaelic and was declared by Irish sources as "Mael Coluim Cennmor, mac Eanric, ardri Alban, in cristaidhe as ferr do bai do Gaidhelaibh re muir anair", i.e. "Máel Coluim the Great Lord, Henry's son, High King of Scotland, the best christian in Gaeldom in regard to charity, hospitality and piety, to the east of the sea." Some how, I just don't think the Gaelic-Foreign polarization is going to wash. Somerled was in fact like other lords of the time, a self-interested personal empire builder; there is a good deal of evidence that Somerled was conspiring with the MacHeths and MacWilliams, and perhaps even Fergus of Galloway, in order to put one of the MacWilliam claimants on the throne of Scotland, but Somerled was doubtlessly influenced by the establishment of Norman marcher lords in the Gaelic speaking areas west of Glasgow, from which he probably expected to receive tribute. On the other hand, he may have just been chancing his luck by trying to bring Inverclyde and lower Strathclyde into his personal empire, and that interpretation fits best from what we know of the rest of his career. - Calgacus 21:43, 4 February 2006 (UTC)

"(if he used the Gaelic form, it would have come into English as Sovarley, Sofarley or Sorley )" When I think of how Samhain is said to be pronounced as "Sovan", I'd think the Gaelic form Somhairle would be pronounced the most like Sovarley. 00:36, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Deleted the questionable section. An Siarach

Translation question[edit]

Rex Insularum does NOT really translate into King of the Herbides, but rather translated into "King of the Islands". Lord/Laird of the Isles would be "Dominus Insularum," and I'm unsure of the "King of the Herbides", which would be something along the lines of "Rex Herdiberum" or something like that. I'm not trying to be tricky, but let me know what you think on my talk page--V. Joe 07:40, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

Please see my comment below. Rcpaterson 23:06, 10 June 2006 (UTC)

Somerled and Rudder..?[edit]

There is much to be found on the net attributing the invention of the moveable (steer-able) rudder to Somerled... including a BBC History site. A quick search on "Somerled rudder" will yield more. If true, this is probably Somerled's greatest achievement... if not true it still warrants some research and mention. Doesn't it..?

I would think that the steerable rudder is one of the greatest naval inventions of all time... and if not Somerled, then it must be attributable to someone. In that case a line should be included that proves the legend false.

--Dogfish 18:24, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Sounds like an interesting angle to me. I say: Pursue! Isoxyl 18:36, 6 June 2006 (UTC)
Well, they were known in east and south Asia long before they arrived in Europe. This might be helpful: it gives the earliest known illustration of a stern rudder as c. 1180. The illustration in question is here. The referenced Cog (ship) article says that the stern rudder was first used on cog (or perhaps hulk) type ships. Angus McLellan (Talk) 21:41, 6 June 2006 (UTC)

Somerled's Title[edit]

Somerled was never known as Rex Insularum (where on earth did that come from?), or Lord of the Isles, a title that does not appear until the fourteenth century, but as ri Innse Gall-King of the Hebrides.

Also I am completly baffled by the contention that Somerled's 'greatest legacy' was the expulsion of the Norse from their Scottish foothold. Politically the exact status of the Isles was uncertain for centuries, though they at least in a nominal sense remained under the authority of the Kingdom of Norway until the Treaty of Perth in 1266. When Hakon IV came to the Isles in 1263 he called many of the island chiefs to his standard, and some at least obeyed. Norse cultural penetration had never been as thorough in the Hebrides as it had been in Orkney and Shetland. While the Hebrides acquired the early name of Innse Gall-islands of the strangers-because of Viking settlement, Norse and Gaelic culture mixed and blended virtually from the beginning. Somerled may have been a Gaelic speaker, but his name means 'summer voyager'-Viking, in other words. He did not expel the Norse from the Isles, but took his own place-in succession to Godred Croven and the Kings of Man-in a uniquely Viking-Gaelic world. Rcpaterson 23:04, 10 June 2006 (UTC)


I've removed " and married a daughter of Sigurd I of Norway." (unreferenced since march 08). Sigurd had only one (known) daughter, Kristin(a), and she was married to Erling Skakke. Finn Rindahl (talk) 02:55, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

Inline citations[edit]

This is an interesting piece, but it still carries the 'needs inline citations' tag. They would be especially helpful, especially as users add members of his family, etc. MarmadukePercy (talk) 12:48, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Somerled name[edit]

