Clan Colla 425 null

R-Z3000: The Three Collas (Z3008) and cousins (Z16270, Z29586, BY3160)
  • 877 members

About us

Welcome to the Z3000 Clan Colla 425 Null Project!

Very Important Information about Joining the Project

If you join the project, be sure the administrators have Limited Access to your kit so they can see your matches.

Join this project if you are interested in paternal ancestry:

  • your tester has done Y-DNA testing (male tester only)

  • his predicted haplogroup is of the R-M269 type

  • his 48th STR is 425=0

Family Finder and mt-DNA testing will not help you track your paternal ancestry in this project.

This DNA project is not one of the very general projects such as Ireland DNA, and it is not a general surname catch all, where anyone can join no matter what their DNA markers are.  And not everyone who has one of the listed surnames, will necessarily have markers that match the signature DNA of the Collas.  Most testers will not match the DNA profile that is required to be a part of this project.  As well, the highest expectation of having Colla DNA may be no better than about 50% if you have a Colla surname.

Clan Colla Project Summary

The Clan Colla 425 null project is for anyone who has the R-Z3000 SNP, named by Mike Walsh in 2013. "425 null" refers to STR 425=0, a predictor of Z3000.

(You do not need to know what SNPs and STRs are, but SNP stands for "single nucleotide polymorphism" and STR stands for "short tandem repeat.")

R-Z3000 is the Y-DNA SNP of two groups: 
 - R-Z3008 - SNP of The Three Collas, who lived in 4th century Ulster - Origin of The Three Collas
 - R-Z16270, R-Z29586, and BY3160 - SNPs of cousins of The Three Collas

The best test for Clan Colla DNA is Big Y-700. It will tell you where you fall on the Clan Colla Big Y SNP tree now and as it grows in the future.

Lesser tests can predict Z3000, but they do not tell you where you fall on the Z3000 SNP tree. The Y-67 test includes predictors STR 511=9 and 425=0. The Y-111 test includes additionally predictors STR 505=9 and 441=12.

Identification of the Y-DNA of The Three Collas rests upon the similarity (as of October 2020) between Two Matching Sets of Names:
     1. a set of 20 surnames in the ancient genealogies of The Three Collas and
     2. a set of 20 surnames among 232 testers out of a total of 466 with the Y-DNA SNP  called R-Z3008.

It also rests upon the pedigrees of:
 - four McDonalds who trace their ancestry back to Colla Uais - 43 Generations: Colla to McDonald
 - two McMahons who trace their ancestry back to Colla da Crioch - 50 Generations: Colla to McMahon

In addition to identifying the Y-DNA of The Three Collas, the project has identified historical persons or groups that do not have that Y-DNA: Conn of the Hundred Battles;  Niall of the Nine Hostages; Kelly of Hy-Maine; and Clan Donald of Dunnyveg, Kepoch, Vallay, Glengarry, and Clanranald.


Clan Colla SNP Tree

Over 100 members of the Clan Colla project have done Big Y testing at FTDNA. This has made it possible to construct a tree of SNPs downstream of Z3000. For a summary of the latest version of this tree, see: Abridged Clan Colla SNP Tree. For the full tree, see Unabridged Clan Colla Big Y SNP Tree.

What Defines Clan Colla DNA?

Z3000 SNP:
..... R-M269>L23>P311>P312>L21>DF13>DF21>S971>Z3000

Key STR markers predict the Z3000 SNP:

