“Because of the paucity of written records, the scope of Celtic settlement across Europe has not been easy to establish. One feature already mentioned that is strongly associated with Celtic blood lines is red hair; a great majority of people in the world who have red hair will be found to have a Celtic ancestor. But that feature is not uniquely associated with the Celts, so the spread of Celtic people in such areas as present-day Germany and Scandinavia has not been accepted by all authorities. During World War II, a discovery was made that only recently has received meticulous research. A couple of doctors in medical centers in England noticed that there was a feature of Scots and Welsh soldiers wounded in battle that was not present with English, Germans, and other nationalities. The former frequently had a big toe (or great toe) that was the same length as the next toe; all others had great toes markedly longer. They marked that down for research after the war ended, but it was only a few years ago that definitive research was done that has led to a remarkable discovery. They found that there were burial sites across Britain where the skeletons were completely of one ethnic group, such as Celtic burial sites on islands along the Scottish northwest coast, and pre-Celtic burial sites in southern England. Results from studies of those burial sites showed that to a 95 probability Celtic remains had a big toe the same length as, or shorter than, the next toe, while pre-Celtic remains had a big toe longer than the one next to it. That study was expanded to cover burial sites in other parts of Europe and Asia, with the same results. Because the so-called Celtic toe can disappear after many generations of intermarriage, it is not a necessary condition to having a Celtic ancestor, but it is a sufficient one: if a person has the Celtic toe, he or she is almost certain to be of Celtic descent.”
- Raymond E. Hunter. “The Celts.” Electric Scotland <www.electricscotland.com>. Retrieved Feb. 20, 2008.
Update February 17, 2021
I confess I would not have spent any more time on this, but I found it interesting. My feet have the “Egyptian” pattern, but I’d wager I don’t have any significant ancient Egyptian ancestry. My ancestry is going to be overwhelmingly Celtic and Germanic.
I’m surprised I did not, in my original post, mention my great grandmother Josephine Swanstrom. My mother’s Porter cousins were old enough to have known her in their childhoods. They told me she had a little “story” about toes. If their second toe was longer than the first–that is, the “Greek” pattern shown above–she would say they had toes like the King of Sweden.
Such an odd thing to say. Was it some kind of traditional folklore? Seems like. However, they all believed at some point in her early life she had seen the king barefoot. Which king? Presumably Oscar II (1829-1907) but maybe more likely one of the princes who later became king; Gustav V (1858-1950) or Gustav VI (1882-1973). I’d suggest it’s also possible she knew someone who had seen one of the princes barefoot.
Such an odd little detail.