Somerleds name is of Irish origin and it seems that this is being "glossed over". The name was quite common in Ireland. The translated name from Irish primarily means Samuel. This introduction appears to me misleading in the fact that it is not presenting all the evidence for the name in a fair fashion Amceache (talk) 11:59, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I have removed the reference to Somerled being an Irish name. It appears that over the last few years most if not all referential material on the internet stating Somerled was an Irish name has now been removed —Preceding unsigned comment added by Amceache (talkcontribs) 03:46, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
Written in the "History of the MacDonalds and Lords of the Isles: with Genealogies of the Principal Families of the Name" MacKenzie 1881 it states "Of the latter the most historical, and, it may be truly added, the most patriotic was a great thane of Argyle, who appeared in the 12th century, called Somhairle amongst his Celtic kinsmen, but later known as Somerled, which was the Norwegian form of the name" Amceache (talk) 23:43, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
A further quote from the above mentioned book by MacKenzie. "Somerled is mentioned many times in the Norse Sagas, but never in such a way as to enable us with certainty what the opinion of the Scandinavian writers was as to his origin. He appears to have been known as Sumarlidi Haullds and the impression produced by the passages in which he is mentioned is rather against his being considered a Norseman".
In the same book "the Norse Somerled and the Gaelic Somhairle are both rendered into English, Samuel".
The citation is from a 19th century work. The rendering of the name into English as Samuel isn't indicative of anything. MarmadukePercy (talk) 01:14, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
So one reference to an obscure book written in 1973, written by an author with no background in genealogy, with the title "The Islands of Western Scotland" holds more weight?. "The name, a common one amongst the Vikings, means summer traveller and is a kenning for Viking." Amceache (talk) 02:01, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
This isn't about genealogy. It's history, and we can turn to modern historians who have examined Somerled and his name, and have come to some conclusions. The relevant languages were, as the original piece indicates, Gaelic and Old Norse. In neither of those languages is Somerled's name Samuel. MarmadukePercy (talk) 02:49, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
In which case modern historians should be referenced in the document....shouldn't they? I will repeat the question in different terms so that you do not rely on my use of one word (genealogy) to support your position. Do you think making reference to a book written by a man with a background in mountain climbing is sufficient to support the statement "The name, a common one amongst the Vikings, means summer traveller and is a kenning for Viking." ?Amceache (talk) 04:31, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I have no position. I didn't write the statement you're referencing. My role as a wikipedia editor is simply making sure the sources support the assertions. Any assertions about the name Samuel have no bearing here. MarmadukePercy (talk) 04:45, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Hello Amceache, look at these links: [1][2]. The Gaelic name is from the Old Norse name, it's not related to the Biblical name. Like what Marmaduke said, Samuel is just one of several Anglicised forms of the name, that's all. There are many Gaelic names which are sometimes Anglicised into completely separate names with entirely different origins. For example, Tormod into Norman; Gilleasbaig into Archibald; Maoldònaich into Ludovic; Sgàire into Zachary; Aonghas into Aeneas. An Irish example is Toirdhealbhach into Terence. So I think that in this case you've got it backwards. I think that the obscure and outdated books will be the only ones which try an make Somhairle an Irish form of Samuel and not derived from Sumarlíðr.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 05:04, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Go into GoogleScholar, and type "Somerled Norse", it'll show some articles. One of them is The origins and ancestry of Somerled by David Sellar. It's not free for me, but I think it'd be an interesting read, and a good source for this article and others here. The preview says "... 'Somerled' itself, Gaelic 'Somhairle' or anglicised 'Sorley', is a Norse name meaning 'Summer Warrior' ..."--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 05:17, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
You just requested a citation for the 1140 bit [3], but that's actually noted in the 19th century Mackenzie book you were quoting from before. I don't know how accurate it is, but it's in there. "... whose marriage with Ragnhildis, the daughter of Olave, about 1140—the first authentic event in the life of Somerled ...". Although there's a fairly recent book by Russell Andrew McDonald on GoogleBooks which says that "Although the date 1140 is often cited for this marriage, it rests on no firm contemporary evidence ...". Maybe you can find his book, The kingdom of the isles: Scotland's western seaboard in the central Middle Ages, in a local library. He's also got a paper on Somerled that is freely viewable on GoogleScholar.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 07:34, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Hello Brianann. Thank you for your comment. As you know I attempt to be unbiased in my documents and am more than willing to accept criticism. Yes it does appear that I may have it backwards, but it doesn't mean that recent references in online encyclopedias quoting other books have any more validity than older ones, does it? I do not see anywhere on this page where it has been conceded by Marmaduke that Somerled also has a derivative meaning of Samuel. (perhaps I missed it) He seems to be vociferously defending the fact that it doesn't. It certainly does not mean I think Somerled was Irish. I have seen no evidence to precisely give him any cultural heritage. The MacKenzie book is not a "historical chronicle" in the context of this document, is it? I would have thought a historical chronical would be something like the Annals of (dare I say it ) Ireland or Hailles Annals (albeit written much later). But my concern was with the word "first", and in my wiki immaturity it appears I placed the citation needed in the incorrect place. I have no problem apart from the fact that this is not properly cited. You may remember my clan wiki page was heavilly edited to ensure correct citations. Why should not this, extremely more important document, be subject to the same "regulation"? I have also tried to make an external link reference to Dr Klysovs latest published work as discussed below from