..... 47th STR: 511=9 
..... 48th STR: 425=0

..... 76th STR: 505=9
..... 91st STR: 441=12

Testing Alternatives

  1. Big Y SNPs: Testing for SNPs on a large portion of your Y chromosome through BIG Y-700. This is the ultimate in Y-DNA testing at FTDNA. Clan Colla DNA includes the Z3000 SNP and many downstream SNPs that are unique to Clan Colla. It also includes upstream SNPs, such as L21 and DF21. There are three parts to the Big Y-700 test:
        - Big Y SNPs.
        - Automatic upgrade to 111 STRs for those who have not done 111 STRs.
        - Additional 589 STRs, to bring the total STRs to 700.
  2. 67 STRs: Testing 67 STRs, which includes key Clan Colla STRs: 511=9 and 425=0. The 67-STR test is enough to verify Clan Colla DNA if the genetic distance from the 67-STR Clan Colla modal DNA is 11 or less. This test for Big Y testers helps us place other testers in SNP subgroups.
  3. 111 STRs: Testing 111 STR markers, which includes key Clan Colla STRs: 511=9, 425=0, 505=9, and 441=12. The 111-marker test is enough to verify Clan Colla DNA. This test for Big Y testers helps us place other testers in SNP subgroups.
  4. Individual SNPs: Testing for the Z3000 SNP or a few other ancient individual SNPs downstream of Z3000. A few men have done this after testing 67 STR markers. This is much less expensive than Big Y testing. It verifies Clan Colla DNA, but provides no downstream SNPs for placing oneself on the BIG Y SNP tree.
  5. Z3000 SNP Pack: Testing for the SNPs in the Z3000 SNP pack. A few members have done this after testing 67 STRs. This is less expensive than Big Y testing. The SNP pack verifies Clan Colla DNA and often provides downstream SNP matches, but does not test for recently-discovered downstream SNPs nor SNPs that will be discovered in the future.
  6. Upstream SNP Packs: Testing for SNPs in the M343, P312, L21, and DF21 SNP Packs. A few men have done these SNP packs when they had no idea that they had Clan Colla DNA. These SNP packs include the Z3000 SNP, but no downstream SNPs.

Colla Subgroups

To better understand the DNA data that has been accumulated, the public Results page for the Colla Project has been broken down into subgroups that are branches of the Clan Colla Big Y SNP tree. Testers not on the Clan Colla Big Y SNP tree are predicted to belong in these subgroups based on:
  • Genetic distance from testers on the SNP tree
  • Uniqueness of certain STRs
  • Family genealogy
  • Surname
There is a Diverse subgroup at the end that consists of testers who are too difficult to predict.

FTDNA Test Results

FTDNA provides two kinds of test results: individual and public.
  • Individual Test Results (homepage called myFTDNA, password-protected)
  • Haplogroup
  • Matches
  • STR Results
  • Haplotree and SNPs
  • Big Y Block Tree, Results, and Matches
  • Personal Information
  • Personal Profile
  • Contact Information
  • Account Settings
  • Genealogy
  • Beneficiary Information
  • Privacy & Sharing
  • My Profile
  • My DNA Results (we suggest Anyone)
  • Account Access
  • Order History
  • Projects (we suggest your surname, DF21, L21, P312, R1b. There is no cost for joining multiple projects)
  • Public Test Results for current Clan Colla project participants
  • STR Results, including subgroup, kit, ancestor name, and haplogroup
  • SNP Results, including kit, ancestor name, and haplogroup

Project Administrators

  • Josiah McGuire. Josiah McGuire had his DNA tested in 2004. In early 2005 he recognized that he matched several other people with Colla surnames and began studying those matches. After upgrading to 67 markers in 2006, Josiah learned that he had a null value for marker 425, as did the other Colla surnames. In 2007 Josiah computed modal values for the DNA of the Three Collas and put it on Ysearch with the user ID of DURRQ. In June 2009, he started the Clan Colla 425 null at FTDNA to attract Clan Colla descendants, encourage upgrades to the 67-marker test, and promote Clan Colla research. Josiah's DNA is kit #23171. He traces his family back to the eponymous Josiah McGuire, who was born in 1794 in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Josiah lives in Indiana, USA. His email address is:
  • Patrick McMahon. Patrick Ciaran McMahon had his DNA test in 2009. He is an administrator of the Clan Colla Null 425 Project. In addition to being a fellow Colla descendant, Patrick spent a good part of his career working as a geneticist and lives in Ireland. Patrick's DNA is kit #145687. Patrick has an advanced degree in genetics from Trinity College Dublin. He has traced his family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century (see 49 Generations: Colla to McMahon). Patrick lives in Gorey, Ireland. His email address is:
  • Thomas Roderick, 1930-2013. Thomas Huston Roderick PhD, passed away September 4, 2013, at home in Bar Harbor, Maine, USA. He had his DNA tested at FTDNA in 2003. He was administrator of the Roderick-Rhydderch Family Project at FTDNA as well as the Clan Colla Null 425 Project. Tom's DNA is kit #8551. His genetic distance from the Colla Modal DNA is 8. He had recruited 13 other Rodericks to the Clan Colla project. Tom graduated from the University of Michigan in philosophy in 1952 and zoology in 1953 and from the University of California, Berkeley, with a PhD in 1959. He then joined The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, as a staff scientist in genetics where he remained for 37 years. Tom cofounded the Center for Human Genetics. He was a member of the National Genealogical Society and had traced his family back to Rhydderch Evan who was born circa 1700 in Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales. Tom had also been a research geneticist and an Associate Editor of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy. Tom was one of the original members of the international Human Genome Organisation in 1988. Obituary

