You can love them, you can hate them, but you can’t ignore them. Redheads are probably the world’s greatest minority, making up just about 1 to 2% of the world population. There are several myths surrounding redheads; starting from being soul-stealers, vampires in disguise, or even being <span short-tempered. But, we are not here to talk about that.
We are here to talk about the historical facts related to them so that we can draw a clear conclusion on their origins. So let us get started.
The Greco-Roman Leftovers
Hang on now, neither Greeks nor Romans were redheads, were they? Well, as much as it can be argued, but a few of Greek and Roman figures (Ares, anyone?) have been described to have red hair. But, that is not what we want to talk about here. Back in the 20th century some scripts were discovered by an American archeological expedition team in Greece. These scripts were written in early Roman language and talked about people from a place, which is now known as the UK. These scripts have descriptions of people with red and green eyes and red hair. One close look at those descriptions, and one can figure out that they were talking about the Celts. Yes, those people who were present in the UK even before the Anglos, Saxons, Britons, or other Germanic tribes got there.
The Celtic Point of View
In the European history, whenever the redheads are discussed, the Celts are brought into the picture. Historical evidences often show that the Celts were present in the UK even before it became the country we now know (you know the country which colonised almost half of the world). So, were all the Celts redheads then? Not really. Celtic myths and story often depict people with raven hair as much as they depict people with red hair. So, no all Celts were not redheads (unfortunately). However, scientific evidences do show that most redheads have strong Celtic ancestry.
What Science says?
According to science, red hair occurs in people who have two copies of a recessive allele on chromosome 16, this produces an altered version of a protein known as, MC1R. So to all the redheads out there, you now know who to blame or thank for your hair. However, everyone with an MC1R gene is not a redhead. What brings out the redhead from MC1R? Well, it is still a mystery. In fact, having a redhead is like hunting for a unicorn. Yes you read that right, even if two people with this MC1R gene hookup, there is just about 25% chance that the baby would be a redhead. Maybe, it is time declare redheads as an endangered species.
The Scots and the Irish
Scotland and Ireland have the most number of redheads in the world. Ireland is a neighbour to UK and Scotland is a part of UK (damn you Union Jack). Now, we all know England and their policies (ahem). Hence, it is not really surprise that a lot of modern Scottish and Irish people also have some Anglo-Saxon heritage. However, there is a way to draw the line between the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. How? Well, MC1R to the rescue. As stated earlier, most people with strong Celtic heritage are carriers of the MC1R. Sadly, not all of them are redheads (sighs). But, almost everyone with the Celtic heritage have MC1R in their body. Sorry merchants, you could not breed out everything.
So, does that help paint a picture? Let us see. Most redheads are mostly either Irish or Scottish. Most of them have a strong Celtic background and not all MC1R carriers are redheads.
We hope you loved our rant on red hair, for more such content, stay tuned to The Daily Journal at the Heritage Forensics Network.