this site in this discussion and I am informed that the download site is a banned external link site. I have permission to load this document on alternative websites that are not currently banned by wikipedia and are not Russian based. The R1a wiki page Marmaduke refers to in this discussion page quotes Klyosov's previous work, however as stated there can be no link made from within wiki to review his latest work, even if it is written in Russian. But it must be stated that the response to Dr Klyosovs work that Marmaduke draws reference to here by including a statement like "heated discussion", can be downloaded from within wiki as an external reference. Furthermore Marmaduke has made statements like "'Somerled modal haplotype' is M458 negative, which is consistent with Norwegian R1a1" which is correct. However it is a correct and entirely more factual statement to say "'Somerled modal haplotype' is M458 negative, which is consistent with Norwegian R1a1 which is also consistant with Indian R1a1, Iranian R1a1, Siberian R1a1 as well as some other types of R1a1. Brianann, if you wish, please take the time to research one of the possible anomolies that can be inferenced from my clan page. It is one of many that I appear to have found whilst researching my clan and some others. This is the anomoly surrounding Clan Dugal Craignish, Christina, the MacDougalls (Somerled MacDougalls) and the Campbells and especially the MacCouls which Sinclair pays attention to in The Celtic Review and Clan MacDougall claim as an illegitimate kinsman of one of their chiefs. All of these references I believe are correctly cited. Amceache (talk) 10:06, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I muddled my third comment a bit. I had assumed Mackenzie was talking about a contemporary document of some sort, but he doesn't specifically say that, and RA McDonald seems to dismiss the date anways, so you're right it's a good idea to request a citation. Sorry about that. Is the host blocked by wikipedia? Is that what you mean when by 'banned as an external link'? You can still cite the work of someone without actually linking to their work. Here are some citation templates Wikipedia:Citation templates.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 06:39, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for your help. I will perform some more indepth research on this subject, which I think may be required. Its been quite some time since I researched this man. I will also pay particular attention to the Norse Annals, although I know little of them at the moment. Somerled seems to be mentioned very little in contemporary history, however it should be remembered this part of the world was not in the Kingdom of Scotland yet and it may be due to this. or the specific document I tried to link to at is host blocked by wikipedia. The research published lately is quite valid in reference to this topic. Especially when the article draws reference to Prof Sykes. And even more so when editors make reference to the Clan Donald DNA research that is performed by MacDonalds, to sustain a position in a discussion. Self research is not supposed to hold much weight here, even in discussions. For much the same reason I did not hold much weight to my ancestors Siol Eachairn document, until I realised it drew from previoulsy published work 30 years prior by an unrelated person. Amceache (talk) 09:03, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Let's be clear here. Sykes' work is not 'self research,' as you call it. He is in no way connected to the family. And he isn't a hobbyist: Sykes is a professor of human genetics at Oxford. His is an interesting theory, that's all. His conclusions are not presented as fact, but as a theory, which bears repeating as it received widespread media attention. Also, when you say that Somerled wasn't mentioned much in contemporaneous history, keep in mind that events of the era to which you were referring were rarely recorded by historians of the age, of which there weren't many. MarmadukePercy (talk) 17:21, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I was in no way implying or stating that Professor Sykes' research was or is self research. I am in no position to have an opinion on his research, apart from the general comment that it is not available for review in the public domain, but is quoted extremely often. Nor am I implying Prof Sykes' has or has ever had any connection with Clan Donald (if thats what you mean by "family"). I think you may have misunderstood my comments. I acknowledge that historical references are very hard to find for Somerled. There is one I found recently in the Manx Chronicles, however it appears to be written retrospectivelly with a date of 1102, talking about his second marriage in the future. He is supposed to be mentioned in the Norse Sagas from all the references I see to it and he may well have been mentioned in some of the Irish Annals. Amceache (talk) 10:05, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I have reservations about the name being norse. Googling a Norwegian spelling, "Sumarlide", I find the Somerleds of the Western Isles, the son of an earl of Orkney, and in the Laxdoela saga, the icelander Rapp, son of Sumarlida, who is either Scottish or of Scottish family. The only hit without a connection to Scotland or the isles is for a court case in Telemark in 1349. Murray is right that the name is common among vikings (if you prefer that term for the norse of this period). But not in mainland Scandinavia. As for the meaning, is there any reason to regard Murray as an authority? Jon kare (talk) 10:56, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
However, Murray's view is supported by "Surnames of the United Kingdom, a concise etymological dictionary, by Henry Harrison", p 172 of the scan in Google Books. See under "Somerby". Seems to be a facsimile by Clearfield of an original from 1902. Personally, I'm still very skeptical, but it would work as a reference, and could well be what Murray used. Jon kare (talk) 11:38, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
The icelandic spelling is "Sumarliði". According to Icelandic wikipedia, the name is uncommon but not exotic in Iceland today - used abt 40 times since 1950. And I have not seen any other etymology than given by Murray. Apologies. Jon kare (talk) 13:38, 2 February 2010 (UTC)
See this link [4] for two more sources for the name. One of them is a Swedish source: Nordiskt runnamnslexikon; search for Sumarliði (or go to p190) in this pdf [5].--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 10:29, 3 February 2010 (UTC)
Nordiskt runnamnslexikon refers to Insley, John: Scandinavian personal names in Norfolk. A survey based on medieval records and place-names. Uppsala 1994. (Acta Academiae regiae Gustavi Adolphi 62.), p 351. If anybody is feeling really diligent, they could go there. Jon kare (talk) 11:54, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Unfactual unsubstantiated claims[edit]