Origin of The Three Collas

In 2018, Patrick McMahon, Administrator of the Clan Colla 425 null Project, reviewed the origin of and establishment of The Three Collas. Patrick, a geneticist, put the review together with his brother Eugene, who is a historian. Patrick and Eugene have traced their family back to Faolan MacMathghamhna (Felim/Phelan MacMahon), who lived in County Monaghan in the early 12th century. 

The contention that the Collas are “descended from the sons of Eochaid Doimlen, younger son of Cairbre Lifechair, High King of Ireland in the 3rd century A.D" has been the position taken by people involved in the genealogy of the Collas over the last few years. This interpretation is incorrect both on genetic and historical evidence and should be abandoned.

The Colla Genetic Profile

It was evident from early analysis that those later classified as Colla were uniquely R1b having a deletion at DYS 425. Deletions by their nature are non reversible and thus it was possible to identify (among all testers) those who belonged to the Colla group as the deletion is faithfully transmitted from generation to generation. More recently, the overarching SNP mutation, Z3000 (and descendants), have been identified as defining what was then called the Colla group even though its occurrence pre-dated the arrival on the scene of the (named) Colla brothers. It therefore follows that the Z3000 clade encompasses more than those descended from the Colla brothers.

  • Z16270 (133/550 testers). This clade is one of two major sub-clades (from Z3000) and contains NW European names such as Godwin (Godswen - pre 7th c. Anglo-Saxon), Almond (Norman French 'Aleman', German), Bumgarner (Austrian), Judd (old German, 'Jordanes') and almost certainly remained continentally based until later invasions such as that of the Anglo-Saxons. Sub-sub clades contain names, such as Paden, Johnson, Robertson, Newell, Webb, Roderick, Calkins, and Carroll, most typically found in NW Britannia.

  • Z3008 (389/550 testers), This is the second major Sub-clade (from Z3000) and is where history tells us known Colla descendants such as Oriel McMahons, Hughes, Carroll, Callan, McQuillin, McDonald (of the Isles), McGuire, Biggins, McKenna, Connolly are to be found.

As Z3000 pre-dates the earliest mention of the Colla brothers by about 300 years, it would seem logical (now that there is a clearer genetic picture) to refer to Z16270 and its sub-clades by their clade names. Colla should only be used for the nested clades under Z3008. (See The Colla Phylogenetic Tree.)

The Colla Historic Profile

One view is that the 4th c. Colla brothers were Roman trained mercenaries of the Trinovantes Tribe who came from Colchester[1]. Schlegel is persuasive in arguing in favour of the Roman method of nomenclature and the possibility of Colchester origins. An alternative might be migration via the Dal Riada bridge as there are about 50% of Collas who have Scottish names (McDonald and the like). If migration from Britain (and everything points to this at present) was the Colla origin, then the notion that they are descended from Fiacha Srabhteine (ancestor of O'Neill) cannot hold. Genetically, they are totally different from Niall of the nine hostages alleged haplogroup (R-M222 which branched from DF13 and is therefore mutually exclusive from the Colla DF21 heritage). Putting Colla in among O'Neills is genetic nonsense.

Geographic Spread

The mounting genetic evidence supports the view that the progenitor (of the Collas) arose in NW Europe or Southern England. The question is how did they spread and become prolific in Scotland (Highlands/Western Isles) and Ireland (almost exclusively in greater Oriel)? It could be argued that they moved with the migratory flow northward and westward and the 17% or so detected today in England and Wales represent the genetic footprint of their passage. They obviously were very successful in establishing their presence in Oriel and Western Scotland, today's testers being equally represented in both areas. Did they1 fork at say Chester as the genetics suggest establishing parallel cultures in both areas;2 go to Oriel as Schlegel suggests and from there, in the form of Colla Uais, go to Dal Riada;3 go to Scotland and from there invade Oriel by the shortest sea crossing.

