How do you tell if you are a descendant of Vikings?

Answered by Frank Schwing

To determine if you are a descendant of Vikings, there are several factors and clues that you can consider. While no method is foolproof, these indicators can give you a sense of your potential Viking ancestry.

1. Surnames ending in ‘sen’ or ‘son’: One of the most common ways to identify Viking heritage is through surnames. Many surnames ending in ‘sen’ or ‘son’ can be traced back to Viking origins. Names like Anderson, Peterson, or Larson are examples of this. However, it is important to note that not all names ending in ‘sen’ or ‘son’ are of Viking descent, as these endings are also common in other cultures.

2. Geographical origins: Another way to trace Viking ancestry is by examining your family’s geographical origins. If your ancestors come from regions historically associated with Viking settlements, such as Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), the British Isles (especially Scotland, Ireland, and northern England), or areas influenced by Viking exploration and trade routes (such as Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, parts of France, and Russia), it increases the likelihood of Viking ancestry.

3. DNA testing: Advances in DNA testing have made it possible to trace genetic ancestry. Companies like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, and MyHeritage offer genetic testing services that can provide insights into your ancestry composition and potential Viking heritage. These tests analyze your DNA and compare it to reference populations, giving you an estimate of your genetic origins.

4. Family traditions and folklore: Family stories, traditions, and folklore can also provide clues about Viking ancestry. Oral traditions passed down through generations may contain references to Viking origins, such as tales of seafaring ancestors, Viking customs, or connections to specific regions associated with Vikings. While these stories should be taken with a grain of salt and corroborated with other evidence, they can offer valuable insights into your family’s history.

5. Historical records and genealogy: Delving into historical records and genealogical research can help uncover Viking connections. Exploring birth, marriage, and death records, church records, census data, and land ownership documents can provide valuable information about your ancestors’ origins and potential Viking heritage. Local libraries, historical societies, and online resources like and can assist in your genealogical journey.

6. Physical characteristics: While not definitive proof, certain physical characteristics can be associated with Viking ancestry. Traits like fair hair (blond or red), light-colored eyes (blue or green), tall stature, and a strong build are often attributed to Viking heritage. However, it’s essential to remember that physical appearance varies widely, and these traits can be found in populations unrelated to Vikings as well.

It’s important to note that determining Viking ancestry is not an exact science and may not be possible for everyone. Migration, intermarriage, and cultural assimilation over centuries have resulted in a blending of genetic and cultural backgrounds. Additionally, surnames and physical characteristics can be influenced by various factors beyond Viking heritage.

If you are genuinely interested in your ancestry, consider exploring multiple avenues, combining DNA testing, genealogical research, historical records, and family stories to get a more comprehensive understanding of your heritage. Remember that discovering Viking ancestry is just one piece of the puzzle, and embracing your heritage goes beyond a single historical connection.