This article is full of misleading inuendo. It appears the underlying intent of this article is to make the reader think that Somerled is of Norse descent. It is written in a fractured unstructured way.

The DNA section. Dr Sykes papers have not been peer reviewed or made public. It may often be considered the marker of the viking but this consideration is given by DNA amateurs. There is no proof that this "presumed" DNA of Somerled is Viking.

I also make strong note of the link from Gall-Gaidheal goes to the wiki page Norse Gaels. This is entirely misleading as is the page on Norse Gaels. Gall-Gaidheal means foreign gaels and is not and has not ever been historically translated as Norse Gaels. The Gall-Gaidheal were a collection of Irish Gaels and Norsemen. It is not biologically possible for a Norse Gael to exist in any paternal line. Either you are Norse or you are Gael. And they were called as a group Gall-Gaidheal Amceache (talk) 12:16, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

The Norse-Gaels are an established category of referring to those Norsemen who were active in the region of the Irish Sea. They are seen as Norse descendants who intermarried with the local Gaelic population. The category is not seen by established historians as far-fetched, as you seem to imply. MarmadukePercy (talk) 04:15, 24 January 2010 (UTC)
I have searched for references / information to Norse Gaels that has not been created recently (in the last 20 years) published. I can not seem to find any. In all the old documentation ie documentation over 100 years old I can find no reference to Norse Gaels. This does appear to be a new term. Can you please quote which established historians you make reference to? Amceache (talk) 21:53, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
There is already a wikipedia piece devoted to Norse-Gaels. Try using google. Enter the term. You'll find more than enough references.MarmadukePercy (talk) 22:06, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


As noted above Dr Sykes work was not published and was not peer reviewed. It holds no weight in the scientific community. Scientific research which is expected to be accepted by the broader community must not be based initially on an assumption. Sykes made an assumption that Clan Donald was related to Somerled by direct male line descent, however this assumption is not based on proven fact.

