Scottish scientists have found a way to identify a person’s family roots to within a few miles, raising the possibility that city dwellers could soon trace their descendants back to their ancestral village.

Edinburgh University experts used volunteers from small communities in the north of Scotland, Italy and Croatia to quickly scan half a million DNA letters – the chemical combinations that make up our genes – and pinpointed in some cases 100% accurately where their distant relatives lived.

Within five years they believe the technique could be developed sufficiently so that a person who lives in a city could trace their ancestors from other towns or countries.

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