Ever wanted to trace your ancestry back to the prehistoric era? With Oxford Ancestors, you can do exactly that!
Founded and run by a leading academic in the field of genetic ancestry, Oxford Ancestors uses Mitochondrial and Y chromosome DNA to trace your ancestry back tens of thousands of years.
In this review, we’ll take a look at some of the key features of Oxford Ancestors’ DNA testing service to help you decide whether this company is right for you and your genealogical research interests.
Oxford Ancestors Background
Oxford Ancestors was founded in 2001 by Professor Bryan Sykes.
Professor Sykes has authored six books on ancestry and genetics and has conducted extensive research into human mitochondrial genetics. He is also known for being the first scientist to extract DNA from ancient bone remnants and is therefore considered the first genetic archaeologist.
Professor Sykes’ research forms the basis for Oxford Ancestors, a DNA testing service that uses genetic haplotype testing to trace customers’ ancestral origins.
The theories of Professor Sykes have been the subject of some debate since their popularization nearly two decades ago.
For example, Oxford Ancestors’ decision not to include ethnicity testing in their services, their use of STR rather than SNP testing, and their inclusion of a British tribal analysis service have all caused some controversy.
However, Oxford Ancestors remains one of the most innovative and informative genetic testing services worldwide.
Oxford Ancestors provides a selection of genealogic services that can trace your ancestral lineage back tens of thousands of years.
The main testing services offered are Maternal Ancestry, Paternal Ancestry, and Tribes of Britain Analysis.
Oxford Ancestors’ Maternal Ancestry (or MatriLine Classic DNA) service offers the opportunity to trace your ancestry back to your ‘clan mother’.
Professor Sykes’ research suggests that all living humans can be linked to one of seven haplotype groups, each of which corresponds to a single ‘clan mother’.
Clan mothers, as Professor Sykes outlines in his book, The Seven Daughters of Eve (2001), are prehistoric women who share a common female ancestor, known in the field of genetics as the ‘Mitochondrial Eve’.
Through DNA sequencing, Oxford Ancestors can match your mitochondrial DNA to your ancestral clan mother.
The MatriLine DNA test package includes the DNA sampling kit itself, and the results include many other incredible bonuses.
The results come with a detailed scientific breakdown of the processes involved in DNA analysis.
You will also receive a Seven Daughters of Eve certificate, a ‘WorldClans’ certificate, a ‘Golden Thread’ certificate, and a MatriMap.
In addition, your purchase will entitle you to access to Oxford Ancestors’ searchable genetic database.
This test can be taken by both men and women due to the presence of mitochondrial DNA in both males and females.
In addition to their MatriLine service, Oxford Ancestors also offers a paternal ancestry (Y-Clan Classic DNA) testing service.
This test works by analyzing your Y-chromosome DNA through chromosome markers to match you with your ‘paternal clan’.
According to the research of Professor Sykes, all native European men can be traced back genetically to one of 5 ‘ancestral clan fathers’. Similarly to the theory of ‘Mitochondrial Eve’, it is theorized that these ‘clan fathers’ ultimately lead back to a single male ancestor, nicknamed ‘Y Chromosome Adam’.
The Y-Clan Classic test will establish your ancestral clan father.
The Y-Clan Classic service, like the MatriLine service, includes many additional features to help you understand and better connect to your results.
These features include a scientific explanation of the analysis behind your results and a technical report of your Y-clan chromosomal signature.
You will also receive a PatriMap, a ‘Paternal Clans’ certificate, and additional information about your paternal clan.
Because only biological males have Y chromosomes, this test is only suitable for men, or people with male DNA. However, women and people with female DNA wishing to take this test can do so by providing the DNA of their closest male relative.
Tribes of Britain Analysis
If you know that you have ancestors from Britain or Ireland, Oxford Ancestors also offers their Tribes of Britain service, which can tell you which ancient British tribe your paternal ancestry is connected to.
This test is an extension of the Y-Clan analysis, so you need to have purchased the paternal ancestry analysis before you can receive your results.
The results of this test will tell you whether your paternal ancestors are most likely to have been of Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Danish Viking, Norse Viking, or Norman origin.
Along with your test results, you will receive a ‘Tribes of Britain’ certificate.