Recent ( 2009 ) peer reviewed published work by Prof Anatole Klyosov, Editor in Chief of the Proceedings of the Russian Academy of DNA Genealogy draws into question the ethnicity of Somerled and also seems to draw into question the claimed relationship of some clans to Somerled. Amceache (talk) 22:19, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Before you go quoting Klyosov, you ought to have a look at the wikipedia piece on R1a, where Klyosov's work is already the subject of heated discussion. Also, Sykes' work is not presented as fact, but simply as the opinion of a noted geneticist. Wikipedia is not peer-reviewed. It's the amalgam of editing by many editors. It's fair to present Sykes' opinion, as long as it's not presented as fact but as the opinion of one researcher. MarmadukePercy (talk) 22:24, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
Hot debate in the scientific community. This is exactly what the scientific community expects of itself. This is quite well acknowledged. After all if the scientific and broader community just accept previously or currently published information as fact without debate then we stagnate and do not move forward in our learning. I accept it is fair to present Sykes' opinion, however it must be noted that the research is not available for the public to even see. I was not asking for it to be removed, however it Sykes' opinion appears to have been used in this article to support the view that Somerled was Norse by being followed by the line "often considered the marker of Viking descent among men of deep British or Scottish ancestry". Amceache (talk) 23:12, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
The Clan Donald itself has accepted Sykes's conclusions, as evidenced by the website of the clan's own genetics project. [6] Note their conclusions: "Our pattern is seen almost exclusively in Norway, adjacent parts of Scandinavia (though not at all in Denmark), Iceland, and the parts of Highland Scotland and the Western Isles where it is associated mostly with the Clan Donald itself. This pattern of the 'Norse R1a' as it is best called has lead to the deduction that it came to Scotland with the Norse Vikings (not Danish Vikings). When tied with our Clan history and the very name 'Somerled', which is the English version of the Gaelic version of a Norse word meaning 'Viking,' this becomes a near certainty." And, in fact, the Somerled y-Dna motif is now referred to as just that. It is worth noting that whether Sykes is accurate or not, the 'Somerled modal haplotype' is M458 negative, which is consistent with Norwegian R1a1. MarmadukePercy (talk) 23:31, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
You may wish to review the very recent discussions on this topic which can be found at [[7]]. I have also added some info to the Somerled name section above which may be of interest. Amceache (talk) 23:59, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
As you're new to wikipedia, you might want to be aware of the sourcing of information. Rootsweb discussions generally are not considered reliable sources. MarmadukePercy (talk) 00:08, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Fair call. (Even if they are directly between Dr Klyosov and the administrator of the Clan Donald project?) The research paper published by Dr Klyosov can not be linked to from within wiki, however it pays quite a lot of attention to Clan Donald. You have drawn attention to the Clan Donald research which also clearly states "The same tests described above can be applied to this data. This analysis confirms that the main R1a Clan Donald line is indeed the line of Somerled's grandson "Donald the eponymous". The marker DYS458 appears, based on this limited data, to distinguish MacDonald from MacAllister. One R1a participant from Glencoe (whose line branches off from a brother of Lord John) also shares 15 at DYS458. We now beleive that we have sufficient data to show that the ancestral state was 15 at DYS458 and that the actual mutation occured with the birth of Lord John himself, his father, or grandfather. While this is not absolute proof, we consider it reliable at the 90% or better level. DYS458 is a fairly fast marker, and we do see what are likely back and parallel mutations. The number we see is quite accurately in accord with the known mutation rate. The pattern of 11 at DYS442 and 12 at DYS438 is indicative of the name Alexander, though we do not know at all if this is a universal diagnostic". Dr Klyosovs' research indicates that having the 15 at DYS458 defines you as a separate "branch" of the "Young Scandinavian Tree". Amceache (talk) 00:37, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Keep in mind that having DYS 458 = 15 really doesn't necessarily distinguish R1a1 as young or Scandinavian. The remains of three individuals found at Eulau, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, in 2005 were found to have DYS458=15. These individuals, some of the earliest traces of R1a found in ancient Y-Dna in Europe, died in about 4600 BC. MarmadukePercy (talk) 00:58, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I could not agree with you more. I did not want to imply that having DYS 458 = 15 is exclusive to this branch. Dr Klyosov uses inverted commas in the names of the branches. DYS 458 = 15 is predominant in what he calls the "Old Scandinavian" branch which he says has a common ancestor of 4100+/-700 ybp. Amceache (talk) 01:43, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
RE M458 negative. This is exibited in some 14 other branches of R1a1 including Siberian R1a1. It is not exclusivelly Norwegian. Amceache (talk) 03:06, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
I never said it was. You misunderstood my point. It predates the later M458 positive mutation, which branched off the main tree. You need to do some more reading on this subject. MarmadukePercy (talk) 03:15, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
And the point is.....that M458 negative is consistant with 14 other branches of the main tree, not just the one you draw exclusive attention to. Amceache (talk) 11:24, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
Once again, you have misunderstood. I never said M458 negative is exclusively Norwegian. That's absurd. Because M458 positive was a later mutation, M458 negative characterized the entire tree prior to the later mutation. But sampling has shown that M458 negative is consistent with R1a1 from Norway, where M458 is nonexistent, according to sampling.[8] That's all that can be said. MarmadukePercy (talk) 13:05, 26 January 2010 (UTC)
The opinion of Doug MacDonald, coordinator of the Clan Donald DNA Project, as to whether Somerled was viking may be of interest to some.[9]Amceache (talk) 21:20, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Annals Of Ireland[edit]

Annals of Ulster U1164.4

Somharlidh Mac Gilla-Adhamhnain and his son were killed and slaughter of the Men of Airthir-Gaedhel and of Cenn-tire and of the men of Insi-Gall and of the Foreigners of Ath-cliath.

This can not be the man that we call Somerled. Somerleds father was not Gilladomnan. There is no mention of Renfrew and no mention of the name of this mans son. I presume 99.99% of references to Somerleds death use this as the basis of the "fact" for their reference.

Annals of the Four Masters M1083.10

Somhairle, son of Gillabrighde, King of Innsi-Gall, died.