They obviously did establish themselves (very successfully) in Oriel. Was this the result of an opportunistic raid by disgruntled and probably unpaid, ex Roman military (like the Vikings years later) or a well organized logistically supported invasive army (although undocumented), organized by the High King (Establishment). A most probable embarkation point would have been Chester (the largest military town in Britannia at that time with access to boats and the Irish Sea). They would have to have made landfall somewhere like Carlingford to get into the heart of Oriel all of which is creditable as Tacitus states ... "the approaches and harbours [of Ireland] are [better] known due to trade and merchants". There must have been navigational knowledge available to (Roman) sailors on how to get to the Eastern side of Ireland.


Schlegel in a further expansion of his work[2] acknowledges that “the history of lreland before the sixth century, as passed down to us from the seventh and later centuries, is a construction by the scholars of that later era. Because of their efforts to synchronize the undated records of Irish pre-history with each other and with events in the classical world, these monastic scholars have sometimes been called the 'synchronists'. The tasks they carried out were to give Ireland a glorious past in which all of the people of the island were a single nation, and to place that nation within the biblical history of the world”. Further, he doesn't seem to have much time for the far-fetched story of the Colla brothers working for their alleged (O’Neill) uncle, then killing him, stealing his throne, being chased out of Ireland by the King's son and then (shortly afterwards) returning to work for said son. Schlegel seems to put this down to later scribes massaging history and indeed getting into all sorts of chronological difficulties through their efforts to coordinate the reigns of the kings of Ulster with those of the High Kings at Tara.

Historic Background

We should forget about attributing any real prominence to the title of "High King", as it held little political sway before the advent of Brian Boru in the early 11th c. Instead, what we are dealing with is the ongoing efforts of provincial kings to extend their territorial sway. And, of course, beneath them you had smaller kingdoms and, beneath them in turn, you had the lords of petty kingdoms (tuatha).

In the 4th-5th c. A.D. period that we are dealing with, there were three main kingdoms in Ulster alone, although the inhabitants were referred to collectively as the Ulaidh (people of Ulster). Among them, the principal native population was identified as Cruithni (pre-Gael people likened to the Scottish Picts). Moving against them, seemingly, were the Ui Neill dynasty that originated in North Connacht, but spread eastwards from there into Meath (where they occupied Tara) and northwards into Inishowen. This would have been the dynasty that engaged the services of the Collas under Muredach Tirech.

According to Schlegel, this militaristic effort was spread over three campaigns spanning 70-80 years, following which the Cruithni nobility were driven into Antrim (Dal Riada). Various branches of the Ui Neill dynasty then successfully established themselves in separate kingdoms such as Tir Conaill and Tir Eoghan.

The Collas also got their reward in terms of territory to the south of that, but always subject to the overlordship of their original employers (who were now called the southern Ui Neill), based in Tara. It wasn't until about 650 A.D. that the overlordship to which they were subject became that of the northern Ui Neill.

This adds credence to the notion that the Irish in Dalriada colonized western Scotland, rather than the other way around. Indeed, Mallory[3] dates this to around 500 A.D.


Schlegel ties the Colla arrival in Ireland with the mass desertions that occurred in the Roman army in Britain in 367 A.D, as the Empire slowly imploded. Also, he maintains that the mercenary services of the Collas and their sons and grandsons (for the Tara dynasty) lasted for 70 or more years, from the very late 4th century until well into the 5th.

As for "mighty battles", I think that we should presume that they were more on the modest scale, given how long that it took them to complete the conquest of Ulster. That being said, the first such recorded one was the battle of Carn Achad Leth Derg (Carn Roe in Currin Parish, Dartrey) was probably fought in 392 A.D. This ties in with the previously-mentioned notion that the Collas only arrived in Ireland sometime well after 367 A.D.

Then fast forward to the battle of Creeve Derg where the fortress of Eamhain Macha was finally captured from the Ulaidh c. 470 A.D. through the efforts of the Airgialla (confederation of Ulster clans including the Collas).

So the Collas didn't come by their kingdom of Oriel that easily, and it certainly took a few generations of Collas to complete it. 367 A.D. makes chronological sense of the written narrative. The name of the game is to marry up in the most sensible way the sparse (but possibly as good as it gets) genetic data and perceived prehistory and finally lay the ghost of the less than honest written accounts of our forebears.