The maternal and paternal DNA tests from Oxford Ancestors are available to purchase together as a combination package.
The MatriLine Classic DNA test can be purchased in conjunction with the Y-Clan Classic test.
The Y-Clan service, similarly, can be purchased alongside the MatriLine Classic test. It can also be combined, as previously mentioned, with the Tribes of Britain Analysis.
For a complete analysis of paternal, maternal, and British tribal ancestry, you can even purchase the MatriLine, Y-Clan, and Tribes of Britain testing services all together.
Searchable DNA Database
As an added bonus for registered customers, Oxford Ancestors also provides a searchable genetic database.
This database allows existing customers to use their MatriLine or Y-Clan results to find and connect with other users with related ancestry.
This feature of Oxford Ancestors’ service is so important because it promotes a sense of community and connection, and encourages conversation and collaborative learning surrounding genetic ancestry.
As outlined above, the DNA testing services offered by Oxford Ancestors come with a wide range of additional features to help you get the most out of your results.
Some of these extra features, such as the certificates, are relatively self-explanatory. However, others require a little more explanation.
The MatriMap, which is included in the purchase of the MatriLine testing service, is an A4 map depicting the theorized migratory journey of the respective matrilineal clans across the continents.
The map is printed in color for clarity and added aesthetic value.
A similar concept to the MatriMap, the PatriMap illustrates paternal clan migration and is printed in A4 color.
The reports provided with the MatriLine and Y-Clan test results are a really useful additional feature of Oxford Ancestors’ testing services.
These reports provide scientific explanations of the processes behind your genetic analysis and results to help you get a better understanding of your genetic makeup.
The MatriLine test results come with a detailed report of your mitochondrial DNA sequence and an explanation of the scientific procedures undertaken in the process of analyzing your DNA.
The Y-Clan test, meanwhile, includes a 26-digit chromosomal signature along with a scientific procedural breakdown.
Clan and Tribe Information
The information provided with the MatriLine and Y-Clan test results isn’t limited to your own specific DNA.
Oxford Ancestors also provides you with information about your corresponding clan or tribe.
MatriLine test results include detailed information about your ancestral clan mother, including theories relating to her life.
This information includes your clan mother’s ‘name’ (attributed by Professor Sykes to reduce the clinical, statistical element of genetic testing) and the story of her life, based on archaeological evidence.
The Y-Clan service seems to offer slightly less personal detail but comes with information about your paternal clan, including geographical distribution.
Both the MatriLine and Y-Clan services provide helpful instructions on how to use your results to continue and enhance your genealogical research.
This feature is important because it encourages independent research and promotes active engagement with history and ancestral genealogy.
The ordering process for Oxford Ancestors’ services is very straightforward.
An online ordering form is available through the Oxford Ancestors website.
Alternatively, if you do not feel comfortable processing the transaction online, or are unable to do so for any other reason, Oxford Ancestors also accepts cheques by way of payment.
However, as part of the mail-order process, you will need to print and fill out the order form manually and return it to Oxford Ancestors at the address provided.
Oxford Ancestors uses STR testing to determine your ancestral lineage.
The testing process used by Oxford Ancestors is simple and painless.
The testing kit sent to you as part of the service contains two cheek swabs. These swabs are, of course, sterile and safe for use.
Oxford Ancestors’ kits come in professional, high-quality, and visually appealing packaging, and can be bought by one person for another as long as the correct information is provided, making them ideal as gifts.
To sample your DNA, simply pass each swab 10 times over the inside of your cheek. Then, place the swabs inside the designated packet, making sure to seal, and return the swabs to the Oxford laboratory in the pre-addressed envelope provided.
You should allow 4-6 weeks for your results to come back once your sample has arrived at the lab.
Oxford Ancestors operates according to a set of ethical policies that ensure moral and scientific integrity throughout the DNA testing process.
Whilst many customers and reviewers consider Oxford Ancestors’ lack of health and ethnicity testing to be a disadvantage, the company’s omission of ethnicity testing is based on solid ethical grounds.
This is because Professor Sykes, like many other academics in the field, contends that race has no basis in genetic science.
Not only is racial classification on the basis of genetics scientifically unfounded, but it is also hugely reductive in the sense that it reduces a person’s identity to percentages.
