From Karen Gillan to Gordon Strachan via the fictional Princess Merida, Scotland and red hair are entwined like the nylon strands of a CU Jimmy hat soaked in Irn-Bru.

Yet scientists from Scotland's DNA project suggest the high incidence of fiery locks north of the Border does not have the incursions of Vikings or successive waves of Celtic migration as its cause, contrary to popular belief.

Rather, it's thought the gene emerged thousands of years ago in what was northern Britain, putting down especially deep roots on account of it helping carriers maximise the power of the sun. The fairer your skin, the better you absorb UV rays, helping create vitamin D which in turn leads to stronger teeth and bones.

Loading article content

In short, those who carry one of the 37 variants of the gene, many of whom will be unaware, have a reproductive advantage over non-carriers (whoever said blondes have more fun?) and are better equipped for Scotland's climate.

While this won't come as a surprise to many of you (in Edinburgh, 40% of the population carry the gene) it might make you pause the next time you grumble about rain showers or blustery weather. They are, in every sense, part of your DNA.