Rather than have the annalists accused of getting this wrong I am accusing most historians of ignoring this quite obvious reference to a man called Somerled, who had a father called Gillebride and was king of Innsi Gall.Amceache (talk) 03:58, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

I think I've read that the Mac Gille Adhamhnain is thought to refer to a clan name or some sort, rather than a true patronym. Read what the Annals of Tigernach give for 1164: Somairle mac Gilla Brighdi, rí Indsi Gall & Cind Tire, & a mac .i. Gilla Brighdi, co n-ár Gall Atha Cliath araen ríu, do marbadh la Firu Alban [10]. I don't think it's very likely that there were two different Somerleds of note who were killed in 1164—a "Somerled, son of Gille Adhamhnain", and a "Somerled, son of Gillbride, king of the Hebrides and Kintyre". They have to be considered the same. About the 1083 entry: I don't think historians are covering up anything if they disregard the date. Do the annals, or anything else, make any other mention of an 11th century king "Somerled, son of Gillbride"? What do historians think of that entry, a mistake?--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:57, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Alex Woolf ("The origins and ancestry of Somerled") is useful on this. You'll find a copy (for now anyway) cached on Google if you search for "four-masters 1083 somerled". Essentially Woolf sees it as a product of inventive C17th Clan Donald propaganda, along with good old Gofraid mac Fergusa. As for "mac Gilla Adamnáin", Woolf notes that Sellar saw this as a lineage name. For myself, I can't help noticing that it is only a missing "meic" away from agreeing with the not-necessarily-very-reliable genealogies. The "mac meic" formula is hardly uncommon in the C11th/C12th. But this is just me guessing and not worth much. Angus McLellan (Talk) 22:21, 5 March 2010 (UTC)
I was not accusing historians of covering up anything. I was accusing them of ignoring a blatant reference to a man called Somerled who had a father called Gillebride who died in 1083AD. Whatever the historians reasons or motivations behind blatantly disregarding this entry, I have no idea and accuse them of nothing more than ignoring this. What of the lineage or clan name now, does it exist? Do we have any valid sources to suggest that Mac Gille Adhamhnain is actually a valid clan name? Or are we relying once again on a single reference source that can not be cross referenced against any other valid historical sources? Probably not, however others may know definitely so. As further yDNA and historical research is about to be published in this area, it is perhaps best to wait until then. I am sure many will be surprised to read the research and its findings. Amceache (talk) 03:11, 16 March 2010 (UTC)
Ah I just came across the lineage name again. In Kingship and Unity: Scotland 1000-1306, G.W.S. Barrow notes that "Uspak" (d. 1230) (who may be a son of Dubgall mac Somairle), is recorded with the name 'Uspak son of Owmund'. The actual quote from the Manx Chronicle reads: "Husbac filium Owmundi". These names may be Norse, as in: Óspakr, son of Ögmundr. But Barrow stated that they probably actually refer Uspak's native Gaelic name which could be: "Gilleasbuig Macgilleadhamhnain"! If that's the case, then maybe "mac Gilla Adamnáin" truly did refer to Somerled's lineage, and was used by some of his descendants. But I also saw that Sellar doesn't seem to think that "Uspak" equates to Gilleasbuig, and he stated that maybe Ögmundr referred a foster-father. So nothings certain, though it's kinda interesting with the different possibilities.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 08:59, 1 July 2010 (UTC)
Just read Woolf 2005 and added a bit from this. I do however find the conclusion baffling. The "invention" of Gofraid mac Fergusa is certainly a plausible idea, and it is no more likely that Gofraid ua Ímair would be recalled as an ancestor with any greater degree of accuracy over the span of time involved. However quoting five sources that give the mysterious Gofraid circa six generations before Somerled and then concluding that he was in fact his wife's grandfather! This is rather reminiscent of the "Demon Theory of Friction" by Eric Rogers - there is no evidence for it but no way of proving it wrong. Ben MacDui 20:05, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Unless... I have just read in Peter Youngson's Jura: Island of Deer (p. 80) "Gillebride of Clan Angus had married a daughter of the King of Man, but was forced into exile in Ireland. His Norse wife has a son who was christened Sumarlidi...". This could make Somerled King Orry's grandson. Anyone know the source of this? Ben MacDui 20:42, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
That parentage doesn't appear in the 17th/18th century History of the MacDonalds and Book of Clanranald.p5pp153-155. It must come from somewhere else. Sellar doesn't appear to mention it in his paper on Somerled's origins.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 07:04, 1 November 2011 (UTC)

"87 generations"[edit]

Sykes' genealogy "studies" also speak about "87 generations" since Somerled. That would be one generation in 10 years ... --Jhartmann (talk) 14:53, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

New 'paper' by Klyosov?[edit]

This piece now contains this paragraph: "In 2010 Anatole Klyosov and Andrew MacEacharn published a research article titled "Scotland's R1a1 Highland Clansmen DNA Genealogy and the Search for Somerled". This article defines the paternal associations between many R1a1 Highland Clansmen and calls into doubt the existance of a patriarch named Somerled, living in the time historical documents say he did. The research indicates Clan Donald have a common ancestor at least 100 years before the assumed existance of Somerled. The research indicates that Clan Donald have a paternal branch which has clan names such as MacEacharn, Homes, Gordon and Swinton. The branch which is ancestral to Clan Donald has a common ancestor born somewhere in the first half of the first millenium AD. This person can hardly be called ancestrally Norse or a viking."