Therefore, the omission which is considered by many to be a drawback of Oxford Ancestors’ services is, in fact, an indication of the company’s commitment to ethical and accurate science.
Any sharing of data for genealogical research purposes will only be carried out with your express permission and consent.
DNA samples are not stored by Oxford Ancestors. Samples are destroyed and disposed of immediately following the analysis.
In the event that you wish to have all of your personal data removed from the Oxford Ancestors records, you can submit a request for this by filling out a form online.
The Oxford Ancestors website is easy to navigate and complements the company’s services effectively.
The website features a visually pleasing homepage and drop-down menus, through which other areas of the site can be accessed.
The website provides an overview of the company’s background and information about each service provided. There is also a glossary of key terms, an FAQ section, and a page for customer testimonials.
By clicking on the ‘Genetics & DNA’ tab on the website and opening the drop-down menu, users can also access the
However, the website definitely has room for improvement.
Certain sections of text contain typographical and grammatical errors, which disrupt the customer experience.
Additionally, because the website has undergone recent restructuring in 2019, old or existing customers of Oxford Ancestors will need to re-register on the site.
In order to do this, customers will need to provide their Sample ID from previous orders or other specific information, which will then need to be checked before a new password can be issued.
This, once again, is disruptive to the desired positive customer experience.
It should be noted at this point that Oxford Ancestors’ DNA testing services are significantly more expensive than the services provided by some other genetic testing companies.
Whilst the higher price points may initially be offputting for some users, it’s worth looking into why the prices are where they are, and whether they are worth the results.
Firstly, it is important to consider the high quality and generous quantity of additional features included in the purchase of Oxford Ancestors’ services.
It’s also worth remembering that purchasing a service from Oxford Ancestors grants you access to more than just your test results. You also get permanent access (as long as the company remains active) to the searchable database.
Thanks to the research information provided alongside your test results, Oxford Ancestors services aren’t just a one-time purchase - they’re a lifelong educational investment.
For all of these reasons, Oxford Ancestors is a genetic testing company well worth considering despite its higher prices.
- The company is run by a leading academic in the field of ancestral genealogy
- Oxford Ancestors was one of the first ancestry tracing companies to be established in the UK
- This is an ethical company, as demonstrated by their refusal to test for ethnicity and their privacy and data protection policies
- The company uses easy and painless swab testing methods
- The tests are shipped in professional, visually appealing packaging, and can be bought by you for someone else, making them great gift options
- Test results include detailed information regarding your ancestral clan or tribe
- High-quality, color certificates are provided alongside test results
- Included with test results is a detailed explanation of the scientific procedures used in the testing process
- Oxford Ancestors provides information on how to use your results for further research
- The searchable database provides a sense of connection and community
- The website is easy to navigate and use
- Highly informational and academic content is accessible through the website
- Oxford Ancestors offers a mail-order form option as well as online payment for increased accessibility
- Oxford Ancestors is one of the more expensive DNA testing services on the market
- Not suitable for those seeking ethnicity or health testing
- The theories which form the basis for Oxford Ancestors’ testing services have been the subject of debate
- The website could be improved in terms of textual editing and registration procedures
- STR testing used may be less accurate than SNP testing due to the smaller number of markers tested
Oxford Ancestors is an ethical and efficient DNA testing service that provides interesting and highly personal genealogical information.
If you have ancestry from the UK or Europe, and an interest in British tribal and clan history, the services provided by Oxford Ancestors is likely to be of use and interest to you.
However, if you are looking for a DNA test that will tell you specifically about your ethnic background or your predisposition to certain health conditions, Oxford Ancestors is not the service for you due to its omission of these services on ethical grounds.
Oxford Ancestors is one of the more expensive DNA testing services out there, and some have questioned their high prices due to their use of STR, rather than SNP testing. However, the high quality and detailed information and certification provided alongside Oxford Ancestors’ test results make their prices seem much more reasonable.
Ultimately, if the idea of finding out your ancient British ancestral origins appeals to you, and you’re willing to pay extra for more high-quality certification and information regarding your ancestry, you are likely to find Oxford Ancestors’ services a worthwhile and highly educational investment.