Having analysed the current genetic, historical and published information, it can be stated with a fair degree of confidence, that the following is a close approximation of events that led to the evolution of the Colla sub-population within the DF21 clade:

  • In or around the beginning of the first millennium, the Z3000 mutation occurred in the DF21 population, probability in Continental Europe. This and subsequent nested SNP mutations define the Z3000 sub-populations.

  • About 300 years later, three brothers who were named in the Roman convention as Cairell Colla Uais, Muredach Colla fo Crich, Aed Colla Mend, were identified historically as fighting the Ulaidh in Oriel, mid 4th c. Historically known descendants of the Collas (Carroll, McMahon, McKenna etc) are in the Z3008 clade along with others and can be referred to as Collas.

  • Also in the Z3000 clade, with very similar genetic profiles, are people with totally different names and geographic locations outside Ireland. These are in and descend from the Z16270 clade (a sub-clade of Z3000). These should not be referred to as Collas but rather as belonging to Z16270 or its nested sub-clades.

  • In the absence of any documented large scale Roman incursion into Ulster, it can only be concluded that the Colla force was in Oriel by invitation of the overwhelming Ui Neills and acted as a blocking force against the Ulaidh. As a small (though successful opportunistic raiding party), they would hardly have been tolerated by Ui Neill unless they offered something beneficial. This was in all probability a military disciplined extended fighting family (common among Roman military) with the latest Roman weaponry and tactics.

  • Such a small disciplined force would wreak havoc among the largely untrained rural dwellers allowing them to capture crannog after crannog. Whatever the details, the Collas were able to acquire enough territory to sustain and grow their population over the next few generations.

  • Ultimately, with increasing population sizes, pitched battles were fought by the Collas and others (Airgialla) finally defeating the Cruithni at Eamhain Macha. Much of the territory formally held by the Cruithni then passed to the Collas.

Patrick McMahon (Gorey, Wexford, 2018) ©

Eugene McMahon (Hamilton, Ontario, 2018) © 

1Donald M. Schlegel, “The Origin of The Three Collas and the Fall of Emain”. The Clogher Record, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181.

2Donald M. Schlegel, “Reweaving the Tapestry of Ancient Ulster”; Clogher Record, Volume XVII, No. 3, 2002, pp. 689-750.

3J. P. Mallory, The Origins of the Irish, 2013.

Several people commented on the above review. Their comments can be found at Commentary.

Etymological Theory for the Collas

In 1998, Donald M. Schlegel, suggested (in his article "The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain" in the Clogher Record), that "The Three Collas" were Romanized Celtic Britons from the Trinovantes, a celtic tribe from Colchester, the oldest recorded Roman town in England.  He wrote as well, that the Collas are perhaps the only instance in prehistoric or early historic Ireland of three brothers having each a personal name, a name in common, and an epithet. His implication being that such a naming convention must have been imported, and the obvious source is the Roman Empire.  He proposed that the Collas received military training from the Romans and eventually went to Ireland and became military leaders in service of the King of Ireland.  Schlegal also wrote concerning the early town of Colchester that... " As late as the middle ages, the western gate of the city of Colchester was pointed out as the site of King Coel's Castle."  And he suggested that the Collas may have possibly be linked back to the legendary figure King Cole.

Also in his book, Donald said that Coir Anmann reported that the Collas were also called Coll-ni in the ancient books.  He wrote that the name Coll-ni might be derived from the name of the River Colne that runs through the middle of Colchester.  He suggested that the two names Coll-ni and Colne looked and sounded similar to each other. As well, one might point out that Coll-ni looks and possibly sounds very similar to Conii.  Conii is described a paragraph or two above this one.

On Page 179 of Schlegel's summary, he says:
"...there is no strong reason to reject the story of the three Collas, who under the sponsorship of the King of the Connachta conquered southern and north-central Ulster and were the ancestors of the Airghialla.  There are hints and clues that suggest that the three Collas were Romanized Britons, originating in the tribe named Trinovantes; used Colla as their nomen..."