The citation links to an article, but it is unclear that the article was ever published or peer reviewed. It appears to be self-published, with no notation on where it appeared. Can someone (or the IP address who posted this) clear up this mystery? MarmadukePercy (talk) 05:20, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Have looked at it, read it through. The article is trash and says nothing about anything. The authors have no connection to aristocracy whatsoever but act like they "know something about it". DinDraithou (talk) 06:03, 9 August 2010 (UTC)
All removed. But I am sure it gives this page watchdogs something to think about. As to the authors having no connection to what? Aristocracy has absolutely nothing to do with the research. Briannan...thank you for reading it. The researchers went to some trouble to show that Clan Donald and the Scandinavian R1a1's are related distantly....very distantly. As to the article being "trash and says nothing about anything". You are entitled to your "opinion". Amceache (talk) 22:18, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
We're all open to new ideas here. But sources must be reliable. Is this something you posted? If so, can you clarify where it was published? Thanks. MarmadukePercy (talk) 22:21, 10 August 2010 (UTC)
It originates from here,[11] a site "organized and upheld by enthusiasts and bearers of the haplogroup R1a1".[12] The "Russian Academy of DNA Genealogy" likes to cite Wikipedia as a source, apparently. Klyosov is not a geneticist, and Andrew MacEacharn does not really exist on the internet, however nice a person. The latter is apparently our poster. Again, the article is trash and says nothing about anything. DinDraithou (talk) 00:18, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Oh and it cites the Book of Veles! DinDraithou (talk) 00:50, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
"Our vision is to restore the history of the R1a1 clade, by using methods of DNA genealogy," is how that site presents its mission. I wasn't aware that the 'history' of the R1a1 clade needed 'restoring.' How odd. MarmadukePercy (talk) 00:53, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Homepage of Klyosov.[13] So he might be someone of moderate accomplishment, but DNA genealogy would appear to be a hobby and he lacks an academic background in the area. Because Andrew MacEacharn is likely responsible for the distortions, being an interested party (Clan MacEacharn) for whatever obscure reasons or simply lacking the right environment or information, we can excuse Klyosov for simply getting interested. This scientist himself would appear to have something of a reputation for trying out "new methods" in dating so I think we can disregard his results. Neither he nor MacEacharn understand the complexity of the Norse-Gaelic world nor appear to have any conception of the dynasties operating within it, as well as in Scandinavian York and elsewhere in England. They were all related and this went back centuries before Somerled's time. Some academics have even suggested the Norse were in regular contact with the Picts and Gaels long before there were major (recorded) happenings and the raids began. I wish I could remember where I read that. DinDraithou (talk) 03:06, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I have no doubt Dr. Klyosov is a highly intelligent man, and likely pretty accomplished. But as you say, that doesn't necessarily translate into the realm of population genetics. Klyosov has his vocal defenders, but I, like you, find this particular paper very thin gruel. Sadly, there's a real market out there for any sort of speculation, by nearly anyone, regardless of qualification, as the interest in genetic genealogy explodes, apace with developments in the lab. (Next up: autosomal testing.) You've raised good points here, Din. Thanks. MarmadukePercy (talk) 03:27, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Quite "interesting discussions". The post has served it's purpose. Thank you.Amceache (talk) 03:51, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
You never answered the question. Are you, in fact, the co-author of the article? If so, why obscure your authorship? MarmadukePercy (talk) 03:55, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I did not think it was wikipedia policy for people who post on this site to personally identify themselves. You ask a very personal question and you, Sir, have absolutely no right to ask this question. The answer is who cares. The research may or may not be quoted on this page, ever, I do not care. Your personal evaluations of the research and your comments about the researchers are quite irrelevant as I am sure you must understand. Now, how about this. The references to the research is not on the main page, its gone. If you want to talk some more we can wait till someone makes refernce to it, but I won't be holding my breath waiting for that momentous occasion.Amceache (talk) 08:54, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
Here is something we can talk about. In the main page the research work of Professor Sykes is quoted. Can you two tell me where this work can be found to be published? Can you tell me also where on the internet is the only place it can be found? Don't worry, I will kindly tell you. It can be found here. The Genetic Structure of a Highland Clan.[14]. Can you two tell me who owns Oxford Ancestors? Don't worry I will also answer that one for you. Professor Bryan Sykes is the owner of Oxford Ancestors. So lets see.... if Professor Sykes produces this research and owns the company that has the website that has published this research then by wikipedia standards this is called self published research. I do not care for how many times this research has been quoted, it is originally self published. It appears that this has gone unnoticed by the ever vigilant administrators who are all too ready to post here. However I am sure that now I have made you aware of this oversight, it will be rectified, unless of course it can be shown that Professor Sykes research by Wikipedia standards is not self published research. One more thing, DinDraithou, what do you think of Professor Sykes research, since you are so obviously qualified to have an opinion? I am very interested in hearing you state your opinion in public. Since you are also so obviously qualified to have an opinion on the quality of the research work produced in this area, tell me, how does the research compare?Amceache (talk) 13:45, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I give you credit for this and these are excellent points. But he has probably stayed because he is a well known person, and his claims are not very controversial, and everyone has got used to them being here. I personally do not care for him and think his work is lazy and popular, of little account. That passage could certainly be removed. It simply states the obvious, being old now, and doesn't really contribute to the article. DinDraithou (talk) 14:12, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
I have mixed feelings about Bryan Sykes's work. But we're looking at the citation here. His paper may not have been published, but the citation here is to The Scotsman, which did, like many other reliable sources, give this information extensive media coverage. Were the paper by Klyosov to be noted in The New York Times or The Telegraph, we could cite them as sources. That in no way verifies Sykes's assumptions or his work. MarmadukePercy (talk) 18:43, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
The continuing work and research in the L176.1+ SNP will be extremely valuable in this area. Doug MacDonald from the Clan Donald project, a man who deserves much applause for his efforts and research in the R1a1 area, had this SNP discovered in him. As far as I am aware all of Clan Donald participants who have been tested are positive. I am also aware that two members of what Anatole describes as the Young Scandinavian Branch, the branch that appears ancestral to Clan Donald have also tested positive for this SNP. One is the co author of the article. I am aware that no "Norse" type R1a1 ie those showing 15/9 and 19/21 are L176.1+. All of them so far are negative and this has been confirmed by the R1a1 FTDNA project admin and private sources. These are the Scandinavian types that are quoted as providing the Norse bloodline to Somerled and therefore Clan Donald. There is now an obvious attempt to fix the date of this SNP, however as stated it does not exist in what has been previously thought as the ancestral line to Somerled or Clan Donald through the typical Norse R1a1. So as more SNP results come through we will have some idea as to its origin. From reading the research MacEacharn seems to have a common ancestor sometime in the middle of the first millenium AD. This may be the date of the SNP and it may not be, it could be older or younger than this common ancestor. BUT given this possible date, at the moment, I wouldn't be thinking Somerled was anything but ancestrally Scots. The viking age had hardly begun and what was Ireland back then? As far as I know it was an island near another island with some water between them. No idea of nationhood existed in those times, I dont think. Even after reading the research by MacEacharn and Klyosov, the jury must still be out, as to Somerleds ancestral ethnicity.Amceache (talk) 23:36, 11 August 2010 (UTC)
More news on the SNP L176.1. The Scottish branch of the R1a1 tree now has two sub branches. One being the Highland Branch (ancestral to Clan Donald) and the other being the Lowland Branch. All tested in the Highland and Clan Donald branches are positive for this SNP. The Lowland branch, which includes names such as Gordon, Swinton and Homes are negative to this SNP. It is very reasonable to say that the Lowland Branch is ancestral to the Highland branch which in turn is ancestral to the Clan Donald branch. If people are still looking for some type of "viking" ancestry for Somerled than I suggest they start with Clan Gordon. Amceache (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 23:38, 26 January 2011 (UTC).

