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New research needs Robsons

Date 17 Nov 2006

A new study intends to determine whether the North East clans known as the Border Reivers are still in existence today. The Centre for Life has commissioned the research for a new exhibit called ‘The Robson Encyclopaedia’, which will examine the genetic links between modern Robsons and those who lived in the area four hundred years ago.

Border Reiver surnames such as Robson, Armstrong, Elliot and Burn remain predominant in the North East. The original Robsons of Tynedale were described by author George MacDonald Fraser as "a one-time leading family, and highly troublesome."

Linda Conlon, director of the Centre for Life, said: “The Border Reivers are part of our folklore. The idea behind the Robson Encyclopaedia is to take a topic we’re familiar with and use it to help explain a complex issue such as genetic inheritance. The Centre is in the middle of a £4.5million redevelopment programme, when finished next spring, it will house a new permanent exhibition called Human Life. The Robson Encyclopaedia will be part of it. We hope that by engaging local people in the development of the new exhibition it will encourage better understanding of what the Centre is about.”

Organisers are hoping to attract one adult male Robson from any interested Robson family. To take part, volunteers must supply a DNA sample, which will be taken by a simple mouth swab. DNA samples will be taken by scientists at the Centre for Life from 10.30am through to 12.30pm on Saturday 25 November 2006 in the Centre’s Conference and Banqueting Suite. For further information about the Robson Encyclopaedia, or if anyone wants to take part but is unavailable on the date stated, please call Dr Alix Groom on (0191) 241 8837.

The results of the DNA testing will be announced in the New Year and those taking part will be invited to see the exhibition at its official opening in March 2007. The research will reveal a group result and no individual results will be given.

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