The Schlegel article appeared in The Clogher Record, a local history journal published by the Clogher Historical Society. It covers the history of counties Fermanagh, Monaghan, South Tyrone, and South Donegal. The article can be read at many schools and libraries on JSTOR: The Clogher Record, Volume XVI, No. 2, 1998, pp. 159-181"The Origin of the Three Collas and the Fall of Emain" by Donald M. Schlegel.

An earlier spelling for Colla was Conlae, and "The Three Collas" were also known as "Na Trí Collai".  Their names were Conlae Uais, Conlae Menn, and Conlae Fochri (collectively known as "The Three Collas"). Historian/gealogist O'Rahilly wrote a short section on the derivation of the name Colla.  Based on variant forms of the name appearing in the Irish MS., O' Rahilly says the name Colla stands for an earlier Conlae; apparently as Irish evolved the earlier " nl " turned into " ll ".  O'Rahilly also mentions other variant forms of spelling; Conla, Conlae, and Condla. O'Rahilly sees Conlae as similar to the Gaulish "Condollios, derived from Condollos, ie, conn (head, chief) plus ollos (great). O'Rahilly states Condollios probably means son of Condollos.

Could "The Three Collas" be anciently derived from the Conii (or Cynetes), a pre-Roman tribe from the Iberian Peninsula.  Past DNA studies have shown the similarities between the DNA of people in Ireland and those in Spain and the Iberian area.

The Conii or Cynetes were one of the pre-Roman peoples of the Iberian Peninsula, living in today's Algarve and Low Alentejo regions of southern Portugal before the 6th century BCE (in what was to become the southern part of the Roman province of Lusitania). They are often mentioned in the ancient sources under various designations, mostly Greek or Latin derivatives of their two tribal names: ‘Cynetas’/’Cynetum’; ‘Kunetes’, ‘Kunetas’, and ‘Kunesioi' or ‘Cuneus’, followed by ‘Konioi’, ‘Kouneon’ and ‘Kouneous’/‘Kouneoi’.  Inscriptions in the Tartessian language have been found in the area, in a variety often referred to as Southwest Paleohispanic script.  The name Conii, found in Strabo, seems to have been identical with the Cynesii, who were mentioned by Herodotus as the westernmost dwellers of Europe and distinguished by him from the Celts.

The main city of the country of the Conii (or Cynetes) was Conistorgis, according to Strabo, who considered the region Celtic.   In the local language Conistorgis probably means "City of the Conii".  It was located somewhere in the interior of the Algarve, in southernmost Portugal, although the exact location is unknown.  The Conii had made an alliance with the Romans during the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. This led to the city's destruction by the indigenous Iberian confederation, led by the Lusitanians, during the Lusitanian War against Rome from 155 to 139 BC.

The Conii’s city Conistorgis was destroyed apparently for their alliance with the Romans, this would make the Conii basically homeless.  It would then be reasonable to assume that the Conii would now be in search for a new home, away from their destroyed city, and their apparently new enemies the Lusitanians who led the destruction of their city.  According to Herodotus the Conii are listed as the westernmost dwellers of Europe and distinguished by him from the Celts.  The westernmost part of Europe is of course Ireland, and this would be consistent with the story of the Collas being in Ireland.  The Collas ancient ancestors (the Cynetes or Conii if this theory holds) may have left the Iberian Peninsula area after their city was destroyed during the Lusitanian War sometime between 155 and 139 BC.  This would place the ancestors to the Collas in the westernmost areas (the early British Isles) as Herodotus had mentioned about the Conii.

The Celtic Encyclopedia: Volume 1 - Page 160  (pages 159 – 160), The Conii were a coastal people whose inscriptions show that they spoke a mixture of Goidel and Brythonic Celtic languages. ... lands of nearby Ithaca ( Andalucla, Spain) and/or the earlier BC 15th century Goidel invasion of Ireland. ...

Cynetes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  The name Conii, found in Strabo, seems to have been identical with the Cynesii, who were mentioned by Herodotus as the westernmost dwellers of Europe…

Colchester Background History - (Various source references and text [links above and below] are found on Wikipedia.)

The name Colchester is from Latin: the place-name suffixes chester, cester, and caster derive from the Latin word castrum (fortified place). In folk etymology the name Colchester was thought of as meaning Cole's Castle, though it actually means the Roman fort Colonia (plural coloniae).  Colonia was originally a Roman Empire outpost established in conquered territory to secure it. Eventually, however, the term came to denote the highest status of Roman city.  Coloniae also included towns founded by Rome to house those who held Roman citizenship. In Britain this usually meant those who had completed their military service in the Legions and were thus owed a grant of land by the state; see Marian Reforms.