Recent edits, June 2012[edit]

The Moffat book doesn't bring into question the R1a claim. On page 192, he states that 23 percent of a 164 MacDonald sample carry a marker which is a "Norse subgroup of M17", and concludes that "Somerled's own ancestors did indeed originate in Scandinavia". He then notes that 12 percent of the MacDonald sample carry what he calls a "classic R1b Pict marker", and concludes that these men must descend from a powerful man "whose identity is now lost but who chose to join with Clan Donald and adopt the name". So Moffat can't be used to present an argument of Somerled's paternal ancestry being Pictish, or anything but Scandinavian.--Brianann MacAmhlaidh (talk) 09:00, 9 June 2012 (UTC)


There is very little at all to prove Somerled was R1a. The "proof" is based upon the presumption that the Chiefs of Clan Donald, some MacAlisters, MacDougals etc claim descent from Somerled. And as stated elsewhere without a body, there is practically no way this riddle will ever be fully solved once and for all. Now as to Viking etc I will harp on again. Somerled definitely was not of "Viking" descent. His yDNA if it was R1a appears to have migrated to Scotland down through Scandinavia. It also appears that the branches of his particular (apparent) type of yDNA if it was R1a were in the Western Isles and Highlands Scotland quite some time before the viking era even started. This particular type of yDNA also has cousins in lowland Scotland in the form of Clan Homes.Amceache (talk) 01:58, 17 December 2012 (UTC)

Somerled's R1b haplotype[edit]

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