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About us

Welcome to the Cornwall DNA project – a project dedicated to the genetic history of the peoples of Cornwall.

Dynnargh dhywgh dhe an ragdres TDN Kernow – bagas hwithrans fogellys war an istori genynnek a’n dus a Gernow. oil an gwella

Cornwall has been a relatively isolated part of the British isles. Up to 1550 it spoke its own language, and had its own form of government and currency until the 1700s. Compared with other parts of Britain there has been little intermingling. Except perhaps from Devon, and limited influx from Ireland and the continent, there has been limited in-migration until the present century. After 1850 however, when the great mines began to play out, there was a major exodus to other parts of the world where mines were to be found (Australasia, North and South America and South Africa).

Cornwall had the largest known tin deposits in the world for thousands of years, and initially a great deal of alluvial gold and probably copper and arsenic. The first metalworkers to arrive in Britain were the Beaker People around 2500 BC, and they worked Cornish gold and tin extensively, while constructing a large number of ritual sites and burial chambers. A significant part of Cornwall's ancient DNA stems from this very early period: there are many pockets of what appear to be early Bronze Y-DNA in Cornwall, along with later Danish, Continental and a few Irish intrusions.       


Project membership is free and open (on a trial basis) for anyone with an autosomal test and a proven Cornish ancestor in the last five generations. Anyone entitled to membership of our subgroups "Cornwall Advanced YDNA" or "Cornwall-mtDNA"  can and should also join.


For autosomal, you should be 1/16 Cornish or better, as otherwise you may have no Cornish DNA at all. Internal matches can be found by using the Advanced Matches facility on Family Finder. Anyone who is 1/4 Cornish or more can expect to have at least ten matches (though siblings may be more or less Cornish), some core members have as many as 45 internal matches. 


Our associated  research project that has found a great deal of rare and unusual DNA in Cornwall, dating back to Beaker settlement during the early Bronze Age in many instances. Because of Cornwall's long isolation, it has been a 'museum' for unusual Y-DNA.  We have found half a dozen 'clusters' of Y-DNA peculiar to the region.

Men can join the CORNWALL ADVANCED YDNA project as well if they have a clear paper paternal line back to Cornwall, and if they have taken a SNP test (usually a Big Y700). In some cases we will relax these two conditions - please contact the administrator for options if you are interested in assisting with the research.

For men with a Cornish paternal ancestor (generally, a Cornish surname) you are particularly encouraged to improve your Y-testing with a BigY700 test


Anyone can join the CORNWALL ADVANCED YDNA project as well if they have a clear paper maternal line back to Cornwall (no men, so Cornish mother, mother's mother etc etc ) and have taken a mtDNA test