Other earlier associated names for Colchester were Colecester, Colcestre, and Colcestria.

Camulodunum is the Roman name for the ancient settlement which is today's Colchester, a town in Essex, England. Camulodunum is claimed to be the oldest town in Britain as recorded by the Romans, existing as a Celtic settlement before the Roman conquest, when it became the first Roman town, and eventually a settlement of discharged Roman soldiers, known as Colonia Claudia Victricensis. There is archaeological evidence of settlement 3,000 years ago. Its Celtic name was "Camulodunon", meaning "the Fortress of Camulos" (Camulos being a British god equated with the Roman Mars). This name was modified to the Roman spelling of "Camulodunum".

Camulodunon was the capital of the Trinovantes tribe, who built an impressive system of earthwork defences to the west and south of the town. It was probably established as their capital by Addedomarus, a king known from his inscribed coins dating to around 25 - 10 BC (at the time of Caesar's invasions of Britain in 55 and 54 BC, the tribe were probably based at Braughing).  Colchester was the only place in the province of Britannia where samian ware was produced (for a short time). Roman brick making and wine growing also took place in the area. Bricks have been made in Colchester (or in the surrounding area) for around 2,000 years.

A Roman legionary fortress or castrum, the first permanent legionary fortress to be built in Britain, was established at Camulodunum in 43. A veteran colony was established in an effort to subdue the Silures and as part of an attempt at Romanisation.[6] Later it became a colonia – a settlement of discharged Roman soldiers – and the principal city of Roman Britain. A Roman monumental temple was built there c. 44 and was dedicated to the emperor Claudius.[7]

According to Tacitus, in 60/61 when the Iceni and Trinovantes under Boudica revolted against Roman rule, the city was undefended by fortifications,[8] and was only garrisoned by 200 members of the procurator's guard.[9] The rebels destroyed the city. The settlement was a target for the rebels because the veterans who inhabited the city "drove people out of their houses, ejected them from their farms, called them captives and slaves".[8]

Local legend places Colchester as the seat of King Cole (or Coel) of the rhyme Old King Cole, a legendary ancient king of Britain.

The Calkins Family origins

The Calkins family represented in our project traces its ancestry back to 16th-century Chester, England, just north of the Wales border.  Calkins is a spelling variant of Culkin and MacCulkin, which O'Hart says were descended from Colca (or Colcan).  O'Hart also lists Colcan as descending from Colla da Chrioch.  The Calkins name may have derived it's spelling origin from the "Colcan" name and with time, it was changed from Col-can to Cal-kin and Calkins. Or alternately the descendants (or the clan people) associated with King Cole may have adopted the term Coles-Kin or Cole-kin, which may have morphed over to Col-kin, and then over to Calkin.

One of our project administrators, Geneticist Patrick McMahon, believes that the Calkins surname may have have derived it spelling directly from the Colla Clan itself.  Patrick's thoughts on the origins of this Calkins family is below.

"A similar argument could be made for yet another family, the Calkins, who are also of Clan Colla and come from Cheshire/North Wales, being proto Colla and originating in another Roman Town, Chester. Equally, they could have come from any part of Britain, propelled westward by the Romans following failed uprisings such as Bodicea’s in East Anglia. This family might bear a derivative of the original tribal name, Colla Kinsmen or abbreviated to Colla-kin."  And Colla-kin then changed over to Calkin.

Back to the legendary story about King Cole:

In the legend Helena, the daughter of Cole, married the Roman senator Constantius Chlorus, who had been sent by Rome as an ambassador and was named as Cole's successor. Helena's son became Emperor Constantine I. Helena was canonised as Saint Helena of Constantinople and is credited with finding the true cross and the remains of the Magi. She is now the patron saint of Colchester. This is recognised in the emblem of Colchester: a cross and three crowns. The Mayor's medallion contains a Byzantine style icon of Saint Helena.

Colchester has also been suggested as one of the potential sites of Camelot, on account of having been the capital of Roman Britain, and because of its spelling similarity to the ancient name of Camulodunum.