Finding the founder of Stockholm - A kinship study based on Y-chromosomal, autosomal and mitochondrial DNA

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  • Helena Malmström
  • Maria Vretemark
  • Andreas Tillmar
  • Mikael Brandström Durling
  • Pontus Skoglund
  • Gilbert, Tom
  • Willerslev, Eske
  • Gunilla Holmlund
  • Anders Götherström
Historical records claim that Birger Magnusson (died 1266), famous regent of Sweden and the founder of Stockholm, was buried in Varnhem Abbey in Västergötland. After being lost for centuries, his putative grave was rediscovered during restoration work in the 1920s. Morphological analyses of the three individuals in the grave concluded that the older male, the female and the younger male found in the grave were likely to be Birger, his second wife Mechtild of Holstein and his son Erik from a previous marriage. More recent evaluations of the data from the 1920s seriously questioned these conclusions, ultimately leading to the reopening and reexamination of the grave in 2002. Ancient DNA-analyses were performed to investigate if the relationship between the three individuals matched what we would expect if the individuals were Birger, Erik and Mechtild. We used pyrosequencing of Y-chromosomal and autosomal SNPs and compared the results with haplogroup frequencies of modern Swedes to investigate paternal relations. Possible maternal kinship was investigated by deep FLX-sequencing of overlapping mtDNA amplicons. The authenticity of the sequences was examined using data from independent extractions, massive clonal data, the c-statistics, and real-time quantitative data. We show that the males carry the same Y-chromosomal haplogroup and thus we cannot reject a father-son type of relation. Further, as shown by the mtDNA analyses, none of the individuals are maternally related. We conclude that the graves indeed belong to Birger, Erik and Mechtild, or to three individuals with the exact same kind of biological relatedness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Anatomy
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)138-145
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

ID: 34347893